What is My Self Esteem? It’s Everything About You.
In a similar previous post, we talked about our body image. We said that our body image is and that this can be determined by looking in the mirror…literally, by looking at our bodies.
This post, however, is not about body image and although body image and self esteem may be similar, they are definitely not the same.
Body image is all about our bodies and the way in which we view them. Self esteem is an all-encompassing view of ourselves. It is much more than our bodies…it deals with us as persons.
So then, what is our self esteem?
Our self esteem is the way in which we value and appreciate ourselves. It is how we recognise and treat the strengths, qualities and attributes that not only make us who we are but more so, that make us unique.
It’s good to know that our self esteem develops primarily through the messages we receive from others- either directly or indirectly- and our observations of those around us. However, our own experiences and our imagination of the future also impacts out self esteem.
Depending on these messages, observations, experiences and images and based on our reactions and internalisations, our self esteem is affected. This affect could be positive, resulting in high self esteem or negative, resulting in low self esteem.
Two things must be noted about our self esteem.
- It is developed at an early age. Self esteem is formed in childhood. Remarks from parents and relatives are for the most part positive and otherwise, corrective. They find high value in themselves and this is a sobering thought but they have not been corrupted and brought down by the cruel remarks of people in the world. This usually shows in the confidence that they have. As they age and are exposed to different things, their self esteem will be affected.
- It is not static. As self esteem is affected by so many different things, it can be easily and constantly be changed. So much so that your self esteem this may not be your self esteem next week. Circumstances may have caused a change. Age is also a great determinant of self esteem as usually, our self esteem improves as we get older and gain a greater understanding of ourselves.
Now that we have a general knowledge of the concept of self esteem, let’s get into further detail about how it is formed.
Experiences from Our Childhood
As we said, our self esteem is developed from an early age. It is the reactions of our parents and relatives that help us to form an identity. And throughout this time, our self esteem is generally positive. However, it is when we begin to go to school that there is the possibility of our self esteem being affected to a greater extent.
School has this ability as it is when we are first exposed to comparisons. We are compared to others based on our academic work, our behaviours, through sports and games and our appearance.
Sharing so much time in this environment of comparison can positively or negatively affect a child’s self esteem. I believe that it can have a positive effect if there are positive reinforcements at home. And in the same way, these comparisons can have a negative effect if they are reinforced at home.
Through our childhood experiences, a healthy or unhealthy self esteem is formed.
Here, we are not talking about the natural environment in terms of trees and lakes but the social environment in terms of interactions with others.
Perhaps, the first social environment that we should talk about is the family or the home environment. And this is the social environment that has a very important role in forming our self esteem and can also be the agent that breaks. It is undeniable that a healthy home environment where there is love, encouragement and admiration results in a favourable self esteem. And likewise, a toxic home environment results in an unfavourable self esteem.
The media, as you may know, has a serious effect on our self esteem. This is not only as it relates to our body image and what we believe we should look like based on what those in media look like but also their demeanour, eloquence and dress. If we do not feel as though we meet the standards that are set by those we admire in media, we tend to see ourselves lower in personal value.
Society itself can influence our self esteem. And more so, the expectations of society. In many societies, there are things that everyone holds as standards of success and anything below that is seen as failure. Where I live, success is defined by going to school, graduating and getting a job.
If these standards that are set by society are not met, we may feel as though we have failed and this could negatively affect our self esteem and vice versa.
Messages/ Information We Receive from Others
Words have the ability to build us up or destroy us and what others say help us to build a valuation of ourselves. It’s sad but true but we see ourselves in terms of how others see us and how the express this.
Others’ words may have an impact on us but this is particularly strong in familial or romantic relationships as these are the people with whom we have emotional connections and who we trust the most to give us honest opinions about ourselves.
In these relationships, self esteem is improved through encouragement and admiration and destroyed through the opposite, unappreciation being one.
Our personal accomplishments, whether big or small, can improve our self esteem. This is so especially if they are deemed to be important by us, our family or by the society in which we live.
When we are in school and we do well in our exams, we feel proud in what we have accomplished. When we graduate, we have the same feeling. How about when we get our first job or buy a home or have our first child? We have the same feeling- that feeling of accomplishment…of satisfaction.
In essence, self esteem is fed by what we consider to be of great value and we find joy, contentment and pride when we acquire and achieve such things.
So there you have it. Your self esteem deals with the value you place upon yourself…your entire self. And as you can see, it is formed by many things, both internal and external…directly or indirectly.
Leave me a comment and tell me what you think is the most important factor in the development of your self esteem.