What affects self-esteem? That is the question that many adults who have come to adulthood and are concerned about how they look often ask. They wonder what was or wasn’t done to build their self-esteem when they were a child. What effects did these events have on the development of their adult lives? What can we do today to reverse the effects that our childhood experiences had on our adult selves?
It is important to remember that what we think, feel or believe affects our physical well-being. It does not have to be true at all! In fact our physical sensations are a direct reflection of what is happening in our brain! Therefore our childhood experiences that shape our self-talk and our behaviors also have a direct effect on our brain function today. So it stands to reason that our childhood experiences that shape our self-talk also shape our future.
What affects self-esteem refers to how we perceive ourselves as we interact with others in our daily lives. It is how we see ourselves and our behavior in social interaction. It is also related to how we see ourselves in various situations, and we may try to manipulate our behavior and mannerisms to appear more confident and competent. One of the primary ways that this is manifested is through the use of negative self-talk and conforming to societal standards of “good self-esteem”. The way in which we talk to ourselves about our appearance, our accomplishments, our talents and skills, and also our shortcomings is a large part of the impact that our childhood experiences have on us today.
Self-esteem has been found to be related to the sense of accomplishment, motivation, personal power, and assertiveness and also relates to the sense of safety and control in our relationships. This is all good news. We all want to feel like we are important, capable, and that we have some control over our lives. That is what gets older, and what makes us strive to achieve more.
Now that we understand the relationship between childhood experiences and self-esteem, it is possible to take steps to change the patterns of thought that have gotten us into this situation. One way that this can be done is to become aware of the way we talk to ourselves when trying to evaluate our personal strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and interests. Research has shown that there are four main components of a childhood experience that can affect self-esteem: socialization, competence, parental support, and the mature principle of self-interest.
Childhood socialization is the process in which we are introduced to different social behaviors, norms, and expectations. These social behaviors and ideas become the fabric of our reality, so much so that if these patterns of thought do not change, our self-image and self-confidence will be negatively impacted. Children who are encouraged to do well socially are able to do well academically and in many other ways, but they often lack self-confidence. This is because they have not been taught how to think critically about their performance and in thinking critically, they can see that something they have achieved is actually a loss rather than an achievement.
Competence is related to self-esteem specifically, because competence is measured by an individual’s ability to perform a task correctly. When an individual displays competence on specific domains, they will have high self-esteem. For example, if a person is excellent at academic tasks, they will also have excellent self-esteem. But in order to excel at academic tasks, it is necessary to understand the subject matter, to be able to answer the questions students ask, and to demonstrate competence. Thus, being able to perform these domain tasks is necessary in order to excel at the task in hand.
So what affects self-esteem in the social setting? In particular, researchers have found that individuals who feel like they belong to a group, or social network, with others who share their expertise, not only feel better about themselves, but they also perform better at school. This is because they get help from others who can act as a support system, which gives them the motivation they need to try hard, to be successful, and to excel. If you need help boosting your self-esteem, talk to your family, your friends, your co-workers, and do your homework.