Our self-esteem is the overall sense of self-worth that influences how we appraise our traits and abilities. When our self-knowledge is curiously flawed, we often do not know why we behave the way we do.
Self-esteem refers to how an individual feels about personal aspects such as appearance, abilities and behavior and grows on the basis of their experiences of being competent and successful in what they attempt. It enables an individual to evaluate his or her self-worth. This is determined by how one values him or himself in terms of physical and psychological status. How one feels influences his or her actions towards others. This is largely influenced by the person’s socialization with family members, friends, teachers, peers, and others.
Individuals experiencing high esteem feel good about themselves, worthwhile, and able to respect themselves. People who often feel free to face challenges find it easier to try out new things without worrying too much about failure. They are often not afraid to put themselves in new situations, challenges and experiences. This enables them to learn that they can succeed at many things that they never imagined they could.
It is important for a learner to appreciate that someone with high esteem can never struggle in accepting themselves, but one is ready to accept his/ her mistakes and move on. There is however a difference between high esteem and pride (showoff or being overconfident or too conceited). People with high esteem can accept themselves, but they don’t feel that they are perfect or better than other people
Some values associated with self-esteem
- Humility: having a humble view of ones own importance. Humility requires one to be polite, simple, lowly and lacking in pride. A humble person accepts other people regardless of their socio-economic status
- Peace: it consists of positive thoughts, pure feelings and good wishes towards others
- Respect: this is having positive regard towards self and others Happiness: it is a state of inward peace in which there is no upheaval.
- Simplicity: it is about living simply and not making things complicated. This calls for one to live within his/her means without being wasteful
- Freedom: a life filled with values is a life of self-respect and dignity. Values bring independence of freedom, expand the capacity
Factors that affect self-esteem
- Parents/family: the general atmosphere in the family contributes more to people’s view of themselves than any event. The parents input carries a considerable great weight on development of self-esteem
- Physical appearance: people formulate a mental image of themselves from the praises or ridicule of others regarding their appearance. This includes height, weight, complexion, symmetrical features of the face and body.
- Education: people tend to formulate a metal picture of self based on their success and failure in the eyes of significant others
- Friends and Peers: one of the pillars of self-esteem is acceptance. Peer may confirm what one has been taught at home. The nicknames and jokes about each other can hurt, thus affecting ones self-esteem. They cut deep and chop at positive aspects of self image.
- Culture: As adults, people are constantly searching for approval and security in their relationships with others.
- Stereotyping: stereotype is a form of discrimination
- Authority Figures: constant put-down can affect ones personality negatively, while affirmation of one’s performance and positive criticisms will enhance one’s self-esteem
- Significant others: many people will glow when hey feel and know they are loved for who they are. The opposite of this e.g. constant criticisms will affect one’s self esteem negatively
- Engaging in self-defeating behavior patterns: these block achievements of a possible meaningful life. People then choke under pressure and make poor decisions that entrench focus on negativity.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem
- Isolation Self-doubt Self-neglect
- Vulnerability Aggressiveness
- Low performance of tasks
Effects of Poor Self-Esteem
- Poor self-esteem distorts the massages people receive from others, and the way people interpret events in life. It filters out the positive message and leaves people feeling negative about themselves
- Unhealthy Relationships are common because one is unable to relate with people without fear of rejection
- Poor choice of marriage partners is also common e.g. A very educated man who has poor self-esteem may choose to marry a woman with very inferior education so that he can be able to control her
- Poor self-esteem can result in constant feelings of fear and guilt that can be very crippling to one’s advancement in life. They may never realize their full potential due to fear
- One can develop personality disorders.
- One is generally unhappy
- Vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV &AIDS, physical and emotional abuse
- Indulgence in drug abuse
Building a positive Self-esteem
- When people grasp their self-worth, they are empowered with confidence and courage to handle life difficulties.
- People can learn that they have the potential to be rational. They have the capacity to make appropriate choices, they are emotional beings – they have the ability to feel; they can act on what they have heard; and have eternity within themselves
- Acquiring new choices: to be made when negative circumstances come is part of rebuilding process
- Learning to forgive those who hurt us in the past is another part of rebuilding process
- Praise/acknowledging effort
Factors that enhance high self esteem
- Good health habits
- Goal setting
- Good grooming