Ever heard of the age old saying – the greatest restriction to your success is you? Yes, it is true. One of the major reasons why we are unable to move forward in life or overcome our problems and difficulties is we ourselves. Either we make too many excuses to ourselves or we fail to gather enough will, grit, determination and courage to work hard. This has a direct relation with our self – confidence, our self – esteem. Self – esteem is something that needs to be built up and nurtured from a young age. A low self-esteem could lead to one feeling inferior or be a sign of a dormant/over – powering inferiority complex.
Self – esteem usually means how one sees or treats one’s self. If one holds oneself in high regard, one has a high self – esteem and if it is one has a low opinion of oneself, then that one suffers from a low self – esteem. Low self – esteem can lead to a variety of psychological problems including depression. Hence, it is crucial that one’s self – esteem is built up from a young age. For example, if you tell a child when it is extremely young that he/she looks beautiful the way he/she is; the child will grow up to a confident teenager and adult. Although, nurturing a child’s self – esteem should be done by parent, various socio – cultural factors too are responsible for low self – esteem in anyone. Also, high self – esteem should not be confused with narcissism. A narcissist only thinks about himself/herself and disregards other people; whereas someone with high self – esteem will simply not let himself/herself feel down or get upset because of others. He/she won’t disregard others; he/she will only not disregard the self either.
So what are the differences between a person with a high self – esteem and a low self – esteem? A person with a healthy level of self – esteem usually has most of these qualities:
- The person has firm principles and does not mind opposition but will modify them with experience. They also trust their own judgment and do not fear others of feel guilty if their opinions are not accepted.
- They usually live in the present. They do not over – think about the past and do not worry about the future more than necessary.
- Can solve problems by themselves, are not usually dependent but do not hesitate to ask help or help others when the time comes.
- Do not feel inferior or superior to others. Respect other person’s opinions, financial status etc.
- Value their part in a relationship and are not intimidated easily.
- Very social and have good relationships with others. Have a wide range of interest in activities.
- Sensitive to feeling and needs of others.
- Are able to voice discontent without feeling inferior. Have great belief in themselves.
Those with a low level of self-esteem are generally:
- Self – critical and dissatisfied with themselves.
- Sensitive to criticism and have a fear of being attacked. They usually tend to be resentful against critics.
- Very indecisive and have a constant fear of making mistakes. Constantly depending on others to lead or make a decision.
- Want to please everyone.
- An unrealistic sense of perfectionism. Failure of which leads to constant self-blaming and loathing.
- Exaggeration of problems of the past with a sense of guilt (If only I had…). Tend to over – think.
- Get hostile and defensive without any cause.
- Pessimistic and a negative outlook towards everything.
- Feelings of jealousy towards someone whom they think are better off than them.
- Get miserable when problems occur. Perceive them as permanent failure with no way out.
The points given under low self – esteem are perhaps enough to make you realize why a healthy level of self – esteem is needed. It affects our day to life, our activities, and our relationships. Young teenagers who feel that they are too thin, too fat, or not fitting to the norms of the social circle tend to become suicidal or violent, injuring not only themselves but also others. So how should one increase their self – esteem?
- Know and realize that nobody is perfect. Even the most beautiful woman will have problems. Even the richest man is not the happiest.
- Evaluate yourself. Note down what you think are negative traits and then write the positive ones down too. In the case of most people the list of negative traits seems longer. Go through them. Points like ‘I am too fat’; ‘I am not very rich’ can be worked on. All it requires is will. If you really are overweight, what is stopping you from working out? If you feel you don’t do well financially, learn the art of investing and more importantly that of saving. Cut down on your expenses.
- Stop being so negative about yourself. It is good not to blame others for your problems and take responsibility. But that does not mean you keep brooding and let it affect your whole life.
- Stop over – thinking. Yes, this exists. When one thinks too much, you create problems in your head which did not exist in the first place. Also, what you think constantly about has already happened. You cannot change the past, but you can change the future. Also, stop blaming it on luck. Your luck is as good as you want it to be.
- Reduce the length of your idle time. There is always something to do. Clean your house. Clean your car. Start going for the zumba class you had signed up for. Learn a new instrument. Spend more time with your kids. But please, do not while away your time.
- Have realistic goals.
- Be proud of yourself and what you have achieved. Be thankful of what you are and where you are. You have come a long way. Indulge a little.
Lastly, you are beautiful the way you are. Let no one tell you otherwise.