The way I approach the topic of self-esteem is from a perspective influenced by psychology (especially cognitive behavioral and humanistic theories), personal experience, and my Christian faith.
I believe that a healthy level of self-esteem is essential to have because it has such an influence on the behavior we have, the emotions we experience, and the choices we make. It influences our thoughts and beliefs both about ourselves and others. Low self-esteem involves thoughts that devalue the self. If one does not feel capable and competent, they may not take on certain tasks or situations, which may limit them from taking healthy risks and exploring opportunities. In this way, it can be said that the thoughts those with low self-esteem have may be self-defeating and may create a self-fulfilling prophesy in which one is so afraid that they are not capable of accomplishing things that this belief paralyzes them in such a way that they do not accomplish things because of their self-limiting belief rather than due to an actual lack of ability. In a way, how we see ourselves can have as much of an impact on our success as our actual ability to succeed.
Low self-esteem is associated with a number of mental illnesses including depression , anxiety, and ADHD. This is not to say that low self-esteem necessarily causes these conditions, but it is correlated with them and makes these conditions more difficult to deal with.
So how does one develop healthy self-esteem? Much of this is related to the fundamental beliefs we have and entertain about ourselves and people in general. If we take a perspective that is either humanistic or is Christian and Biblically-based, this will help us have a strong sense of self-esteem. A humanistic perspective proposes that we as humans are intrinsically good and have a propensity toward positive growth. A Christian, Biblically-based perspective asserts that we are not intrinsically good but due to who created us and what he did for us-die on a cross to reconcile us-we are all wonderfully made, amazingly loved, and all who believe in what he did are also made righteous and whole. I am of the latter perspective personally.
It is not enough to intellectually hold on to these beliefs. We must continuely learn what our belief system says about us and must practice meditating on and recalling these things. We must strive to get these beliefs to go from head knowledge to heart understanding.
Also, it is crucial that we surround ourselves with like-minded and encouraging people. There are times when as an individual, one will become discouraged and unable to be objective. This is when it is of the utmost importance to have people to talk with who will be uplifting and speak truth, that will encourage you in your beliefs, that will help boost your self-esteem again.
As a Christian and a counselor, I want to leave you with the following words of encouragement :
You are loved. If by no one else, then at least by God. If you are alive and breathing, there is still a plan and purpose for your life, regardless of whether or not you can see it or feel it. There is no one else who has the exact same story as you and no one else who offers in the exact same combination what you have to offer.
For so long, I did not see my own value and I am very human in that some days it is still a struggle. However, the permanent reminder I have inked into my skin sums up beautifully the truth of who I am and the truth of who we all are-“Stay strong; You are brave and wonderfully made”.