The Problem of Low Self-esteem


by Jayaram V

Self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself and the way you treat yourself. It is how you define yourself and hold yourself in your esteem. It is not only how you see yourself but also how you think others see you.

Your well being, inner happiness, attitude, thinking, actions, expectations, relationships, failures, accomplishments, social skills, courage and confidence depend on your self-esteem. It influences the way you respond to your life's challenges, other people's opinions and your own inner critic, who keeps nagging you constantly.

Your Inner Critic
In their book, Self-Esteem, authors Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning suggested that low self-esteem is caused by self-criticism arising from "the negative inner voice that attacks and judges you," constantly. Psychologist Eugene Sagan called it the Pathological Critic. According to the authors, "Everyone has a critical inner voice. But people with low self-esteem tend to have more vicious and pathological critic," who blames when things go wrong and "beats you up for the smallest mistakes." The inner critic keeps a record of all your failures and lapses, while he ignores your achievements and strengths, and sets standards of perfection and excellence for you to guide your actions and your life. Whenever you fall short of those expectations, your critic keeps reminding you of what a fraud and failure you are all your life and why you do not deserve any sympathy or appreciation. The inner critic is formed during your childhood when you were vulnerable to parental and peer influences. By becoming an integral part of your consciousness, he keeps influencing your thinking and actions, setting "incredibly high standards." Whenever you listen to your inner critic, you reinforce him and allow him to influence your thinking and actions. The only way you can deal with him by is by "unmasking his purpose" and disarming him, disputing his judgment and talking back. Jayaram V

You may get away from unpleasant friends and relationships, stay away from threatening or disturbing situations, but cannot escape from yourself and your inseparable inner critic. People with low self-esteem usually tend to show some of the following behavioral patterns.

They develop low expectation about themselves.

They believe they do not deserve better life.

They are quick to blame themselves.

They avoid taking risks.

They suffer from fear of failure and fear of rejection.

They seek the approval of others.

They give more weight to the opinion of others.

They lack true leadership qualities.

They become overly defensive in leadership positions.

They suffer from bouts of self-doubt, anxiety and stress.

They enter into unhappy and unequal relationships.

They react emotionally rather than rationally in difficult and challenging situations.

They hesitate to express themselves honestly in the company of others.

They rarely live in the present.

They have a problem saying 'no' to others.

They have a problem accepting 'no' from others.

They suffer frequent bouts of self-doubt.

They adjust to low pay and unhappy work situations.

They are their own worst enemies, because they sabotage their success and rarely stay at the top.

They minimize their successes and focus on their failures.

Self-esteem is a product of experience. Very early in your life, you form an opinion about yourself, which stays with you for the rest of your life. Unless you bring a change in your thinking and attitude, it remains in your consciousness and influences the course of your life. If a child's self-confidence is constantly eroded through mindless criticism, ill treatment and unjustified comparison with others, sooner or later the child would suffer from low self-esteem. If parents discriminate among their children, it would cause heavy loss of self-esteem among the least favored.

A person's self-esteem may fluctuate from time to time, depending upon circumstances. People who migrate to other countries either as refugees or in search of livelihood, people who live as minorities in their own countries suffering from social disabilities and discrimination, people who are deprived of their jobs or income or status by circumstances, may suffer from temporary loss of self-esteem. So is the case with people who go through a bad marriage or an unhappy divorce. Unless a person is equipped with optimism and resilience, repeated failures and setbacks will erode his or her self-esteem greatly.

Basic honesty and unconditional self acceptance are the keys to a healthy self image. But for someone who has been tormented for years by self-doubt and nagging poor self-image, these blessings would not come easily. It has to begin with a brutally honest self-evaluation, followed by a program of action that needs to be implemented with total commitment. The following are some of the ways to deal with your problem of low self-esteem.

Source: Reproduced partially from the article, "Becoming Aware of Yourself" from the book Think Success by Jayaram V. You may purchase this book from our online store

Suggestions for Further Reading

About Think Success: In 44 well written articles presented in this books, you are introduced to a treasure trove of transformational wisdom. By following the suggestions given in this book, you can achieve success and happiness and live. It is written by Jayaram V, author of several books and hundreds of essays about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Spirituality and Self-help. This book is currently available at our Online Store (for residents of USA, Canada, UK and some other countries only).

Translate the Page

Search Hinduwebsite

Follow Us