Have you heard of the phrase ‘self-image?’. This simply refers to characteristics, such as physical appearance (“I have dark hair.”), nationality (“I am British.”) or even psychological qualities (“I am funny”). They are used to describe us, not evaluate us.
Self-esteem adds an evaluating component, attributing a sense of worth and value, be it in a positive or negative light. It is our overall opinion of ourselves, e.g. “I am good” or “I am unworthy”.
What about self-confidence? This is more about how well we can do something to a decent standard, and tends to refer to specific skills, e.g. “I am a good singer”.
Self-esteem is a spectrum from low to high, with health self-esteem nestled in the middle. When we have a healthy self-esteem we can be compassionate, empathic, respectful and accepting of ourselves and others.
If our self-esteem is too low, we may neglect ourselves, self-sacrifice a lot, people please and have a general lack of self-worth. We’ll tend to use negative words to evaluate ourselves, e.g. “I am useless”, “I am unlovable”, “I am rubbish at xyz”.
On the flip side, if you had a very high self-esteem you might be narcissistic, grandiose or selfish. You might think you are better than everyone else.
Therefore, it’s important we have a healthy, balanced self-esteem that sits in the middle. Where is your self-esteem at?
Read on to see how it developed….