What is Self-Esteem?

What is Self-Esteem?
August 7, 2021 1 Comment Mental health emmahjoy

Many people go on and on about self-esteem and maybe you are wondering what it actually means. Self-esteem when simply put refers to an individual’s opinion about themselves and the abilities they have. Therefore, people can have high self esteem or low self-esteem. Self-esteem in an individual is a result of factors in play and thus, makes a standard measure of how high or low one can get.

This post is a discussion of the background, the two categories of self esteem, how to improve from low self-esteem to high self-esteem, how to measure your self-esteem and lastly, activities that you can engage in that helps in boosting self-esteem.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


Self-esteem is an important aspect of every individual’s life. It influences the choices an individual makes and general life decisions. It is the enabler to achieving full life potential. The psychologist Abraham Maslow, he lists a number of things that enables an individual reach their full potential. The most basic of them is the physical needs whereas self-actualization becomes the epitome. The list names Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which encompasses “Esteem needs” as the fourth need in the hierarchy.

The hierarchy of needs according to Abraham Maslow is defined by the factors that make self-esteem as confidence, respect, achievement(prestige and fame), and recognition.

What makes self-esteem an important subject is how it impacts our daily life activities. According to a study in Quebec, bullying and victimization resulted in low self-esteem and psychological issues (Cénat et al.,2014). Children suffering from obesity or overweight issues were also found to be battling low self-esteem (McGee & Williams, 2000). Whereas in adults, low self-esteem was found in their ability to have successful careers, better health, and better lifestyle. Therefore concluding that self-esteem is a crucial component towards achieving our full life potential.

Factors Defining Self-Esteem

  • Social Life.
  • Personality & Identity.
  • Self comparison
  • An individuals Age.
  • Security & sense of belonging

Self-Esteem Assessment Tools

The question I encounter most of the time is that, how can I measure my self-esteem? It is possible to measure your self-esteem. Psychologists in their research work, have come up with tools that individuals can use to measure their self-esteem levels. In this blog post, I would use one of the tools developed by Morris Rosenberg in the middle 1960s.

The tool is named Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). The tool can be used across all age ranges that is children, adolescents, and adults. The tool tries to define self-esteem from two angles. The global perspective and the specific self-esteem perspective. The scale uses the self-report scale as data for analysis. Here is a PDF that can help you take the necessary steps.

High Self-Esteem

Individuals with high self-esteem tend to think highly about themselves. They take problems as challenges towards their abilities and have the confidence that they can solve them Research has shown that there are characteristics that can define high self-esteem. People with high self-esteem are often deemed as confident. They are the kind of people who are not afraid to stand and voice their opinions, take criticisms positively, acknowledge when they make errors, and thus, be open to feedback. More examples of high Self-Esteem are listed below.

Examples of High Self Esteem Traits

  • They are individuals who score high on self awareness
  • They perceive the world in its real form.
  • They have thriving relationships
  • They are purpose driven and make real changes around them
  • They are better at decision making and are rarely manipulated
  • Examples of Low self-Esteem
  • They know their value hence, they appreciate themselves nd those around them

Low self-Esteem

People with low self-esteem unlike others have a negative approach to life. They are mostly pessimistic and critical of others. People with low self-esteem are always doubting their capabilities whether they could do something successfully or not. Research has proved that low self-esteem is not a trait that an individual is born with, however, it is acquired.

Therefore, low Self-esteem is linked to several causes such as

  1. Negative experiences growing up like punishment and abuse.
  2. Being different from siblings or agemates.
  3. Not being able to achieve success like other people around you.
  4. Inadequate reassurance from people close to you.

Examples of Low Self-Esteem Traits

  • Easily manipulated
  • Often question their abilities
  • They have a negative view towards life
  • They are often criticizing other people
  • They fear taking risks
  • They find difficulty in making decisions and struggle with saying “No”

How to Improve on your Self-Esteem

  1. Have realistic expectations. Set goals that are achievable to you as an individual not as compared to someone else. This way you can measure your success and ability by each milestone you accomplish.
  2. Stop negative comparisons. You might end up feeling that you are not good enough because other people are more successful than you and that is not always the case.
  3. Challenge your negative beliefs. Motivate yourself everyday that you can do better. Find the positive things you have done in the past and reinforce them.
  4. Don’t water down your achievements. Most people tend to overlook achievements because it looks so small. No, achievements are success levels no matter how small. Pat yourself on the back and see how positivity would keep you going.
  5. Have a clear definition of what success is for you. Success should not be a comparison to other peoples abilities.
  6. Accept failure as part of development. Let no failure keep you down feeling worthless. Remember that you just found out another way of not doing it and keep going.

Activities to Boost your Self-Esteem

  • Affirmations. They work like a daily reassurance of your abilities. It sets the pace for what we can do and get better at. It helps build confidence in oneself and sets room for one to perceive things in a positive light.
  • Emulate your role models. You become a better individual considering the people on whose shadow you walk on.
  • Set goals. Goals serve as a measure of accomplishments. It allows you a chance to praise yourself rather than beat yourself for feeling like a failure.
  • Listen to self development podcasts and videos. As a routine, what you feed the mind has a great impact on your daily life practice.
  • Read books that lift you up. I know it might not seem as much but there are books on self development that reinforce positive thinking and behaviors that could set you back on the right foot.
  • Take therapy if necessary. People often hold stereotypes to going for counselling. However, in a case like this, I would recommend counselling if an individual feels they cannot cope on their own. Counselling helps the individual to critically analyze where their behavioral issues stem from. It also helps them restructure their thoughts from the negative mindset to positive approaches of life.
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    This is helpful and enlightening.Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.


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