The beliefs you have about yourself often appear to be statements of fact, although actually they’re really only opinions.
They are based on the experiences you’ve had in life, and the messages that these experiences have given you about the person you are.
If your experiences have been negative, your beliefs about yourself are likely to be negative too and otherwise. Crucial experiences that help to form our beliefs about ourselves often (although not always) occur early in life. What you saw, heard and experienced in childhood – in your family, in the wider community and at school – will have influenced the way you see yourself. Examples of early experiences that could lead to your thinking badly of yourself include:
Systematic punishment, neglect or abuse, failing to meet parental standards, failing to meet peer-group standards, being on the receiving end of other people’s stress or distress, belonging to a family or social group that other people are prejudiced towards, an absence of praise, warmth, affection or interest.
As we grow up we take the voices of people who were significant to us with us, we may criticize ourselves in their sharp tones, and make the same comparisons with other people that they did compare themselves with. Our experiences create a foundation for general conclusions about ourselves; judgments about ourselves as people, sometimes negative beliefs about yourself are caused by experiences later in life such as workplace bullying or intimidation, abusive relationships, persistent stress or hardship, or traumatic events.
Let me explain this with two words I believe are fundamental in understanding self esteem COMPETENCE and WORTHINESS.
Competence in this case means facing reality directly and making rational decisions. Decisions that are personally significant and life affirming and doesn’t compromise your integrity. Competence is grounded in performance and worthiness is grounded in values, particularly interpersonal values. Where your competence at completing tasks is balanced by the integrity and personal values you hold as you go about it, the lived status of one’s competence at dealing with the challenges of living in a worthy way over time.
Where Do You Belong?
Often we are unaware of which side we sway towards for our self esteem. That’s because it has been programmed into us since birth according to the collective values of our family, friends, and society. When we get older it feels completely normal to value either competence or worthiness according to that upbringing.
Your upbringing might have caused you to sway more towards success and achievement as you were constantly praised for excelling and that in turn made you feel good about yourself. So your competence may be where you mostly get your self esteem from.
Likewise, you might have been brought up to consider your family or friends or religion as the most important thing in the world, you feel good when you are actively working towards their betterment or you might have grown up thinking you are the most important person in the world so your self-worth is extremely high but you come across as arrogant and conceited! So your self esteem is directly linked to your worthiness as a person Or perhaps you have general low self-esteem caused by feeling inadequate in both groups for example, your identity is closely tied to your always doing a great job so that u can please your boss, partner, or authority figure.
When you do something that isn’t up to scratch it shatters your confidence and you feel worthless and rejected This is a double whammy that can quickly lead into high anxiety and depression.
The important point is which side do you rely on mostly to feel good about yourself? How do you react when your competence or worthiness is challenged? What hurts more – turning in a poor report (competence) or being rejected by others (worthiness)? They both may hurt, but you will generally bounce back from one quicker than the other.
Have a look at your life and try to figure out which side you sway to the most. Answer these questions and easily your self esteem level will begin to rise, yes, because you’ll will begin to take conscious efforts to effect d needed changes with integrity and in harmony with your values when dealing with life’s challenges.