In the past, it was thought that what affects self-esteem is mainly attributable to one’s upbringing. It was felt that poor self-esteem resulted from a victimization during childhood. This theory implied that poor childhood experiences caused the victim to develop low self-esteem. If the victim’s life was filled with constant pain, then this pain would have an effect on the way he or she perceived himself or herself. In other words, the self-image would be skewed and self-esteem would be negatively affected.
However, these days, this view is under challenge. There are many reasons why low self-esteem can be inherited. In fact, there are now studies showing that the self-image of children may depend in part on the early years in their lives spent being sexually abused. What affects self-esteem refers to the extent to which someone perceives his or her self-image to be low or bad. It also refers to the extent to which a person determines that the way he or she sees him or herself is the way others see him or her.
The way you perceive your self-image also impacts self-esteem. People who grew up being emotionally and physically abused but who have good self-esteem do not tend to abuse others in the same way that those who grew up in more financially and happier lives do. Those who grew up believing they were ugly but who have good self-esteem do not find themselves being stared at as weird or picked on. In short, the way in which a person thinks about his or her self-image relates to how that person perceives his or her life. One of the specific domains of self-evaluation where there is great evidence of an effect on self-esteem is how a person feels about his or her physical appearance.
Childhood experiences and self-talk have a profound impact on how a person feels about himself or herself. If you look back at your childhood experiences, you probably have vivid memories of trying to escape the acne, tics, and other facial discomforts that plagued your childhood. You may also have very concrete, conscious self-talk during your childhood experiences, such as “if I was ugly, nobody would love me” or “if I had bad skin, no one would want to be around me”. These beliefs about your physical appearance formed a lot of your adult self-talk, for example “if I’m ugly, I can’t be smart, I must be depressed, and so on”. In short, your childhood experiences and your conscious self-talk have a very strong influence on how you feel about yourself now, even if those feelings are motivated by a desire to avoid the pain of growing up with acne.
New research now shows that there is a biological basis for these beliefs about your appearance and your self-image. In fact, a recent study found that the link between low self-esteem and general health is the same for physically appearance self-esteem as it is for mental health. The study also looked at two specific domains of self-esteem, which are the beliefs about your physical appearance and the beliefs about your personality, and discovered that the beliefs about your appearance were stronger than the beliefs about your personality.
The new research looked specifically at the relationship between the physical attractiveness domain of self-esteem and the level of general self esteem, both in childhood and adulthood. It found significant and robust results on both domains. What does this mean? It means that if you want to improve your self-esteem, regardless of whether your problem is simply picking up a few extra pounds or whether you believe that you are not attractive enough, it is important that you focus on the aspects of your body that you like and invest time and energy into improving those aspects. In other words, if you think that your breasts are not your favorite part of your body and that your facial features are not attractive enough, you can make an effort to learn how to fix those issues so that you can invest some time and effort into getting those aspects of your body in better shape.
The study also looked at the relationship between the amount of time and effort that a person devoted to physical appearance self-esteem and general self-esteem. What do you think? Did the results of the study reveal a direct relationship between these two factors? And if so, why would there be such a strong connection between these two factors? More importantly, what does this mean for you?
Well, as you get older, it is likely that your body’s ability to repair itself will lessen. As we age, our body’s ability to repair itself decreases. Because it is possible for our body to break down as we age, you can imagine that the level of our physical appearance self-esteem also decreases as we age. You see, if you are concerned about your physical appearance, it is very possible that you are also concerned about your general self-esteem. This means that if you are constantly worried about your looks, you are also worrying about your general self-esteem.