What affects self-esteem refers to the question how one sees himself or herself. It is a statement that can be made about anyone, at any time in life. However, it is especially relevant to those who have had different childhood experiences and/or are dealing with problems such as abuse. For example, the abuse of a sibling can seriously affect a child’s self-image. However, an abused child is not necessarily doomed to a low self-esteem; rather, there are ways for them to improve this very low self-image.
Two categories of what affects self-esteem are its affect on an individual’s behavior and its affect on his or her psychological and social environment. The first category reflects external factors such as the quality of relationships that a person has and how this relates to an individual’s competence and/or abilities. The second category is internal factors such as self-image schemas and cognitive schemas. These relate to an individual’s internal states and are therefore affected by outside forces such as culture and technology. In addition, recent research has revealed that some of the ways that children’s behaviors are modified by parents also play a role in their overall self-esteem.
What affects self-esteem relates to the extent to which that self-esteem is dependent on the situation that it finds itself in. For example, the good self-esteem refers to those who believe that they are capable of doing whatever it is that they set their minds to and who do not let minor setbacks or other circumstances bring them down. In contrast, the bad self-esteem refers to those who think that nothing is going to bring them down and who allow minor setbacks or circumstances to bring them down. In both cases, low self-esteem is related to having a low confidence level and being a perfectionist.
What affects self-esteem is also related to changes that occur in childhood experiences. For example, if a child’s parents talk negatively about them to the child as a child, that negativity will manifest itself later in the child’s self-talk and self-esteem. This negativity comes from the fear that others will judge them or laugh at them. In turn, this fear feeds into the negative behavior patterns that are manifested later in life. Similarly, if a child’s parents express optimism about their son’s ability to achieve great things or talk incessantly about him while he is growing up, those positive experiences will be carried over into adulthood and will affect their self-esteem to a significant degree.
What affects self-esteem is also related to changes in one’s general self-image. For example, if the teen dresses in only a little girl’s birthday dress when he is a young child, he will believe himself to be a pretty boy who is confident in his appearance and who likes to have his own way. That way, he will internalize those beliefs and, through that belief, will apply them to other situations. At the same time, if the teen dresses in a mother’s or father’s uniform when he is young, he will internalize those feelings of inferiority and will want to emulate those behaviors. Eventually, these feelings become so ingrained that they become deeply rooted in his psyche. They cause him to believe that he is not satisfying the standard of beauty that society dictates.
What affects self-esteem later in life is related to changes in one’s environments. If, for example, a person’s home life becomes very involved with domestic violence, he may become very insecure and have a very low self-image. It takes a major change in his environment to trigger this change in his self-image. If, on the other hand, he spends most of his early years in an environment where domestic violence is not an issue, then the early years of his development do not have time to build a significant foundation of general self-esteem. So, it goes without saying that he will also lack self-confidence, regardless of what he does in his personal life.
The third area in which what affects self-esteem when you get older is related to your physical appearance. Even as a preteen, most people are aware that physical appearance has a significant effect on people’s perceptions of that person. For that reason, when we are younger, we often try to improve our physical appearance in order to make us more attractive to other people. However, once we get older, we begin to lose interest in trying to make ourselves look better. So, the physical appearance self-esteem concept is at its weakest level when we are physically mature.
In summary, the three most common changes that take place in how we think about ourselves when we get older are related to changes in our environment, to changes in our bodies, and to changes in our thinking. Those three things combined can have a very strong effect on our self-esteem. It is those small changes over time that have the greatest impact on our self-esteem. If you are concerned about what affects self-esteem, consider making those three things a part of your daily goals.