What affects self-esteem can vary from one person to another and is usually influenced by a number of different factors. It can be influenced by your upbringing, by the people around you, by your sex and age, by physical appearance, and by a variety of other factors. It is not uncommon for us to carry a certain amount of the burden of our self-image upon ourselves. There are many factors that can affect a person’s level of self-esteem. Below are some of the most common:
Childhood Experiences. Negative ways of talking and thinking are very common among children. You might have noticed that if your parents talked often about how mean and unimportant they were, or how nothing good ever happened to them, that you also felt like that. If this is something you have experienced, then you have a tendency to also feel like that now – even if it’s not really “you”.
Genetics. If you have a family history filled with someone who had a low self-esteem, then chances are that you are also going to get a low self-esteem. If this is the case, then it’s important to find out what happened to your parents to cause you to have this problem; perhaps they talked too much about their feelings, or they got too much self-help material which caused them to develop a negative self-talk, or they did not get enough support from friends or family.
Physical Appearance. This can affect self-esteem in two ways: either it will make you more likely to develop a positive self-image (and a positive physical appearance), or it can cause you to feel less self-confident because you are not attractive enough to feel confident. Women are twice as likely as men to be self-conscious about their appearance, and this can cause them to develop lower self-esteem. Physical appearance affects self-esteem not only by how people perceive your body but also by specific domains such as your hair length, skin tone, height, and body proportions. It is not just your body that affects your self-image, however; your appearance is also influenced by other domain areas such as your appearance in the mirror, your interactions with other people, and your level of control over your environment.
Social Support. How friendly and how open you are with other people can affect self-esteem. People who are more sociable and well-adjusted than others are happier and healthier, and they live longer. The “glass is full” theory applies here – those of us with higher social support tend to get better treatment and to do better at school. What affects self-esteem specifically varies from person to person – some people get very easily upset at even the smallest thing, while others enjoy high levels of social support. The effects of social support also vary between generations, from children who are deeply involved in their communities at school to adults who have come through the war zones and have seen war trauma.
Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence. Self-esteem and self-confidence are closely linked. A healthy level of both are important in order to feel good about yourself. What affects self-esteem specifically is how strongly you believe in your abilities and your talents. If you are a confident person, then you are likely to be a high self-esteem person, but if you are unsure of yourself, then you are likely to have low self-esteem.
Maturity Principle. One of the biggest reasons why some people are not able to reach their potential or are unable to achieve success in the same field as others is because of the way they perceive themselves. High self-esteem is directly linked to maturity, and the higher your self-esteem, the higher your maturity. That is why it has been suggested that being more mature can help improve self-esteem. This new research is still very much in the research stages and much more study is needed to determine if this works.
What affects self-esteem depends on the perspective of the person. Everyone is different and what affects self-esteem for one person may not affect self-esteem for another. High self-esteem however is essential for a successful life.