What does it mean to have self-esteem issues

A low self-esteem or lack of confidence in ourselves can affect what we think about ourselves or abilities. Low self-esteem can also affect our decision making process. Also, when it becomes long-term, it can pose problems to our mental health.

We don’t feel good all the time. Sometimes, we may be in our lowest moments, doubt our abilities and want to hide in the crowd. We may also be unsatisfied about the outcomes of things around us. These may be signs of low self-esteem. 
Low self-esteem can affect the overall performance of a person; physically, mentally, socially or psychologically. In more serious cases where low self-esteem results in anxiety, suicidal thoughts or depression, one may have to see a therapist or a doctor.
In this article, we will look at what self-esteem is, the causes of low self-esteem, the signs of low self-esteem and how they can be dealt with.

What is self-esteem?

Your opinion of yourself is self-esteem. How/what you feel about yourself, abilities, achievements, failures or flaws; all sum up to your self-esteem. 
A person with a healthy self-esteem, prides his/herself with their achievements. They are optimistic about life in general even when it comes with its downs. 
However, people that struggle with their self-esteem, may undermine their abilities and see themselves as ‘not good enough'. They magnify their flaws and feel incapable of dealing with the challenges life tosses at them.
A research carried out in 2019, showed that low self-esteem is a predictive factor of students academic performance.

What causes low self-esteem?

A number of factors can trigger low self-esteem. Some of them are:
• What people think or say about us – Constant criticism from family, friends, colleagues or partners can result in low self-esteem. Some people, in their childhood were victims of verbal abuses. Some were raised in loveless, negative environment. This may, in the long run, affect what they think of themselves.

•  The high, unreachable standards of  social media – Social Media have in no small way played a role in how people see themselves. Many of them who want to be like one model or celebrity lack a sense of worth. Unfortunately, the standard keeps changing and they try to keep up with it. Thereby, losing themselves in the process.

•  Others are: how we feel about our body image, size or appearance, desire to fit into the system, levels of achievement, peer pressure, mental or physical challenges, relationship problems, bullying, perfectionism, comparing oneself to other or comparison from others, the pressure to do things that one’s peers are succeeding at, etc.

The signs of low self-esteem

People may be suffering from low self-esteem if they:
• Have intense imposter syndrome
• Are highly critical about themselves
• Feel inferior among their peers
• React negatively to failures
• Take the blame for things that did not go right
• Do not celebrate their wins
• Wave off compliments from others about their positive qualities
• Feel unloved or unaccepted
• Have self doubt 
• Overly react or are highly sensitive to criticisms

Dealing with low self-esteem

Dealing with low self-esteem is not a walk in the park. One has to be patient with his/herself and be intentional about building a healthy self-esteem from the scratch. Whilst one can employ the services of a specialist or therapist, there are some self care tips to take.
Low self-esteem can be overcome by:
• Challenging the negative beliefs you have about yourself. This is the first step. Face your fears head on. Look them in the eye. In a journal, note down your fears and their triggers. Then, counter them with positive statements.

• Building positive relationship. If you keep a circle of negative and critical people, you may have to cut off from them. To build a healthy self-esteem, you need optimistic people who care about your health.

•  Celebrate your wins. No matter how little you think they are, raise a toast to them. Then, take on bigger challenges. Never let imposter syndrome stop you from shining.

• Not comparing yourself to others. You must understand that everyone is unique and posses peculiar qualities. Accept yourself, flaws and all.

• Accepting compliments. Don’t brush them off like they are flatteries. A soft ‘thank you’ with a genuine smile will do the trick. Your achievements didn’t happen by chance. Someone put in lots of efforts and that’s you.

• Having fun. Crawl out of your hole. Come out of your shell. Socialize with world. Go on fun trips. Attend value-adding workshops. Network. Engage with people.

• Being assertive. Respectfully and honestly communicate your feelings and opinions to people. Also, do not feel ‘threatened’ when they tell you what they think about your opinions. Listen with an open heart, sieve the good ones out and trash the chaff.

• Staying true to yourself. Don’t be a wannabe. Put as large ‘No pressures please’ sign on your door. Take one step at a time. When you fail, don’t mourn. Dig up what led to the fail, find better ways to go about it. Grow steadily. Don’t be in a rush.

Further ways to build your self-esteem include: Taking self/personal development courses, get help from a certified therapist, read books, listen to podcasts on self development, belong to a health group that handle self-esteem cases. 
To sum it up, self-esteem is simply what you think about yourself and it will take consistent and intentional practice to build a healthy self-esteem. 

Igho-Uloho Divine

Igho-Uloho Divine is a writer and school teacher. She loves writing and sees it as a medium to share her thoughts, educate and inform. 
Her interests spans different areas including personal development, EdTech and content writing. 

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