What is Self-esteem?
Self-esteem, in short, is your opinion of yourself and foundational to how you interact with others, both personally and professionally. You may identify it with feelings of self-confidence, security, identity, competence and a sense of belonging. All of these impact your decision-making processes, emotional health and motivation. Some will go as far as to say that healthy self-esteem is one of the determinants of excellence in life.
Self-esteem develops over many years and is impacted by several factors along the way. Some include age, genetics, disabilities, illnesses, physical appearance, physical and intellectual abilities and socioeconomic status. However, psychotherapists believe life experiences are extremely important in how a person’s sense of self develops. Racism, discrimination and sexism, for example, can severely stunt a person’s self-esteem growth, as can consistent critical feedback from family members during the formative years.
People with a healthy sense of self tend to be more motivated and inspired to take on challenges. Also, they set appropriate boundaries to create and maintain healthy relationships. In general, here are some of the qualities that define a person with healthy self-esteem. They are:
- Able to move on without dwelling on past negative experiences, leveraging them as learning opportunities.
- Keenly aware of their strengths and shortcomings.
- Can comfortably express their needs and ask for help.
- Do not consider themselves superior to others.
- Feel confident and have a positive outlook on life.
- Know their boundaries and are comfortable with saying no.
Individuals with low self-esteem are the exact opposite of what is described above. They put other people’s needs before their own and suffer failures deeply and intensely. They focus on their weaknesses, frequently experience fear, self-doubt, and low confidence levels. In addition, they also have trouble accepting positive feedback and setting boundaries. They are profoundly challenged by their perceived lack of control over their lives because they believe they are less capable than those around them. This causes them to let others drive important decisions.
Some individuals with low-self esteem learn to compensate for it by boasting and acting superior to others. People with healthy self-esteem are generally more understated and grounded. Recognize inflated self-esteem as a mask to cover insecurity and low self-esteem. Such individuals may lack the graciousness to take advice from others. Rather, they often undervalue opinions that are contradictory to their own and adopt hostile attitudes towards those with more competence. They may actually harbour such enormous fear of failure and rejection that they camouflage their shortcomings by bragging about themselves and putting others down.
Both low and inflated self-esteem can negatively impact all facets of your life, including relationships, career and health. They lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depressive disorders. Poor self-esteem makes it difficult to pursue goals, maintain healthy relationships and enjoy a good quality of life. In fact, such individuals may be at an increased risk of experiencing suicidal ideation, particularly in adolescence.
Improving Self-Esteem Through Self Development
Self-development is a process of improving oneself and a continuous lifelong process of self-growth ultimately leading to self-fulfillment. It can be divided into three sections: skill enhancement, habit creation and mental conditioning.
Skill enhancement consists of developing new skills, abilities, and competencies. These could include goal setting, problem-solving, time management and stress management. Habit creation involves self-awareness or self-discovery. You must first understand where you are in order to make progress. Mental conditioning is the process of building and strengthening your mind so you can focus on your goals, build a positive sense of yourself and boost your self-confidence.
While you can tackle all of these with self-help books and videos, many people find the services of a trained therapist extremely helpful to ensure you remain on the progressive path forward.
Working With A Therapist
A trained mental health professional can help you learn new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you and help you listen to yourself. Therapists can deploy a multitude of scientifically proven modalities to help you improve your self-esteem. The strategies listed above can be accomplished with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), for example. It highlights the notion that your thoughts impact your emotions which in turn impact your behaviour. Other types of therapies include
- Attachment-based therapies
- Trauma-informed therapies
- Experiential and Humanistic therapies
- Psychodynamic therapies
- Somatic therapies
- Systemic and Collaborative therapies
Once your therapist has assessed your situation, he or she will formulate a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs. To that end, the most successful outcomes in therapy come from the quality of the therapist/client relationship. Consequently, you should reach out and interview several therapists before settling on the right one for you. You may ask if they have worked with other clients in similar situations as yourself. This therapeutic relationship must remain compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental. Select a therapist you feel most comfortable with because rapport and trust are important elements in your therapy.
Therapy fees are one reason why people avoid seeking help and we understand this, completely. Here’s how we charge for our time. We are happy to have a frank and open discussion with you about this to ensure we manage your care in the best way possible. Our services are covered by most extended benefit insurance plans. If you do not have coverage, we also offer affordable therapy sessions at discounted rates through our internship program. Therapy is an investment in your health and happiness and it is more affordable than common belief.
Also, our blogs, authored by professionally trained therapists, are available for free on our website. We publish them regularly and feature topics that are useful for individuals, couples and families. We encourage you to visit our site often. In many cases, this information will help you understand what you are experiencing. However, our blogs do not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, treatment or therapy. You must always consult with a physician, psychologist or qualified mental health provider to professionally direct your physical, mental and emotional health.
Often a few targeted therapy sessions may be all you require. We never keep you in therapy for longer than you need. To accommodate varying schedules we offer online and in-person therapy sessions during office hours, evenings and weekends.