What Is Self-Esteem?

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Having healthy self-esteem can affect your motivation, mental health, and overall quality of life. However, self-esteem that is too high or too low can cause problems. A better understanding of what your unique self-esteem is can help you strike a balance that’s right for you.

What is Self-Esteem?

In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall subjective feeling of worth or personal worth. In other words, self-esteem can be defined as the degree to which you appreciate and like yourself no matter the circumstances. Your self-esteem is determined by many factors including:

  • Confident
  • Safe feeling
  • Accuracy
  • Feeling of belonging
  • Feelings of competence

Other terms often used interchangeably with self-esteem include self-worth, self-esteem, and self-esteem.

Self-esteem tends to be lowest during childhood and increases during adolescence, as well as into adulthood, eventually reaching fairly stable and lasting levels. This makes self-esteem similar to the stability of personality traits over time.

Why is confidence important?

Self-esteem affects your decision-making, your relationships, your emotional health, and your overall health. It also affects motivation, as people with a healthy, positive view of themselves understand their potential and can feel inspired to take on new challenges. People with healthy self-esteem:

  • Have a solid understanding of their skills
  • Able to maintain healthy relationships with others because they have healthy relationships with themselves
  • Have realistic and appropriate expectations of themselves and their abilities
  • Understand their needs and be able to express them

People with low self-esteem tend to feel less certain of their abilities and may question their decision-making processes. They may not feel motivated to try new things because they don’t believe they can achieve their goals. People with low self-esteem may have problems with relationships and expressing their needs. They may also experience low self-esteem and feel unlovable and unworthy.

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People with excessive self-esteem may overestimate their skills and may feel entitled to succeed, even without the ability to reinforce self-belief. They may struggle with relationship problems and hinder self-improvement because they try too hard to see themselves as perfect.

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Many theorists have written about the motivations involved in the development of self-esteem. The concept of self-esteem plays an important role in psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which describes self-esteem as one of the fundamental human motivations.

Maslow argued that individuals need both appreciation from others and inner self-esteem to build self-esteem. Both of these needs must be met in order for an individual to develop as a person and reach the capacity for self-actualization.

It’s important to note that self-esteem is a distinct concept from self-efficacy, which involves how well you believe you will handle future actions, performance, or abilities as well. how.

Factors affecting self-confidence

There are many factors that can affect self-esteem. Your self-esteem can be affected by:

  • Age
  • Disabilities
  • Genetics
  • Sick
  • Physical ability
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Thought pattern

Racism and discrimination have also been shown to have a negative impact on self-esteem. In addition, genetic factors that help shape a person’s personality may play a role, but life experience is believed to be the most important factor.

It is our own experiences that often underlie our overall self-esteem. For example, people who regularly receive overly critical or negative reviews from family and friends may feel self-conscious. People who experience what Carl Rogers calls unconditional positive caring are more likely to have healthy self-esteem.

Healthy confidence

There are a few simple ways to tell if you have healthy self-esteem. You can have healthy self-esteem if you:

  • Avoid dwelling on past negative experiences
  • Believe that you are equal to all others, no better, no less
  • Express your needs
  • Feel confident
  • Have a positive outlook on life
  • Say no when you want
  • See your overall strengths and weaknesses and accept them

Having healthy self-esteem can help motivate you to achieve your goals, because you can navigate life knowing that you are capable of accomplishing what you set out to do. Additionally, when you have healthy self-esteem, you can set appropriate boundaries in your relationships and maintain healthy relationships with yourself and others.


Low self-esteem can manifest in many different ways. If you have low self-esteem:

  • You may believe that others are better than you.
  • You may find it difficult to express your needs.
  • You can focus on your weaknesses.
  • You may often feel fear, lack of confidence, and anxiety.
  • You may have a negative outlook on life and feel a lack of control.
  • You may have a fear of failure.
  • You may have trouble accepting positive feedback.
  • You may have trouble saying no and setting boundaries.
  • You can put the needs of others before your own.
  • You may struggle with confidence.

Low self-esteem has the potential to lead to a range of mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. You may also have trouble pursuing your goals and maintaining healthy relationships. Having low self-esteem can seriously affect your quality of life and increase your risk of suicidal thoughts.

Excessive selfie

Excessive self-esteem is often mistakenly referred to as narcissism, however, there are several distinguishing features that help distinguish these terms. People with narcissistic traits may have high self-esteem, but their self-esteem can be high or low and unstable, constantly changing depending on certain situations. People with excessive self-esteem:

  • May be preoccupied with being perfect
  • Can focus on always being right
  • It is possible to believe that they cannot fail
  • It is possible to believe that they are more skilled or better than others
  • Can express grandiose ideas
  • May overestimate their skills and abilities

When self-esteem is too high, it can lead to relationship problems, difficulty in social situations, and an inability to accept criticism.

How to improve self-confidence

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address self-esteem issues. Some actions you can take to help improve your self-esteem include:

Low self-esteem can contribute to or be a symptom of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. Consider talking to your doctor or therapist about available treatment options, which may include psychotherapy (in person or online), medication, or a combination of both.

Get advice from the Very Good Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and Therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares strategies that can help you learn to truly believe in yourself, featuring a creator. IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima.

By the hour: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

A very good word

While some causes of low self-esteem can’t be changed, such as genetics, childhood experiences, and personality traits, there are steps you can take to feel safe. and more valuable. Remember that no one is less deserving than the next person. Keeping this in mind can help you maintain healthy self-esteem.

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