We use the
phrase self-esteem to talk about the beliefs you have about yourself – what you
think about the type of person you are, your abilities, the positive and
negative things about you and what you expect for your future.
If you have
healthy self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will generally be positive.
You may experience difficult times in your life, but you will generally be able
to deal with these without them having too much of a long-term negative impact
If you have
low self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will often be negative. You will
tend to focus on your weaknesses or mistakes that you have made, and may find
it hard to recognize the positive parts of your personality. You may also blame
yourself for any difficulties or failures that you have.
esteem is not inherited. There are always external causes of low self esteem,
which, if detected, can be rectified. This can lead to improved self esteem.
After a child
is born, it starts receiving external stimuli of various type. Some of these
are loving, caring, supporting, encouraging, etc. But some other stimuli are
put-downers, outright insults, doubts, suspicions, discouragement, etc.
depends on what a child receives more, and how he/she takes it. If there is an
overload of negative stimuli then the child is sure to have a negative attitude
and low self esteem later in life.
list details a few possible cause of low self esteem.
of Low Self-Esteem:
When a child
is growing, if it receives too many criticisms, then it may develop a negative
pattern of thinking. Depending on the type of criticisms it is bombarded with,
it may, consciously or unconsciously, say such statements to itself:
- Negative Self Talk
Constant repetition of such statements only reinforces the negative beliefs.
What was only a statement to begin with, soon becomes a core belief. The
behaviour then changes to match that belief And lo! A low self esteem person is
- I am not good enough.
- I can’t do math.
- My grammar is bad.
- I am bad at sports.
- I can’t talk with girls/boys.
- I can’t speak in front of a
- I am always badly dressed.
- I don’t look good.
important influence on a child is that of parents. It is natural that if
parents have high self esteem, they will pass it on to the child. The reverse
is also true. A child of parents with low self esteem inherits it from the
It is therefore
necessary for parents to shower their child with positivism, encouragement,
love and support. Avoid criticisms, put-downs, harsh words, unfair comparisons
and unrealistic expectations.
If the seeds
of high self esteem are planted and nurtured in the child at an early age, then
the weeds of low self esteem will have no chance to grow.
- Environmental Causes
Little or no
education is one of the major causes of low self esteem. Here education does
not mean a school or college degree, though that helps. It means being
knowledgeable, or not being ignorant. When you ‘know’, you need not feel
interacts with people, including strangers, one realises within a few moments
whether the other person is more knowledgeable or less. If all the people that
one encounters are superior in knowledge, then naturally a sense of low self
worth will develop.
many people who have not completed even school education, but have built huge
businesses or have been successful in politics and other fields. This was
possible because they educated themselves through books and other means. Thus,
they raised their self esteem even without a university degree.
times in life when a child or even a grown up person is compared with his/her
peer. Most of the times such a comparison is unfair.
A child who
has scored poorly in an exam is compared with another child who has scored high
marks and is scolded in the process. But it may be a fact that the low scoring
child may have aptitude in some other field. He may be a champion athlete or a
of being encouraged for his qualities, he is criticized for his weaknesses, he
will develop a low self worth vis-à-vis other children and suffer for the rest
of his life.
- Unfair Comparisons
"Everybody is a genius. But if you
judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life
believing that it is stupid."
people develop low self esteem due to wrong or inferior attitude. A poor person
may feel inferior to a rich person even though he may be having a better
character. A short person may have a low self worth simply because he is
physically smaller than others.
looking girl may think that other girls are superior to her only because they
are better looking. Thus, wrong attitude (not bad attitude) can be one of the
causes of low self esteem.
We can thus
see that low self esteem is an acquired trait. It is not an inherited quality
like the color of the skin or the voice of a person. Like all acquired traits,
this can also be treated and cured. Just remember that whatever be the causes
of low self esteem, it can always be improved.
- Wrong Attitude
We use the phrase self-esteem to talk about the beliefs you have about yourself – what you think about the type of person you are, your abilities, the positive and negative things about you and what you expect for your future.