What affects self-esteem can be attributed to many factors, both past and present. We have already mentioned some of the more obvious things that affect self-esteem, which are generally the result of either your childhood experiences or your current circumstances. However there are also several factors that we may not be quite as aware of. Below I’ll discuss a few of the lesser known factors that affect self-esteem.
Childhood experiences and your own childhood experiences can have an effect on how you feel about yourself. If your parents or other loved ones expressed negative words about you then you may have a low self-esteem. Likewise if you were belittled or criticized by teachers in your childhood you may also have a low self-esteem. Your childhood experiences and how you were treated by others has a lot to do with your current feelings towards yourself.
The maturity principle states that as you get older, the world becomes more serious. Therefore as you get older, it is harder to be immature. In this new research into the causes of low self-esteem seem to be because of the external environment as well as internal factors. It seems that our internal world has a lot to do with our level of self-esteem, whilst our external environment plays a part in how we perceive ourselves in the public eye.
Childhood experiences and the way people treat you in the public eye have a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, and how other people perceive you. A person who is naturally high self-esteem but is constantly belittled and criticized by others will eventually turn around and get a low self-image. On the other hand, if you had a high self-image but were constantly teased or belittled then you would eventually become more confident and less insecure. The difference between the two scenarios is your perceptions of yourself.
The new research looked at two different domains of self-esteem, namely, overall self-esteem and specific domains that are associated with age and physical appearance. Overall self-esteem is basically an attitude of worth towards yourself. This is associated with how worthy you consider yourself to be. In this new research into the links between the two domains were very strong. People who were higher in overall self-esteem were more likely to also be high in social confidence and self-esteem. Those who were high in social confidence and self-esteem also had higher levels of physical appearance which was also a significant correlation.
So, what affects self-esteem? It is not really clear from this research. However, the low self-esteem seems to be caused by feelings of worthlessness, so this may explain why people with high self-esteem have a tendency to have high levels of depression. However, the authors of this study didn’t say that if a person has a high self-esteem then they don’t have to worry about feeling worthless. They said that the feelings of worthlessness needn’t prevent them from having a healthy self-esteem.
Another domain of self-esteem that is being discussed is self-confidence. Those with a high self-esteem are also likely to have high self-confidence. To test this out a new study found that people who are shy do have high self-confidence; however the link between shyness and self-confidence was only insignificant. People who are confident are not necessarily shy. Again, it may be that shyness causes low self-confidence or vice versa.
One domain of self-esteem that has been explored in great detail is how early experiences affect self-esteem. There is a long list of things that can affect self-esteem from our childhood experiences. However, there is only one well-known example of a childhood experience that directly leads to high self-esteem and that is the experience of success. So, our sense of self-worth is more than likely shaped by our childhood experiences.