What is Self-Esteem?
Our self-esteem develops and
evolves throughout our lives as we build an image of
ourselves through our experiences with different people and
activities. Experiences during our childhood play a
particularly large role in the shaping of our basic
self-esteem. When we were growing up, our successes (and
failures) and how we were treated by the members of our
immediate family, by our teachers, coaches, religious
authorities, and by our peers, all contributed to the
creation of our basic self-esteem.
Self-esteem is largely
developed during childhood.
experiences that lead to healthy self-esteem
- being spoken
attention and hugs
success in sports or school
experiences that lead to low self-esteem include-
- being yelled
at, or beaten
ignored, ridiculed or teased
expected to be "perfect" all the time
failures in sports or school
People with low
self-esteem were often given messages that failed
experiences (losing a game, getting a poor grade,
etc.) were failures of their whole self.
Our past experiences, even
the things we don't usually think about, are all alive and
active in our daily life in the form of an Inner Voice.
Although most people do not "hear" this voice in the same
way they would a spoken one, in many ways it acts in a
similar way, constantly repeating those original messages to
For people with healthy
self-esteem the messages of the inner voice are positive and
reassuring. For people with low self-esteem, the inner voice
becomes a harsh inner critic, constantly criticizing,
punishing, and belittling their accomplishments.
Consequences of Low
Low self-esteem can have
It can create anxiety,
stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for
It can cause problems
with friendships and relationships.
It can seriously impair
academic and job performance.
It can lead to
underachievement and increased vulnerability to drug and
Worst of all, these negative
consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image
and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and
lower self-esteem and increasingly non-productive or even
actively self-destructive behavior.