Our self-esteem determines how we see everything in our lives; how we think about ourselves, how we view other people, how we feel about our successes and failures and how we deal in our relationships.
Self-esteem is a pair of sunglasses on your ‘psychic eyes’ which determines your view of the world. It gives meaning to everything that happens in your life. If your self-esteem is high, you will see your life as colorful, happy, enjoyable, exciting and adventurous. If your self-esteem is low, you will experience as if you are wearing the sunglasses of despair, pessimism, insecurity and challenges. You will feel severely handicapped to create and experience joy and fulfillment in your life.
When your self-image is detrimental to your wellbeing, when you identify yourself as incapable, unloving, and unworthy of success and happiness, you will experience enormous psychological pain and will constantly be at war with yourself by rejecting your physical and emotional needs.
“Self-esteem is a pre-requisite for living a balanced, happy, authentic and fulfilling life.”
When you compare yourself with others, it may give you the indication that you are not worthy enough because every person in one way or other is better than you. Does your self-esteem dependent on others? When we see someone who is better than us, most of us feel bad about themselves, may for fraction of a second. They think that they are not good enough.
If a person feels inadequate to face the challenges of life, if he lacks self-respect and confidence and feels unworthy of love & respect, we can recognize his low self-esteem no matter how many other qualities and skills he possesses.
Self-esteem plays an important role in developing our ability to take risks, learn new skills, become creative, take feedback constructively and dealing with others with fairness and respect.
Let us take a closer look at the influence of self-esteem on different aspects of our lives.
Constant Challenges: Whether bullying in schools, relationship woes at home, cut-throat competition in professional life, or personal tragedies, the need for self-respect, assertiveness, courage and integrity is paramount to face such life-altering situations.
When we have low self-esteem, our resilience to face life’s adversity is diminished. If people don’t feel competent enough to solve emotionally draining personal and professional challenges, they may use negative coping strategies such as excessive alcohol, drugs abuse or even harming themselves or others.
Mental Health Problems: Despite all the progress in scientific and social arenas, the mental health problems including depression, stress and anxiety are constantly on the rise. In certain incidents, they even lead to suicidal tendencies and result in unfortunate outcomes. People with low self-esteem are more likely to get into depression than people with high-self-esteem . The major reasons for all such problems are insecurity, unrealistic expectations from society, peer pressure and constant need to prove one’s worth to the world. These problems may seem arbitrary or imaginary but the emotional suffering that comes with them is real and horrifying. These emotional triggers could drive any person crazy in the absence of unconditional self-respect, belief is in his ability to think rationally and operate from self-confidence in handling such harsh circumstances of life.
Handling Criticism: In this era of social media and political correctness, we get lethal criticism for expressing our opinion that is non-conforming to a section of society. We are discouraged to speak our mind and express what we think is right and appropriate. Instead, we are pushed to accept the perspective of a community, country, organization, movement, or a party. If you do not possess the mental and emotional strength to deal with bullying, soul crushing criticism and toxic social situations, it becomes almost impossible to operate in an authentic way.
The lack of self-esteem leads to unhealthy competition. People with low self-esteem are more likely to ridicule, criticize or downgrade their colleagues. They highlight mistakes of others to portray themselves better in front of peers and superiors. Low self-esteem leads to low cooperation between employees because when they don’t feel competent and worthy enough to succeed, they will be at war with others to snatch acclaim, prestige and status. Attitude of win-loss is the hallmark of low self-esteem employees.
The lack of cooperation is major causality of this problem and everyone suffers as a consequence. Such people may temporarily win through clever tactics. However, they may not be able to find true happiness and fulfillment that comes with high self-esteem.
SUCCESS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Charles Dickens said:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
What Charles Dickens said 200 years ago is still applicable in 21st century. Today, we have unprecedented level of opportunities, choices and options. We have limitless possibilities to make our mark in the world but we also have huge challenges in this competitive environment. The role of self-esteem has become more important because it heavily influences our choices and actions. The bigger the challenges, the greater is the need for self-reliance, assertiveness, positive mental attitude. We need perseverance to succeed at any challenging task which is not possible without self-confidence and belief that we can create ideas and find solutions to overcome complex problems.
“Lack of self-esteem often leads to poor performance”
High self-esteem plays an important role in determining the level of success in education, job, business or any other worthwhile endeavor. It gives us the courage and confidence to pursue big goals. If we don’t feel worthy and don’t believe in our ability to learn new skills and solve complex problems, we will not be able to set and achieve any significant goal. And most importantly, we will not feel the motivation to make those goals reality.
ROLE OF SELF-ESTEEM IN RELATIONSHIPS
Our level of self-esteem has major influence on what kind of relationships we develop. We attract and feel comfortable with people who have the similar level of self-esteem as ours.
Let’s assume you are in a party where you don’t know anyone. There are a number of people you can meet and talk. Who would you approach? You would probably go and talk to a person who is similar to you. That similarity could be manifold; it may be in the form of appearance (dressing, height etc.), confidence level, assertiveness or self-expression. Besides these obvious factors, there are certain nuances of a person’s character which we unconsciously observe. It includes his sense of self-worth which we determine based on varying factors. You may probably go and approach a person whose confidence level and self-worth matches yours. That is true for romantic as well as other personal and professional relationships.
“The higher our self-esteem, the better we are in a position to form nourishing rather than toxic relationships”
Low self-esteem creates insecurity, self-doubt and fear of judgment which makes people avoid social interactions and hinder the development of deep nurturing relationships.
Lack of self-esteem leads to inflated ego that requires constant attention, praise and approval from others in order to feel worthy. The need to be right all the time dangerously impacts a person’s relationship with her partner, children, friends, colleagues, and other important people in her life. In the absence of qualities of genuineness and authenticity that come with healthy self-esteem, it is almost impossible to develop truly meaningful relationships.
ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOR
People with high self-esteem are more likely to treat other with respect, compassion and fairness because they don’t need to appear superior or prove anything to others. They do not perceive others as a threat to their self-worth. These people are authentic, courageous and optimistic. They don’t constantly complain, find faults or transfer blame on others; instead they take responsibility for their action, and make every possible effort to ameliorate the situation no matter how difficult the circumstances are.
We take care of the needs and wants of people we love and respect. We also take care of the things we like and value. It may be your smartphone, engagement ring or your car. You will do your best to keep your valuable item secure, clean and in good shape, especially when there is an emotional attachment to it. If someone does not consider himself valuable and worthy, he may not take care of himself. People with low self-esteem seldom fulfill their emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. They are less likely to do regular exercise, eat healthy, read books, develop new skills, work on their relationships, follow spiritual practices and avoid harmful activities & toxic substances. Self-esteem teaches us to be kind, loving and caring towards ourselves.
Self-esteem gives us the confidence that we are at the driving seat of our lives. We are not mere spectators instead we control our circumstances and our destiny. This sense of confidence in our abilities is necessary to make the most out of life.
EXPERIENCING THE JOY OF LIVING
A life of true joy and fulfillment is almost impossible to imagine without appropriate level of self-esteem. In its absence, people are more inclined to avoid pain than to experience joy.
A person, who is always self-critical, seeks approval from others, pessimistic about future, have negative relation with his past, lacks meaningful relationships and does not feel deserving of success and happiness, can’t experience the true joy of life. The attainment of worldly success and accumulation of material things is one thing; they give comfort and outside acceptance. But if a person is not at peace with who she is, then whole purpose of getting fame, wealth and power, or even achieving some arbitrary goals, does not mean anything.
The high self-esteem is not a luxury; it is a necessity to live a happy, healthy, peaceful, abundant and emotionally fulfilling life; a life that is worth living.