What affects self-esteem depends on what our parents, teachers, peers or anyone else tells us. But there is one common thread that all of us believe affect self-esteem. We are told from an early age what affects our self-image. All of us want to be confident and well liked. If we were fortunate enough to have parents who supported us in a positive way and gave us good advice, we had better start having positive thoughts about ourselves as well as our image.
But do these childhood experiences have any lasting effects on our self-esteem? As we grow up, negative self-talk and other types of behaviour create a lifelong pattern of low self-esteem. Some of us have parents who constantly talked us down, telling us we were stupid, lazy, useless, not likable, not attractive and so on. These beliefs affect us long after our childhood experiences have ended. We carry these beliefs around with us into adulthood and have a tough time gaining new positive experiences in life.
It’s true that we do need to learn to speak with confidence and express our opinions and feelings. But self-esteem should not depend just on what happens when we get older. The truth is that the patterns we develop in childhood carry through into adulthood and can hinder our growth into self-awareness and self-actualization. This is why new research into the causes of low self-esteem is finding that the roots of self-consciousness and low self-confidence actually originate from within. And these conditions can be overcome.
So what exactly does low self-esteem refer to? A good definition is ‘a state of mind in which you doubt your own ability to attain specific goals’. Low self-esteem also has a negative connotation, as it often suggests a lack of assertiveness and independence. People with low self-esteem are also generally low in achievement motivation and are less likely to take risks. However, there is good news here: if you understand what affects your self-esteem and overcome those challenges, you can improve your self-image and improve your self-beliefs to a very high degree.
One of the main factors that affects self-esteem is your physical appearance. If you believe that you are unattractive or don’t feel confident about your physical appearance, this will have an effect on your general self-esteem. Low self-esteem can also be caused by feelings of anxiety and stress related to your physical appearance. For example, if you are an African American woman, it is very unlikely that you would not be concerned about your physical appearance. However, if you have an image of yourself as a thinner, fair-skinned, Asian woman, you may be more anxious and stressed about how you appear to others.
One of the key factors that affect your level of general self-esteem is how much you accept yourself for who you are. New research has found that the extent to which people accept themselves depends on the domains of cognitive processing that they use. Specifically, people with higher levels of cognitive processing will be more accepting of themselves. Conversely, people who have lower levels of cognitive processing will have a greater acceptance of themselves and thus a lower self-esteem.
The other main factor that influences your level of self-esteem is your personality, which is also affected by your physical appearance. People with higher positive personality traits (e.g., being more outgoing and optimistic) will tend to be more accepting of themselves and therefore have higher self-esteem. On the other hand, people with lower positive traits (e.g., higher anxiety) will tend to have lower self-esteem because their self-image will be low.
In sum, your level of self-esteem is largely dependent on your cognitive and emotional functioning as well as your physical appearance. If you’ve grown physically, you may not have changed much from when you were younger. However, the changes that have occurred in your personality could be enough to affect your self-esteem. This is why it is important to practice some of the methods that were discussed in this article. They’re not magic, but they will help you change your behavior, increase your self-confidence, improve your skills, and so on.