Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Do We Have Low Self-Esteem?

Self Esteem Store
Wait? You can buy self esteem?!
Courtesy of Dave Hogg
Low self-esteem is a feeling that you're worthless, insignificant and/or not as good as other people. You may feel like your body is not attractive or as attractive as other people's bodies. You may feel like you are intellectually stunted, unfit, etc. In short, a person with low self-esteem feels inferior to other people. This is a very difficult feeling. It can interfere with your level of energy, employment, relationships and many other things. It leaves you vulnerable to people who want to take advantage of you. If you have low self-esteem, you know the negative effects it can have on your life, but what causes it? How do people come to feel so badly about themselves?

A negative opinion of one's self can come from many different things. It can begin during a person's formative years. If a child's parents, family or classmates are mean to him about his appearance, intellectual capacity or any other aspect of his self, he may grow up to share their opinions. Growing up hearing, "You're ugly." "You're fat." or "You're stupid." on a regular basis can cause you to think everyone feels that way about you. You may become afraid to make friends, have relationships or even apply for a job because you assume that no one would want you for anything because you are what those cruel people said about you.

Low self-esteem can arise later in life too. For example, when a person begins having romantic relationships, they can develop a habit of looking down on themselves. One mentally abusive relationship is enough to make a person go from confident to self-loathing. An emotionally abusive person typically employs a slew of insults to control their significant other. After time, you can start to believe those insults are true. This is not very different from having emotionally abusive parents or being bullied in school.

Body image-related low self-esteem does not always come from insults. People are sometimes born looking different from others or an accident dramatically alters their appearance. Sure, this can lead to insults. However, low self-esteem can come from simply looking in the mirror and at other people. It is a rare person who feels comfortable when they look very different from others. A person may also look to the media to get their idea of what they should look like. This can lead to ideas that they have to be overly fit, dangerously skinny, tiny-nosed, perfectly made up, have brilliant hair, etc. Unfortunately, low self-esteem that comes from feeling like this can lead to far worse problems, such as eating disorders.

Finally, we of the mentally ill sort know that low self-esteem doesn't always have an outward cause. It can come from deep within, boiling up from the miasma of depression and anxiety. When this abysmal sense of self worth is coupled with the other low thoughts that come from mental illness, hopelessness is not far behind. However, there's "good news, everyone!" Mental health counselors can work on this with their clients. It's not a quick fix, but you will learn to treat yourself better and not rely so heavily on other people's opinions. Yeah, I'm still working on this.

Surround yourself with positive people. Try to be a positive person. Eventually, your mind will follow suit.