Low self-esteem has been often considered the cause of many the world’s social problems—from crime, to the inability of people to socially interact with other people. However, there has been little consideration of what it really is, and what tangible effects it may have on a person. To understand what it is and, in effect, resolve some of its detriments, it is first important to explore some basic ideas related to it, as well as its various impacts.
To begin with, self-esteem is the value people associate themselves with. Therefore, unlike the misconception that self-esteem is how confident people are about what they can do; self-esteem is more self-worth than confidence. The latter, after all, is more associated with the belief in one’s own ability to perform future tasks, whereas self-worth is how they see their own selves now.
However, this is not to say that self-esteem is a variable concept. Quite the contrary, psychologists consider self-esteem as an enduring conception that people have about themselves, despite the fact there may be some instances of a person’s self-worth momentarily faltering in the opposite direction.
When people suffer from feelings of low self-worth, they often compare themselves to other people. In the process, they see their flaws sticking out, making them less respectable than the people they are comparing themselves to. They will see what they lack and what they do not possess, and over-glorify the good traits that other people may have.
Increased paranoia over the possibility that people are making fun of them may also take place. They may be excessively afraid of being judged when they go out in public with their flaws so obvious for the world to see. This will create within them strong feelings of self-hate and self-loathing.
There are also moments when people who suffer from low levels of self-esteem feel as though they do not deserve the things they have, or are not worth the love their friends or family give on them. They will often feel like they are not worth the trouble, and clearly a waste of whatever time, money, and effort that people may be spending to be with them or to make them feel special.
They may then withdraw from whatever social interactions they have, or may at least have some difficulty interacting with other people. They may become too sensitive to critique, and may often feel helpless and vulnerable even when around the people who truly care for them. Unfortunately, some of them may also express whatever self-hate they feel through anger and increased intolerance of what other people have to say to them.
Some indicators of some form of low self-esteem may include an obsessive form of perfectionism. People who suffer from such low self-worth impose impossible standards on themselves, and therefore foster deeper feelings of self-hate as they are unable to meet these expectations. They may also be too willing to please other at their own expense. This is usually because whatever affirmation they receive from other people become ways for them to see themselves, at least momentarily, as worthy of respect and love.
Unfortunately, without that nod of approval from other people, they will again express feelings of worthlessness.