Self-esteem is the degree to which one feels confident, valuable, and worthy of respect. It exists on a continuum from high to low. Where a person’s self-esteem falls on this spectrum can influence one’s overall well-being.
People with high self-esteem often feel good about themselves and their progress through life. People with low self-esteem is likely to have a low opinion of themselves. They may compare themselves to others, then judge themselves inferior. They often spend lots of time criticizing themselves. The cycle of self-criticism can sap away a person’s joy in life. They may stop doing hobbies they once enjoyed for fear of judgment. Feelings of anger, guilt, or sadness may keep them from enjoying what activities they do try. In some cases, low self-esteem is in itself a cardinal feature of several mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or borderline personality disorder.
Self-doubt can interfere with productivity at work or school. A person may worry so much about others’ opinions that they don’t focus on the task at hand. They may avoid taking risks or making goals out of a certainty they will fail. A person with low self-esteem may lack resilience in the face of a challenge.
Self-esteem issues can also impact one’s social life. Someone with low self-esteem may believe they are unworthy of love. They may try to “earn” the love of others and accept negative treatment. Others may bully and criticize others to compensate for their own insecurities. A fear of rejection can prevent people from seeking relationships at all. Social isolation can further feed into a negative self-image.
Regardless of the factors contributing to one’s low self-esteem, support is available. Counseling can help a client address the emotions underlying low self-esteem. With time and work, it is possible to develop a healthy relationship with oneself.