Newborn babies have no self-esteem problems. They have no concept of failure or falling short of expectations. In a very real sense, our interactions with other people are the root causes of low self-esteem. Since you cannot avoid interacting with people, you have to learn how to identify these causes and stop them from affecting you.
Low Self-Esteem from the People You Know
Parents lay the foundation for self-image. Children understand that parents expect certain things of them, and if they fail these expectations, it can decrease their sense of self-worth. It is important for parents to realize the limits to which they can push their offspring to excellence. You cannot change your past, and you cannot blame your parents for wanting you to succeed, but what you can change is the way you look at it. Accept the love, learn to set aside the disappointment, and move on.
Your partner also has certain expectations about your relationship, so it is important that these expectations are verbalized. Constant dialogue is important as there can be no greater blow to self-image that being thought of as falling short of an ideal that you do not even know about. The same principle can be applied to relationships with friends and relatives. Be sure that you can clarify your role and understand what they expect of you.
Work relationships are at once both easier and harder on self-image. On one hand, your job description makes the expectations of the people in the workplace crystal clear. On the other hand, this clarity also makes it easier to point out your faults. What is important in this situation is to realize that a job is an opportunity for growth. If you do not have the needed skills yet, identify them so you can gain them and meet your goals.
Low Self-Esteem from the People You Don’t Know
The opinions of total strangers affect all of us to a certain degree. These opinions may reach your in many different ways. You may overhear comments of people as you walk down the street. You may read comments about you written in blogs or articles. You may identify with certain groups that are discussed in the media, such as on TV or in magazine articles.
Judgments from people who do not know you can sometimes be more devastating than from those close to you. You may feel unfairly judged or belittled. Worse, you may even partially agree to these negative pronouncements. This can push your self-image even lower. What is important is to identify the feeling and examine its cause. If you cannot dispute a negative observation yourself, look for positive affirmation. People who know you can help you set these things into perspective. Many resources both on-line and in print can prove these judgments wrong. You may want to avoid magazines or TV shows that make frequent mistaken pronouncements.
As you can see, our opinion of failing other people’s expectations is the seed from which poor self-image sprouts. These causes of low self-esteem are ubiquitous and unavoidable so you must learn to guard against them if you want to grow. Learning to deal with other people in a positive way is the one sure path to confidence and a good self-image.