Individuals that are self-assured and confident make those around them feel safe and at ease. Children feel most secure around these individuals. Let’s face it, if the building catches on fire and you have to escape, who do you want to be with? The confident person who says we can do this? Or the person who says, "I don’t think we can get out." Children are like people who are in a building that could go up in flames at any time. A persistent state; they are perpetually vulnerable. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to think that many individuals, especially kids, are drawn to self-assured people. It was essential for their survival. To live, all children are reliant on adults.

According to the American Psychological Association, self-esteem is "the extent to which one's self-concept is judged to possess good attributes and characteristics." It reflects a person's physical self-image, perception of their accomplishments and capabilities, values, and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person. Having a high sense of self-worth means that you value both your own potential and the potential of others. Your definition of who you are as a person—including your personality, physical appearance, abilities, and how others see you—is reflected in your self-esteem. For self-esteem, each person places varying emphasis on various factors.

But most of the time, we feel good about ourselves and understand that our actions, interactions with others, and achievements and disappointments are all a part of the larger framework of our life. When we lose this sense of context and perspective and our self-view becomes overly negatively biased, problems may result. Therefore, although high levels of positive self-esteem are possible, it's more common to encounter individuals who have low levels of self-esteem. It may become quite crippling, having a detrimental effect on our quality of life and our capacity to handle the obstacles we face every day.

Where does a lack of self-esteem come from?

One's self-esteem can be impacted by a variety of things. Your sense of self-esteem may be affected by the following elements:

1. Constant criticism since childhood. Whether a person is a toddler or an adult, a teenager or an elderly person, this is a fairly common characteristic that generally impacts how they think about themselves. If you have experienced harsh criticism ever since you dared to leave your comfort zone, or your "cocoon," in order to try something unique and difficult, then the likelihood is high that every action you take in life will be constrained by the paralyzing fear of criticism—both personally and professionally.

It's tragic that we live in a culture where parents, teachers, and mentors focus more on criticizing kids than they do on praising them, which in turn causes them to have unimaginably low self-esteem.

2. Physical attributes. Body stereotypes, which have persisted in our culture for countless years now, are equally effective at lowering one's self-esteem, regardless of gender. In this blog, men are expected to be strong and muscular to live up to society's ideal of the alpha male, while women are expected to be physically attractive in the traditional sense, with chiseled bodies, slim arms and legs, and perfect proportions.

Now, these idealized portrayals of men and women are remarkably consistent with the artificial beauty standards promoted by large corporations or the media sector. People with flawed bodies and undesirable physical traits thus begin to feel negatively about their bodies. This occasionally even causes depression and has an impact on mental health. People lack the confidence to move about with ease and become too self-conscious whenever they go out or exhibit themselves in public.

3. Bullying. Bullying as a child can have lasting emotional effects, but there is a far higher chance of recovery and self-esteem restoration if you have the support of a family that is generally secure, attentive, and observant. External suffering, however, can produce a tremendous sensation of being lost, abandoned, hopeless, and emotions of self-loathing if the family environment already feels dangerous or unstable. A child may struggle with feeling unnoticed, unworthy of attention, and resentful of being neglected while primary caregivers are elsewhere busy during bullying episodes. Shame and anguish are brought to the fore when one feels insecure in the world. These emotions can also surface when parents are preoccupied with transitory phases. It might be difficult for a child to seek attention when things are chaotic at home; instead, they may withdraw and grow more alienated. 

The notion that everyone who befriends you is doing you a favor, whether because you perceive yourself as broken or because you believe most people have predatory, hidden goals, can also lead to distrust as a kid or adult. The effects of bullying can be amplified far into adulthood without a loving family environment.

4. Trauma. Abuse that is either physical, sexual, or emotional may be the most glaring and obvious reason for poor self-esteem. It may be challenging to build trust when you are coerced into a physical and emotional situation against your will; this has a significant influence on self-esteem. Displaced guilt, which frequently plagues trauma patients, can worsen feelings of shame and low self-esteem. Victims may persuade themselves that they contributed to or were even to blame for their circumstances in an effort to take control of them. This coping mechanism for abuse can result in emotions of intense guilt, revulsion, nightmares, insomnia and self-hatred. Keep in mind, addiction is trauma too. Dependence on alcohol or drugs or any process addiction (pornography, screens, shopping, etc) … trauma.

5. Society and media. It's no secret that celebrities in the media are posed and airbrushed to meet inflated criteria for physical attractiveness. Although the roots of low and ill-esteem can be planted elsewhere, it is challenging to ignore the images and portrayals that are present in media such as television, movies, and advertising. Bad self-image and eating disorders have been linked to young children's early exposure to physical comparisons and intrusive thoughts since media access is so readily available to them. Physical or financial insecurities at an early age can have significant effects long into adulthood and lead to poor self-image. Self-awareness can be distorted after prolonged exposure to what your screen reflects back to you.

How can you boost your self-esteem?

Although developing strong self-esteem (and resilience) is not simple, it is definitely doable and within your power—and may significantly improve your life. It takes awareness, effort, perseverance, and a desire to investigate and challenge negative self-talk. To actively reinforce accurate thoughts in order to increase self-esteem, be aware of who and what you spend time with. While giving yourself grace is essential, you can build new habits by starting with one positive action in the direction of your values.

If you appreciate and respect yourself, you will also realize that you deserve to take care of yourself, which might motivate you to continue in these efforts even when new constructs are challenged by people, screens, circumstances or thoughts. If you don't think well of yourself, it's hard to take care of yourself. According to studies, self-forgiveness might also contribute to higher self-esteem. In essence, it's about embracing and accepting yourself as you are. Change doesn’t happen if you skip this step. 

Some helpful tidbits:

1. Accept compliments. Instead of resisting praise, resist the impulse to ask for more information or to block the kind words. Breathe, smile and say thank you. Research demonstrates a clear link between the inability to take compliments and low self-esteem. But, mental health declines when we live in cognitive distortions or even delusions about who we are - good or bad. Awareness is a practice and it starts with a meditation practice.

2. Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. If you want others to be nice to you, learn to do it first. Nobody is flawless or completely in love with themselves. Don't hold yourself to unreachable standards. Being patient with your self-criticism is being compassionate towards yourself. Consider what you would say to a buddy in a comparable circumstance. We frequently offer ourselves far worse counsel than we do to others.

3. Recognize your strengths. Whether it's baking, singing, solving riddles, or even simply being a friend, we're all good at something. It's no accident that we love doing the things we excel in, which may lift your spirits and increase your self-esteem.

4. Build wholesome connections. Make a list of the individuals you are surrounded by. Spending less time with some and/or confronting some about their conduct might help you course-correct a relationship. If they someone is unable to adapt to your choices, an evaluation may be necessary. What good are they bringing to your life? If this list is short. Pause before proceeding with inviting them into travel through the wins and the losses life promises.

5. Seek help. Through counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, you may develop skills to slow or cease negative self-talk. Through dialectical skills, you will practice more emotional regulation and mindfulness. 

It may be time to seek professional assistance if you realize that addressing self-esteem issues on your own isn't yielding the desired outcomes. In order to help, Solstice Pacific provides a wide variety of care, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and psychiatry.

You can get in touch with us by texting or calling (949) 200-7929. If you want to talk after this quick assessment, that can help sort and inform what services suit you best.

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