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What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem: noun

1. confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect.

How much do you appreciate yourself? Do you like yourself? We can gauge our self-esteem from the various beliefs (irrespective of whether they are true or not) that we hold about ourselves or tell ourselves. Take a moment now and think about what you say about yourself, think about specific attributes "I am a great runner" "I am a terrible friend" etc. Think about it in terms of self-confidence, security, identity, your sense of belonging and self-competence. Now write those thoughts down as statements, don't change them, just write them down as they come to you as simple facts. Take a look at the list and this will give you a brief idea of your opinions and beliefs about yourself.

Your self-esteem can affect whether you:

a) like and value yourself as a person

b) are able to make decisions and assert yourself

c) recognise your strengths and positives

d) feel able to try new or difficult things

e) show kindness towards yourself

f) move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly

g) take the time you need for yourself

h) believe you matter and are good enough

i) believe you deserve happiness

Why is Self-Esteem important?

Self-esteem is important because it influences how you think and the way you behave. It is also related to motivation and success. People with a healthy, positive view of themselves know their potential and are motivated to try their best and take on new challenges. On the other hand, people with low self-esteem feel less sure of their abilities. They may not feel motivated to try things because they don’t believe they're capable—or worthy—of success.

The need for esteem is addressed in Abraham Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs'. Esteem is the fourth layer of Maslow's five-tiered model of human motivation and is thought to be interrelated with the other levels of our needs (i.e. self-actualization, love/belonging, safety, and physiological needs). When we are building the picture of someone, we take a look at each layer of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and see where there may be weaknesses. To give you an idea, a lot of the clients we work with in Dubai may come up short in the second level concerning safety. Not being around family, not having job security and not owning your own home can become key factors for someone's safety levels, which can in turn affect their stress and anxiety levels. How can we have Esteem if our basic safety needs are not met?

What causes low self-esteem?

Throughout our childhood years, we experience different things that can form the foundation for our overall self-esteem. Were there any traumatic experiences that you went through? Were you bullied? Was there any discrimination or abuse? When we are working with clients at Mind Solutions, everyone's story is different but 9 times out of 10, we find experiences from our childhood that have had an effect on the clients' self-esteem and self-worth. So from this, it is not only self-judgement that affects self-esteem but also the way we are treated by others. People who consistently receive critical or negative assessments from family and friends, for example, are more likely to experience low self-esteem than those who have positive experiences.

Difficult or stressful life experiences can often be a factor, such as:

  • being bullied or abused

  • experiencing prejudice, discrimination or stigma

  • losing your job or difficulty finding employment

  • problems at work or school

  • ongoing stress

  • physical health problems

  • mental health problems

  • relationship problems, separation or divorce

  • loss of family members

  • worries about your appearance and body image

  • problems with money or housing.

You might have had some of these experiences, and you might also have had difficulties that aren't listed here. Or there might not be one particular cause. Whatever has affected your self-esteem, it's important to remember that you have the right to feel good about who you are. It might feel as if changing things will be difficult, but there are lots of things you can try to improve things bit by bit.

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem will more than likely show up as having negative thoughts about your worth and value as a person. Here are some general signs of low self-esteem:

  • avoiding new things and not taking up opportunities

  • feeling unloved and unwanted

  • blaming others for your own mistakes

  • not being able to deal with normal levels of frustration

  • negative self-talk and comparisons to others

  • fear of failure or embarrassment

  • difficulty making friends

  • low levels of motivation and interest

  • can’t take compliments and shows mixed feelings of anxiety or stress

How do I improve Self-Esteem?

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to address self-esteem issues. Some things that you can do to help improve your self-esteem include:

  • Become more aware of negative thoughts. Learn to identify the distorted thoughts that are hurting your self-worth.

  • Challenge negative thinking patterns. When you find yourself engaging in negative thinking, try countering those thoughts with more realistic, positive ones.

  • Use positive self-talk. Focus on using hopeful statements and try to focus more on the positive aspects of situations.

  • Practice self-compassion. Practice forgiving yourself for past mistakes and move forward by encouraging and accepting yourself.

One of the greatest tips I ever received was to get self-esteem, you have to do esteemable actions. Engage in “esteemable acts” Doing healthy and positive things for ourselves (and doing good things for other people) makes us feel better. So engage in such acts, even when you don't feel motivated or deserving. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Low self-esteem can contribute to or be a symptom of a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. Talk to your doctor or therapist about your treatment options, which might include psychotherapy (including online therapy), medications, or both. We at Mind Solutions are here to help, so if you would like to know more, get in touch now, head on over to our website; and book your free 15 minute consultation now or get in touch through our contact page.

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