Have you ever wanted to try something new, but didn't for fear you would fail? Bought a dress you loved but never wore it because, "what if...?" These feelings relate directly to your self-esteem.
Self-esteem is defined as the confidence someone has in themselves, and their feelings of self-respect and self-worth. Often, when someone has low self-esteem, they are unhappy with who they are as individuals, usually believing they can't accomplish anything - and can even believe they are unworthy of other people's love and affection. On the other hand, someone with high self-esteem believes in themselves, their abilities, and their worthiness of love.
So why do people develop low self-esteem?
Difficulties in early life: Early childhood experiences directly affect your self-esteem from the beginning. Traumatic encounters, bullying, or even abuse or family conflict can cause children to develop low self-esteems. This comes from the feeling of complete lack of control over your surroundings, and an inability to protect yourself. That feeling often follows people into adulthood, causing self-esteem issues.
Dysfunctional Parenting: Healthy parenting plays an enormous role in the way a person develops self-esteem. People with extremely critical parents, or extremely busy parents, often don't get the right support - this lack of attention can cause loss of confidence in the child's abilities, and they might end up feeling unwanted, or like they are not valuable enough for people to want to be around them.
Messages from the media: Advertisements are created, specifically, to show people the things they are 'missing' in their lives so they will want to purchase a product. TV shows and adverts often are completely misleading about the way that people look and behave, causing some individuals to believe that they just don't measure up. Being constantly surrounded by these messages and reminders that you 'don't look right' or 'aren't skinny/strong enough' will inevitably have a dramatic impact on a person's self-esteem.
How can we build a healthy self-esteem?
Practice Affirmations: Affirmations, or positive messages that you can repeat to yourself in order to get rid of those negative thoughts/emotions, are a helpful tool in building your self-esteem. Try to make yourself a list of 3 or 4, and then repeat them to yourself whenever you are feeling down. For example, "I am worthy of love and respect", "I like myself the way I am", "I am a supportive and loving friend."
Identify your strengths: People fighting with their self-esteem often hyper-focus on their negative qualities, instead of building themselves up over all the positive qualities they have! Try to take the time to think about the things you have done to positively impact others' lives - this can be holding a door for someone who's hands are full, telling a joke to a coworker, or giving spare change to a person in need.
Build better relationships: The people that you surround yourself with is just as important as the way you treat yourself. If you are surrounded by people who invalidate and belittle you, you're never going to get over the hump of feeling bad about yourself, because they're constantly making you feel worse! It's important to have people in your life that respect your boundaries, accept you for who you are without overlooking your flaws, and communicate with you in a constructive manner that allows for improvement!
Make sure you take the time to build yourself up - a strong self-esteem is the backbone to a healthy life! If you don't value yourself, you'll allow yourself to be treated poorly - and no one deserves to feel undervalued!