How does self-esteem affect an individual's life
Self-worth, self-acceptance & self-compassion - why a loving relationship with ourselves is so important
Self-worth plays an important role in the life of each and every one of us - sometimes more, sometimes less consciously. But what exactly is it that defines “good self-esteem”? Why is it so natural for some people to accept themselves while others struggle so hard with it?
Nobody but ourselves influences our self-worth
If we look up the term “self-worth” in the lexicon, we find descriptions such as “subjective evaluation that a person attaches to himself”. The word "subjective" is important here. Because even if we believe that we can only like ourselves if others accept and appreciate us, or if no one thinks anything negative about us, it is only us who our self-worth depends on. Scientific research suggests that the difference between people with low and high self-esteem is not in the acceptance they experience from others, but in their own thoughts and feelings towards themselves.
We often also think that our self-worth is determined by what we do and what we achieve: "If I were successful professionally, I would like myself more." "If I were thinner, I could accept myself better.", "If I had a partner, I wouldn't feel so inferior. ”While these things can be important to us in life, they don't seem to play a major role in self-esteem. There are people who have achieved a lot, are admired by others and are still plagued by self-doubt. In the same way, there are people who have not achieved much, are not particularly attractive and still live contentedly with themselves. How can that be?
More recent approaches in psychology assume that healthy self-esteem does not arise from achieving a lot or doing better than others in life. It is much more important that we learn to accept ourselves independently of all this, that is to say really “unconditionally”. The psychologist Albert Ellis described it this way: "I am valuable because I exist, simply because I live."
Why do some people find it so difficult to accept themselves for who they are?
Much of the roots of our self-worth lie in childhood. During this time we develop a precise sense of how we have to be and how we have to behave in order to secure the care of our caregivers, which is necessary for survival. Over time, we take on the requirements and attitudes of our environment in our self-image, "internalize" them. That means we end up taking them for our own.
If we have to deal with very high demands, critical or even derogatory caregivers in our childhood, we could learn, for example, that we are only lovable if we always do the right thing and never make mistakes. Then later it could be difficult for us to accept ourselves if we are not "perfect". If, on the other hand, we have experienced a lot of love and acceptance from our caregivers, we learn that we are “okay” the way we are. This forms a good basis for a healthy self-esteem.
When we are depressed, our self-worth also suffers
The subject of self-esteem is so closely related to the subject of depression that it was even included as a characteristic in the criteria. Accordingly, abnormally low self-esteem, excessive guilt, and low self-confidence can indicate a depressive episode.
If you already have low self-esteem from the start, this can make us more susceptible to psychological stress and thus also increase the risk of developing a depressive episode. An accepting, loving treatment of ourselves in turn promotes our well-being and is a kind of protective shield against mental illnesses such as depression.
How we can learn to accept ourselves
The good news is that our self-worth is not set in stone. Accepting yourself, loving yourself, and being compassionate with yourself can be learned by anyone.
Various methods have been developed for this in psychotherapy. What they have in common is that a self-compassionate, benevolent inner attitude is encouraged in order to counteract overly critical inner voices and to promote self-acceptance.
If you want to work on your self-worth, it is worthwhile to consciously identify and work on negative inner voices. Are you right in what you say? Are they really helpful or are they just making you feel worse? What could you say to them? Because many people are so unaccustomed to speaking lovingly to themselves, it can be helpful to first say something encouraging, supportive or comforting in writing.
For example, you can just write down what you did well that day for two weeks. Or you can write a letter to yourself in which you speak benevolently to yourself. Such exercises can be a first step towards creating a counterbalance to a negative self-image.
Mindfulness meditation can also be a good way to look at your negative assessments from a distance, put them aside, and look at yourself with more benevolence and curiosity.
How Moodpath Can Help You Boost Your Self-Esteem
Moodpath can support you on the way to better self-worth. Here you can test how things are going with your self-worth. Through daily questions and entries you can also recognize patterns: What weakens your self-worth, what is good for you? Exercises for reading or listening can help you to perceive your self-critical aspects and sometimes to put them in their place. At the same time, you learn to strengthen benevolent parts of yourself and to approach yourself a little more lovingly every day.
Would you just like to try it out? Then you can now take a break for some self-compassion:
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