Origin, causes and consequences of low self-esteem
With the term Self-Esteem, we mean the internal perception that each of us has regarding our own value and sense of competence.
Solid self-esteem allows us to perceive ourselves as deserving, pleasant and capable people, despite the mistakes, failures or criticisms that we may encounter in the course of our life. On the contrary, too weak self-esteem depends excessively on consensus and evaluations coming from outside.
Typically, people with low self-esteem:
- they are convinced that they are worth little or nothing, of not being particularly gifted or capable, of not being able to equal the others;
- they are prone to blame and harsh criticism. They minimize or disqualify the correct things they do by focusing on their mistakes;
- they often experience emotions of guilt, shame, frustration, anxiety;
- they may feel weak, not very energetic, easily fatigued, or in a constant state of tension.
Self-esteem develops from early childhood, from when we begin to perceive the expectations and judgments that others have about us. Feeling authentically and realistically appreciated by parents in their abilities as well as their physical characteristics is essential for developing good self-esteem. To consider ourselves valid and lovable people, in fact, we need to perceive that first our parents, our teachers, the other reference adults and our peers then, have a positive idea of us in mind, they have trust and appreciation for what we are and what we do.
When this does not happen, when rather we are frequently criticized and devalued by the people important to us during the course of our childhood and our adolescence, we can develop pathogenic beliefs that, knowingly or not, will lead us to feel unable, unattractive, unpleasant. or stupid: we will agree to those who unjustly did not know how to recognize our worth.
Similarly, we may belittle ourselves because we unconsciously believe that by recognizing our worth we could humiliate or hurt a beloved sibling or parent who has always felt dissatisfied with himself or has gone through various and burdensome failures.
Still, we could consider ourselves a nullity because we unconsciously believe that moving away from our family to fulfill ourselves can be unfair or make the people we love feel alone and abandoned.
So, for example, we might look for a job below our capacity; or we could experience with extreme anxiety every occasion in which we have to face a test; or, again, reacting with feelings of deep sadness and despair, shame or anger, whenever we encounter a failure or criticism.
Failures will cease to be a starting point; a vote or a criticism will cease to be advice or opinion: rather, it will become a proof of the truth of our fears, of our worthlessness, a proof in support of the unfair mistreatment we have suffered.
But we are not our mistakes, we are our desires. We are not what someone else may have wanted to reduce us to, we are what we aspire to.
But what can we do if we feel we have low self-esteem? How can we overcome unconscious pathogenic beliefs that do not allow us to love and appreciate ourselves as we deserve?
Contacting a psychologist could help you begin to love and appreciate yourself, to recognize your worth, to consider mistakes only as important starting points for growing and learning, defects as the precious stones of the beauty of your uniqueness, failures as life experiences that concern everyone and which does not necessarily depend on you, rejection as the point of view of a person who is obviously not for you (you deserve those who know how to appreciate and love you!), problem that does not concern you.