Understanding Self-Esteem: How Low Self-Worth Shakes Our Life

December 27, 2023

Understanding Self-Esteem: How Low Self-Esteem Shakes Our Life

We often say someone "seems to have low self-esteem." But what exactly is self-esteem, and why is low self-esteem problematic? Can it be related to mental health? This article aims to explore self-esteem and how low self-esteem can disrupt lives.

Self-esteem refers to the respect and value one has for oneself. With high self-esteem, people tend to have a positive and optimistic view of themselves and their lives. Conversely, low self-esteem often makes individuals feel inadequate and vulnerable, leading to a negative or skeptical outlook on life. Common traits associated with low self-esteem include:

Thoughts Encountered with Low Self-Esteem

  • Negative perceptions of oneself, one's abilities, and the future.
  • Concerns about coping with negative situations.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or insufficiency.
  • Self-critical language.
  • Negative self-labeling (e.g., "I'm an idiot").

Emotions Felt with Low Self-Esteem

  • Moodiness.
  • Sadness.
  • Discouragement.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Guilt.
  • Frustration.
  • Anger.

Behaviors Exhibited with Low Self-Esteem

  • Struggling to defend oneself.
  • Avoiding anxiety-inducing situations, people, or places.
  • Striving to avoid any mistakes.
  • Overly trying to please others.
  • Displaying perfectionism.

Now, let's look at an adapted case report to see how low self-esteem can manifest in real-life scenarios.

😕 Rozi's Story

I was born the second daughter between a doctor father and a teacher mother, and I had an older sister. My sister excelled at everything, and people often compared us—though, I wasn't a mess myself. I did well in studies and sports, but my sister was outstanding. Whether it was my family or teachers, I felt suffocated whenever they subtly compared us. It made me feel like something was wrong. I always strived to do more.

As an adult, I tried to give back twice as much as I received. I treated my partner kindly and did my best, but the relationship ended. At work, I didn’t want to fall behind my peers, so I worked tirelessly, seeking perfection. I kept saying "YES" to my boss even when tasks piled up until I couldn't take it anymore, leading to burnout and severe depression; I felt incapacitated.

I still don't understand what went wrong. I just tried to do my best—be kinder to people, make them happier, be more perfect than anyone. I don't know why I ended up like this. It feels like there's a hole. Where did things go wrong?

As seen from Rozi's narrative, self-esteem is not a trivial matter. Often, low self-esteem roots from accumulated experiences since childhood, and realization doesn't come from mere pointing it out. It requires a more systematic, slower approach to examine the origins and understand how these are currently troubling the individual. If needed, revisiting and reinterpreting related memories can be part of the healing process. Without doing so, issues of self-esteem can recur, leaving one wondering, "Where did it all go wrong?"

In this article, we've examined traits of low self-esteem and through a case study, how it can negatively impact one's life. If you see similarities in your situation and struggle with depression or anxiety, seeking professional help can be significantly beneficial. Understanding and detached contemplation are the first steps towards potential change, available to everyone.

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