What does self-esteem mean to you?
You may think of it as your inner voice – the voice that tells you whether you are good enough to do or achieve something. Self-esteem is about how we value ourselves, our perceptions and beliefs in who we are and what we are capable of. Our self-esteem can be misaligned with other people's perception of who we are.
Interestingly enough, self-esteem has little to do with actual talent or ability. It’s quite possible for someone who is good at something to have poor self-esteem, while someone who struggles at a particular topic might have good self-esteem.
In the first case, the person might think “I have to give a speech tomorrow and I’m dreading it. I know I’m no good,” even though they are experienced and successful. The other person may be determined to give a good speech and focuses on feeling more confident about the result, even though they display less talent than the first person.
It is easy to see how a lack of self-esteem can influence how a person behaves, not to mention what they achieve in their lives.
Why Do People Experience Low Self-Esteem?
There are ways to boost your self-esteem, even if you feel as if you are struggling to do so.
There are many reasons why someone might have low self-esteem. A feeling of failure can stem from a poor decision or a series of experiences in life that lead to the person feeling down on themselves.
For example let’s say that you don’t have confidence in your own abilities and you don’t feel strong enough to resist falling in with the wrong crowd. In this situation you may feel powerless to refuse the offer of drugs when they are presented to you. Thus you take them so you can fit in and feel part of a group, hoping this will increase your self-esteem and confidence.
The effects of the drugs may make you feel more confident for a short time, but this is an external force – it does not come from within you. If you become addicted to drugs, any self-esteem you do have will eventually crumble. You will feel depressed at having succumbed to them and you may feel hopeless at the odds of beating the addiction. It sends you into a spiral that can be hard to escape from.
Tips to Help Improve Self-Esteem
- Gain Control of Yourself: Do not be critical of yourself to others. Whilst it can be useful to confide your concerns to someone you trust, telling the world is something else. Be kind to yourself. Make a list of your good qualities and believe them, believe in yourself.
- Don't Be A Complainer: Everyone has problems, so why should yours be greater than others? By being negative you can isolate yourself from others and cut yourself off from solutions to problems.
- Learn to Relax: Allow time for yourself each day. This may only be a few minutes, but it is important to be quiet and to unwind. See our section on Relaxation Techniques for some ideas.
- Boost Your Own Morale: Allow yourself a treat from time to time, especially if you have overcome a hurdle in personal presentation, particularly after your first formal talk or after a successful meeting. It does not have to be expensive - a cup of coffee at a pleasant place, or some other treat.
- Congratulate Yourself on a job/task well done and perhaps tell a friend. Do not always be the one to give out praise, you need some too. Justified praise is a good boost to morale.
- Learn to Channel Nerves and Tension Positively: when you are nervous, adrenalin is pumped through the body and you feel more keyed up and alert. This extra energy can be used to good effect; enabling you to communicate with greater enthusiasm and intensity, for example.
- Learn to be Assertive: Stand up for what you believe in and do not be pressured by others. See our section on Assertiveness for lots more information about becoming more assertive.
“Improving Self-Esteem” Skills You Need. Skills You Need., n.d. Web. 11 Feb 2016.