The main contributor
There are many situations that can contribute to someone developing low self-esteem.
The main contributor is our past experiences.
- At home – Growing up with very critical or even abusive parents.
- At school – This could include bullying from other students and teachers
- Not keeping up with peers – Of course not everyone is academic, or fashionable, or good at every extra curricular activity. However, the importance of academic performance is something that is drilled into us from a young age. It is therefore common that if someone is not academic or below average in ‘core’ subjects, negative conclusions are often drawn.
As we experience these situations, we collect all of this as negative feedback. With this information, we begin to draw negative conclusions about ourselves, as well as the world around us.
So why do we focus on childhood and early experiences? We are generally more mentally malleable at a young age and begin self-reflecting quite early on.
The self-esteem theory
The self-esteem theory encapsulates all the examples above. It suggests that other people’s opinions and reactions to us help us derive our own opinions about ourselves.
If reactions to us are generally negative, we find ways to explain and understand this aversive response. And one of the easiest conclusions we can draw is a negative self-view.
Another contributor can be mental illness or poor mental health. This is particularly the case with depression. Depression can be characterised by negative thoughts and ‘attention bias’. This means an individual with depression ‘attends’ to the negative whilst finding it easier to ignore the positives.
Therefore, all these things can contribute to use having a poor self-esteem. Continue on to see what impact low self-esteem can have…