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Dipetik daripada Better Health Channel.
Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. People with healthy self-esteem like themselves and value their achievements. While everyone lacks confidence occasionally, people with low self-esteem feel unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time.
This can be remedied but it takes attention and daily practise to boost self-esteem. See your doctor for information, advice and referral if you’re having trouble improving your self-esteem or if low self-esteem is causing problems such as depression.
Characteristics of low self-esteem Typically, a person with low self-esteem:
*Is extremely critical of themselves
* Down plays or ignores their positive qualities
*Judges themselves to be inferior to their peers
* Uses negative words to describe themselves such as stupid, fat, ugly or unlovable
* Has discussions with themselves (this is called ‘self talk’) that are always negative, critical and self blaming
* Assumes that luck plays a large role in all their achievements and doesn’t take the credit for them
* Blames themselves when things go wrong instead of taking into account other things over which they have no control such as the actions of other people or economic forces
* Doesn’t believe a person who compliments them.
Low self-esteem and quality of life A low self-esteem can reduce the quality of a person’s life in many different ways, including:
* Negative feelings – the constant self-criticism can lead to persistent feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, shame or guilt.
* Relationship problems – for example they may tolerate all sorts of unreasonable behaviour from partners because they believe they must earn love and friendship, cannot be loved or are not loveable. Alternatively, a person with low self-esteem may feel angry and bully other people.
* Fear of trying – the person may doubt their abilities or worth and avoid challenges.
* Perfectionism – a person may push themselves and become an over-achiever to ‘atone’ for what they see as their inferiority.
* Fear of judgement – they may avoid activities that involve other people, like sports or social events, because they are afraid they will be negatively judged. The person feels self-conscious and stressed around others and constantly looks for ‘signs’ that people don’t like them.
* Low resilience – a person with low self-esteem finds it hard to cope with a challenging life event because they already believe themselves to be ‘hopeless’.
* Lack of self-care – the person may care so little that they neglect or abuse themselves: for example, drink too much alcohol.
* Self-harming behaviours – low self-esteem puts the person at increased risk of self-harm: for example, eating disorder, drug abuse or suicide.
Causes Some of the many causes of low self-esteem may include:
* Unhappy childhood where parents (or other significant people such as teachers) were extremely critical
* Poor academic performance in school resulting in a lack of confidence
* Ongoing stressful life event such as relationship breakdown or financial trouble
* Poor treatment from a partner, parent or carer: for example, being in an abusive relationship
* Ongoing medical problem such as chronic pain, serious illness or physical disability
* Mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
Seek help for underlying problems Chronic problems can be demoralising and lead to self-esteem issues. Seek professional advice for problems such as relationship breakdown, anxiety disorder or financial worries.
Self-esteem building Self-esteem is strongly related to how you view and react to the things that happen in your life. Suggestions include:
* Talk to yourself positively – treat yourself as you would your best friend. Be supportive, kind and understanding. Don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake.
* Challenge negative ‘self-talk’ – every time you criticise yourself, stop and look for objective evidence that the criticism is true. (If you feel you can’t be objective, then ask a trusted friend for their opinion.) You’ll realise that most of your negative self-talk is unfounded.
* Don’t compare yourself to others – recognise that everyone is different and that every human life has value in it’s own right. Make an effort to accept yourself, warts and all.
* Acknowledge the positive – for example, don’t brush off compliments, dismiss your achievements as ‘dumb luck’ or ignore your positive traits.
* Appreciate your special qualities – remind yourself of your good points every day. Write a list and refer to it often. (If you feel you can’t think of anything good about yourself, ask a trusted friend to help you write the list.)
* Forget the past – concentrate on living in the here-and-now rather than reliving old hurts and disappointments.
* Tell yourself a positive message everyday – buy a set of ‘inspirational cards’ and start each day reading out a new card and carrying the card’s message with you all day.
* Stop worrying – ‘worry’ is simply fretting about the future. Accept that you can’t see or change the future and try to keep your thoughts in the here-and-now.
* Have fun – schedule enjoyable events and activities into every week.
* Be assertive – communicate your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner.
* Practise the above suggestions every day – it takes effort and vigilance to replace unhelpful thoughts and behaviours with healthier versions. Give yourself time to establish the new habits. Keep a diary or journal to chart your progress.