There is a saying that there is no bigger enemy to a man than a man himself. This saying is fair for all genders though; indeed, no one can affect your life as much as you can do yourself—both in a positive or a negative way. All of us have at least once met people who would have nice jobs, pleasant appearances, fulfilled lives—but who are chronically displeased with themselves, would tend to criticize or underestimate themselves, or to seek and find flaws in whatever they do. Such people create obstacles in their own way—so one might say they are enemies of themselves; and the most common reason for such destructive behavior is low self-esteem.
What people think about themselves seems to be based on facts, and we have got used to thinking we can trust our visions of who we are—but in fact, these are nothing more than opinions, and these opinions can be wrong. Such opinions usually exist as statements, stationed in our subconscious and affecting the way people consciously think and act. When these opinions are positive (“I am good,” “I am worthwhile,” I am creative,” “I am loved and respected”) a person has more confidence in themselves, is less prone to stress and self-ostracism, and tends to deal with life complications better; however, if the set of subconscious opinions is negative, a person may experience various difficulties in their life—and the larger part of these difficulties they create for themselves (IFR).
Low self-esteem does not strike a person out of the blue. Reasons exist in a person’s past that lead to the formation of negative beliefs. Usually, low self-esteem has higher chances to develop in a person if he or she was punished systematically in their childhood; alienated from peers at school, misunderstood, or did not meet certain standards; was openly abused or neglected; were an object of someone’s else frustration and distress; was deprived of warmth and interest; belonged to an ostracized social group, and so on (Overcoming). The potential reasons are numerous, and foreseeing them all in the process of parenting is impossible; however, parents should do everything possible to minimize the risks. Other possible risk factors are illness or injury, culture, or religion, the way other people react to a person, and even mass media messages (Mayo Clinic).
So, how does one know if their self-esteem is low? There are certain patterns people with the regarded problem think and act. The whole list of how they manage to hurt themselves would probably be too long for an academic paper, but generally a person with low self-esteem tends to withdraw from social activities; feels constant anxiety, severe changes of mood, and shyness; feels like they fail to socialize—a situation of direct communication may cause stuttering, blushing, and so on. People with low self-esteem cannot be helped by giving them cheering compliments—they do not believe them, and fail to accept them, since they tend to focus only on his or her negative sides. Also, cases of eating disorders, orientation on the opinions of surrounding people, depression, and reluctance to do anything connected to socialization are more frequent among people with low self-esteem (self-confidence.co.uk).
Is there a way out? Yes, and it might be more obvious than what many people probably think. The trick is that people with low self-esteem are incredibly confident about themselves—in their worthlessness, to be exact. For some reason, they believe only their negative images of themselves are true, and tend to doubt any positive signals about their personalities. Therefore, one of the methods to deal with the problem might be to raise these people’s uncertainty: why should not they start doubting their negative affirmations as well? This might be the first step towards a turnaround: when a person treats his or her negative beliefs critically, it is easier for them to turn to a healthier self-image. Yet another way might be to quit trying to affect self-esteem directly, and find a bypass; since self-esteem is rather often affected by what we do, success in certain spheres of life might lead to a boost of self-esteem as a happy side-effect (self-confidence.co.uk).
The problems people with low self-esteem imagine exist mostly within their own heads, and have little to do with reality. Mostly developed as a result of traumatizing experiences in childhood, low self-esteem can prevent a person from engaging in collective environments, and enjoying social communications. However, if a person starts to evaluate their negative self-beliefs more critically, and focuses on real life activities, their self-esteem might turn to a brighter side.
“Understanding Low Self-Esteem.” Overcoming. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
“Self-esteem Check: Too Low or Just Right?” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
“Top Ten Facts about Low Self Esteem.” Confidence.co.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
Doe, John. “Low Self-Esteem.” IFR. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
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Writing an Expository Essay
Most people feel bad about themselves from time to time. Feelings of low self-esteem may be triggered by being treated poorly by someone else recently or in the past, or by a person's own judgments of him or herself. This is normal. However, low self-esteem is a constant companion for too many people, especially those who experience depression, anxiety, phobias, psychosis, delusional thinking, or who have an illness or a disability. If you are one of these people, you may go through life feeling bad about yourself needlessly. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying life, doing the things you want to do, and working toward personal goals.
You have a right to feel good about yourself. However, it can be very difficult to feel good about yourself when you are under the stress of having symptoms that are hard to manage, when you are dealing with a disability, when you are having a difficult time, or when others are treating you badly. At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem. For instance, you may begin feeling bad about yourself when someone insults you, you are under a lot of pressure at work, or you are having a difficult time getting along with someone in your family. Then you begin to give yourself negative self-talk, like "I'm no good." That may make you feel so bad about yourself that you do something to hurt yourself or someone else, such as getting drunk or yelling at your children. By using the ideas and activities in this booklet, you can avoid doing things that make you feel even worse and do those things that will make you feel better about yourself.
This document will give you ideas on things you can do to feel better about yourself - to raise your self-esteem. The ideas have come from people like yourself, people who realize they have low self-esteem and are working to improve it.
As you begin to use the methods in this booklet and other methods that you may think of to improve your self-esteem, you may notice that you have some feelings of resistance to positive feelings about yourself. This is normal. Don't let these feelings stop you from feeling good about yourself. They will diminish as you feel better and better about yourself. To help relieve these feelings, let your friends know what you are going through. Have a good cry if you can. Do things to relax, such as meditating or taking a nice warm bath.
As you read this booklet and work on the exercises, keep the following statement in mind:
"I am a very special, unique, and valuable person. I deserve to feel good about myself."
Sourced from Building Self-esteem: A Self-Help Guide, SAMHSA booklet SMA-3715