Self esteem refers to the way in which we view and think about ourselves, and the subsequent value we attribute to ourselves. When our self esteem is low, we have an overarching negative outlook of ourselves, we judge or evaluate ourselves negatively, and we place little value on ourselves.
Someone with low self-esteem might think “I’m not as cool/ beautiful as other people so they won’t want to be my friend”, “I can’t believe I made a mistake, how can I be so stupid?!?!??!”, “I’ve got nothing worthwhile to add to the conversation so I better just be queit”, or “I’m not good enough”.
There is a strong correlation between low self esteem and poor mental health, and therefore it’s worth paying attention to the quality of our internal dialogue. When situations don’t go the way we anticipated, and we berate ourselves, this adds to our distress. This does not motivate us to be better. On the contrary, we may feel more hopeless for change. This potentially creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself! Meaning, we don’t think we are capable, and therefore, we don’t try, which reinforces the belief that we are incapable.
Research suggests that practicing being kind to ourselves, or practicing self compassion is a powerful tool to improve self esteem. According to Kristin Neff’s book on Self-Compassion, there are 3 core components on the topic:
1. being kind and gentle towards ourselves, rather than being harsh, critical or judgemental
2. recognising our common humanity, for example, making mistakes is a common experience to all human beings
3. being mindful – holding painful experiences in awareness (not ignoring our pain or exaggerating it)
Often, self compassion is a new way of relating to ourselves that requires practice. The more practiced we are at it, the easier it is to break free from unhelpful thoughts we have about ourselves. Perspective taking exercises, mindfulness exercises, and guided meditation exercises can help to develop this skill.
If this is an area of personal growth that you require support in, feel free to reach out to us at Prosper Health Collective.