The Importance of Self-Esteem
We spend a lot of time in our lives judging things. Is this right? Does that work? Is this a good idea? But, the most important judgment you make is when you judge yourself. That judgment is known as your self-esteem. And, enhancing your self-esteem and nurturing its health is vital for your psychological growth.
When you emotionally and cognitive evaluate your own worth and abilities, you are exercising your self-esteem. How high or low you judge yourself has a tremendous influence on how you think and feel as well as how you act. Psychologists who study human behavior and cognition agree that self-esteem is a helpful tool for their work because it can help to predict outcomes including satisfaction in relationships, happiness, overall achievement, and even criminal behavior.
What you need to remember about self-esteem is that it actually has very little connection to your actual ability or talent. You can be really good at something and still have low self-esteem about yourself in this area.
The experiences in your life play a vital role in the development of your self-esteem. Parents, guardians, and siblings are the primary source of your experiences when you are young and therefore have a considerable influence over your esteem development. How parents speak to children, give and withhold love, acknowledge achievements, and set expectations all play a role in forming your self-esteem from a very early age.
But your self-esteem continues to develop throughout your life. Your successes and failures, no matter your age, inform how harshly or kindly you judge yourself. Each of us has an inner voice that repeats the many messages we have heard throughout our lives, reassuring or punishing us for our various actions.
Other factors that influence your self-esteem over time include the success or failure of various relationships, your physical appearance, your socioeconomic status, and any mental health issues you may have.
How Self-Esteem Affects Your Life
When you have higher self-esteem, you are more likely to have more lasting and healthy relationships. You can trust others and value their input in your life. High self-esteem is also correlated with emotional stability, conscientiousness, and being extroverted.
Low self-esteem can lead to problems with depression or anxiety, social isolation, and loneliness. Those with a low judgment of themselves are more likely to feel chronic stress, which can lead to physical health issues. Low self-esteem can cause problems in your interactions with other people, including romantic partners, friends, and colleagues. Those who struggle with their self-esteem can have troubles professionally, as they try to compensate for their low sense of self.
Some common signs of a person with low self-esteem include being a perfectionist, blaming yourself for everything, comparing yourself to others, refusing to accept compliments, and being afraid of failure. All of these can have severe consequences for your behavior.
In some people, low self-esteem results in self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviors. Substance abuse is higher among those with low self-esteem, as are actions that allow them to avoid disappointment or potential hurt.
The downward self-esteem spiral is a vicious cycle. You have negative opinions of yourself, which leads to forming negative expectations about what will happen in your life. When these things come true, it reinforces your poor self-esteem, increasing your chances of failure. This leads to blaming yourself and even lower esteem.
Having a higher sense of self-esteem is vital to accomplishing your goals in life, being happy with what you have, and learning to respect yourself and your talents. While some of our esteem comes from early life experiences, you continue to evolve this construct over time, which means it’s never too late to improve your self-esteem.