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  • How’s your Self Esteem?

    Low self esteem is one of the biggest issues that I see in my practice, it’s seen across all genders, cultures and ethnicities. This very delicate matter starts much earlier than we think, research states that the forming of one’s self esteem, can begin as early as birth, in a newborn baby. So how does this affect one’s outlook in life and how can it pre determine how we will act as adults? Let’s dive in a bit closer and examine this important matter.

    What is self esteem?

    Self esteem is also referred to as self confidence or one’s self worth, it’s simply how we feel about ourselves. It’s an overall feeling about our self worth, usually stemming from the positive and negative beliefs about being valuable and capable. It develops and evolves throughout our lives as we build an image about ourselves through experiences with different people and activities. Having a healthy self esteem can be contributed to being motivated and how successful our future will or could be. How much we appreciate and like ourselves is highly relevant in having good self esteem. I however, believe that we shouldn’t just like ourselves though, instead we must love ourselves.

    When does self esteem begin?

    Self esteem begins very early in our lives, it actually begins in childhood. Our experiences during this stage in our life plays a very pivotal role in shaping our basic self esteem. For example, if a child is constantly told negative things about him/her self, they mostly will grow up believing and thinking that what they were told is true. Words are definitely powerful and is very critical during this phase of development. That child most likely will grow up with self esteem issues. On the other hand, if you tell a child positive affirmations during their developmental phases. For example, you are great, or that he/she can be or do anything they desire, and other positive attributes about themselves. Most likely that child will grow up to have a healthier self esteem than a child who was always told negative attributes.

    Factors that can affect our self esteem?

    There are many different factors that can affect one’s self esteem. Family members and care takers are key, because they are usually the first people of contact in a child’s lives and often represents the “world” to a child. If children are shamed and criticized by their parents or caregivers constantly, this will effect their self esteem later in life. Others that can affect one’s self esteem, but is not limited to includes, one’s peers, siblings, teachers, social media experiences, can all help/ hinder in shaping one’s basic self esteem. Self esteem is not stagnant. One’s own personal self esteem is usually affected through their life experiences. Your inner thoughts, and how you view the world, can have an affect on your self esteem. If you have and dealt with any potential illnesses, disability or physical limitations, your job/school can also have an affect on your esteem.

    Some signs of A Low Self-Esteem

    • Negative outlook on life.
    • Lack of confidence.
    • Inability to express your needs adequately.
    • Focus on weaknesses.
    • Feelings of shame, depression, or anxiety.
    • Belief that others are better than you.
    • Trouble accepting positive feedback.
    • Fear of failure.

    Some signs of A Healthy Self-Esteem

    • Confident.
    • Ability to say No and create healthy boundaries.
    • Positive overall outlook on life.
    • Ability to see your overall strengths and weaknesses and accept them.
    • Negative experiences don’t impact overall perspective of who you are.
    • Ability to express your needs effectively.

    How does one develop good self esteem, if they don’t already have it?

    Recognize what you’re good at.

    We’re all good at something, whether it’s cooking, singing, dancing, being a friend, listening etc. We also naturally tend to enjoy doing the things we’re good at, which can help boost one’s mood and confidence. One doesn’t have to compare themselves to others, as each one of us is unique in our own way. Self comparison is detrimental to developing healthy self esteem.

    Build positive relationships.

    – If you find that certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions.
    – Seek out relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you for who you are.
    – Stay away from negative and small minded people.

    Be kind to yourself

    – Be compassionate to yourself. Give yourself grace. This means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical.
    -Think about what you’d say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.

    Learn to be assertive

    – Being assertive is about respecting other people’s opinions and needs, and expecting the same from them.
    – One trick is to look at other people who act assertively and copy what they do. It’s not about pretending you’re someone you’re not, It’s instead, picking up hints and tips from people you admire and letting the real you come through.

    Start saying “No”’

    No is such a small word, yet it’s so powerful. People with low self-esteem often feel they have to always say “yes” to others, even when they don’t really want too. This can also be considered as a criteria of a “people pleasers”. The risk is that you will become overburdened, resentful, angry and depressed. Saying “no” is a personal tool that’s absolutely necessary, when creating healthy boundaries with others.

    Challenge yourself

    We all feel nervous or afraid to do things at times, but people with healthy self-esteem, don’t let these feelings stop them from trying new things or taking on new challenges. You’ll never know, unless you try.

    Help others

    Helping others can be a huge boost to one’s self esteem. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, giving of your time at a Big brother or sister organization, or other youth groups. These are things that mean something to those on the receiving end and gives value, not only to one’s self, but to many others as well. There is something quite remarkable that occurs within one’s self, when we give to others.


    Is there someone in your life you haven’t forgiven? An ex-partner, a family member, a friend, or even yourself? By holding onto feelings of bitterness or resentment, you will keep yourself stuck in a cycle of negativity. If you haven’t
    forgiven yourself, shame and guilt, can keep you in this most destructive behavior. Forgiving self and others has been found to dramatically improve one’s self-esteem, perhaps because it connects us with our innately loving nature and
    promotes an acceptance of people, despite their flaws. Forgiving also lifts and takes away a heavy burden, that weighs the individual down, once it’s taken away, there is a lightness that cannot be explained.

    In conclusion our self esteem is a key component to our happiness, joy, peace, hope and other important factors in our lives. If you lack a healthy self esteem, seeking help now to rebuild and establish a good self esteem is not too late. Start with writing out five things you like about yourself and five things you don’t. Which list is easier for you to write and why? Based on your answers, you’ll be able to tell if your self esteem needs a healthy boost.