Definition of self-esteem

Definition of self-esteem

Definition of self-esteem

Self-esteem is the concept we have of our worth, and it is based on all the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences that we have gathered about ourselves during our lives; we think we are intelligent or less competent, we like ourselves, or not.

The thousands of impressions, evaluations, and experiences thus gathered come together in a positive feeling towards ourselves or, on the contrary, in an uncomfortable feeling of not being what we expected. The concept that we have of ourselves is not inherited but learned from around us through the assessment we make of our behavior and the assimilation and internalization of the opinion of others regarding us. The importance of self-esteem lies in the fact that it drives us to act, move on, and motivate us to pursue our goals.

Self-esteem will never depend on what you have, what you know, or what you are; it will always depend on personal acceptance.

Self-esteem evolves as we live new experiences. Since we were children, we have been building the concept of ourselves as we grow up; an idea is formed of who we are if we like it or not if we are accepted. The child will gradually create expectations about his possibilities. He will either feel good about himself or, on the contrary, be disgusted with what he does.

Thus, it is at the earliest age when the concept of oneself, the emotion, and the feeling towards our person are molded, and, although this is not entirely unchangeable, it is in this phase when we are creating a lasting foundation over time. The child here compares his authentic self with his ideal self and judges himself by how he meets the social patterns and expectations he has formed of himself and how well he performs.

The events that have the most significant influence are usually those that marked our childhood, such as how our parents, teachers, or friends treated us.

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The main characteristic of self-esteem is that it is NOT innate; it is formed, developed, and modified with experience and throughout our lives. Therefore it is highly influenced by our context.

In this way, the person will develop high and healthy self-esteem or, on the contrary, low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the generally positive assessment of oneself. For psychology, it is the emotional opinion individuals have of themselves and overcomes rationalization and logic in its causes.

In other words, self-esteem is a feeling that values ​​our set of bodily, mental, and spiritual traits that make up the personality. This feeling can change over time: children begin to form how other people see them from the age of five or six.

Those who have good self-esteem value themselves positively.
Self-esteem in psychotherapy and psychopedagogy

Maintaining good self-esteem is essential in psychotherapy since it is usually a recurring symptom in different behavioral problems. For this reason, some psychologists define self-esteem as the body’s function that allows self-protection and personal development since weaknesses in self-esteem affect health, social relationships, and productivity.

The concept of self-esteem is critical in the field of educational psychology. This discipline considers self-esteem as the cause of constructive attitudes in individuals and not its consequence. This means that if a student has good self-esteem, then she can achieve good academic results.

Self-esteem is also usually a value analyzed from self-help, with thousands of books teach how to protect and encourage it. However, there are sectors of psychology that believe that self-help can be harmful to the individual since it promotes a narcissistic profile that affects social relationships.
The different types of self-esteem that exist

But is there only one type of self-esteem? Or more than one? We can speak of two significant classifications of self-esteem: the one that classifies it according to a criterion of stability and valence (positive or negative, or high or low) and the one that classifies it according to its facets.

Let’s look at both types of self-esteem classifications:
+ According to its stability and valence
– High and stable self-esteem

When we enjoy high and stable self-esteem, we feel confident about ourselves, and our actions reflect this confidence. Thus, we could say that it is positive to have this type of self-esteem because external events influence it very little (since it is solid and stable by itself). It is self-esteem that, in many cases, has had to be worked on (for example, working on ourselves, getting to know ourselves and taking care of ourselves, going to therapy, etc.).

As a positive aspect of this type of self-esteem, those who have it are people with a certain ease to defend their point of view without fear of what they will say or rejection.
– High and unstable self-esteem

Another type of self-esteem is high and unstable, or what we can also call average self-esteem. It is usually high (or positive) self-esteem, but that does not remain constant at those levels. Thus, external circumstances can easily alter this type of self-esteem.

In general, people with this self-esteem respond with a critical attitude towards failure since they perceive it as a threat. They defend their point of view but do not accept that of others. In addition, this instability of which we spoke leads the subject to worry about maintaining stable self-esteem, which makes, on many occasions, try to preserve it “at any cost.”
– Low and stable self-esteem

Self-esteem can also be low or negative. In these cases, we are talking about people with a lot of personal insecurity, to whom criticism or rejection can make them “wobble” that little security they have left.

On the other hand, their low self-esteem is stable over time, so they have a hard time trusting themselves, committing to others, trying new things, taking risks, etc. In other words, their low self-esteem almost always stays that way.

It is a prevalent type of self-esteem in people with a tendency to depression. People also tend to have a defeatist mentality and do not usually perceive their achievements (as is the case with the so-called “impostor syndrome”).

– Low and unstable self-esteem

It is perhaps the most “chaotic” self-esteem of all because the person is insecure with himself, he does not believe in it, but sometimes he has “highs” of self-esteem (which do not usually last long). They are usually susceptible people who are pretty influenced by external events.

For example, in the face of success, your self-esteem rises, but the euphoria ends quickly, and then the low levels of self-esteem return.

In this sense, the instability they present can also appear in other facets of their life, and above all, in their emotional well-being. This type of self-esteem is typical of people.
Nas with borderline personality disorder (BPD), for example. Also, in selfish people, although they seem to have high self-esteem, the reality is that their narcissistic traits are often a “mask” to cover their extraordinary lack of self-esteem.