Signs of healthy and unhealthy Self-Esteem
A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself – Alexandre Dumas
This is the first post in a series looking at healthy and unhealthy self-esteem. This time, we are considering what self-esteem is and searching for what signs to look out for in someone that may have low self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs and feelings that we have about ourselves. It tends to be developed over time, and forms through experience and interpretation of your environment. In particular, your perception of how your family, friends and colleagues view you is particularly influential.
Is self-esteem important?
Does it actually matter what beliefs and feelings about yourself you have? Research has shown that a healthy self-esteem creates a long list of positive effects on your life. Children perform better at school. You are more likely to be persistent and to stick at tasks for longer. Personal and social skills are improved, and meaningful relationships are formed easier. You are much more likely to have better coping skills and emotional adjustment. Finally, you are more likely to have a better overall mental health.
What are the signs?
Identifying healthy and unhealthy levels in yourself and those close to you is a very valuable skill. Being able to pick up on the signs is an early step to improving your self-esteem and that of those close to you. One of the most common signs is speaking negatively about yourself. People with unhealthy self-esteem tend to be overly-critical of themselves and easily get disappointed in their efforts at a task. On the other hand, people with a healthy self-esteem tend to persist at a task, confident in their ability to complete. They tend to enjoy interacting with others more and are comfortable in social settings.
One thing to note is that people with a healthy self-esteem are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They accept them. Having a high level does not mean that you believe that you are great at everything. It means that you can take a healthy and objective view of your ability. For example, you can say that you are not very good at cooking food. That is ok to say and believe, because the person with a healthy self-esteem is not saying it critically, and will just as easily say ‘ok, I’ll practice at it more and I’m sure I’ll be good then.’
In the next article, we will look at ways in which we can use identity and belonging to improve our self-esteem, and in those around us.