Self-esteem is having respect or confidence in yourself and how you interpret your abilities, appearance, and/or attributes. It reflects an overall sense of value or worth, and it affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Often words such as self-worth, self-image, and self-respect are used interchangeably with self-esteem. In short, a healthy self-esteem accepts and values you for exactly who you are, even your flaws.
Self-esteem impacts every area of our lives, including our mental and emotional health and how we operate at work and in relationships. Your level of self-esteem also varies throughout different stages of life. If high school was a particularly difficult period of your life, your self-image may have been lower than it is now. Perhaps getting older is causing lower self-esteem than how you once viewed yourself. Our self-perception is often linked with how others have treated us in the past. We might make past or current judgments about ourselves based on those experiences.
Along the spectrum of self-esteem, some people have a high sense of self-worth. Others find they have very low self-esteem, possibly facing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Feeling inadequate, unlovable, and/or unworthy may accompany a lower self-image. If you find yourself on the low end of the self-image spectrum, it is important to remember you are not alone. This could be a symptom of depression, and your doctor or mental health professional can help.
Determining Self-Esteem Levels
There are some useful ways to determine where your self-esteem levels are. Consider these possibilities:
If you are looking to better your self-image, here are several practical steps to follow as you take inventory of your thoughts:
Taking Care of Yourself
Learning to change how you interpret life takes energy. Taking time every day to care for yourself will help you feel healthy, and when you feel good you are more likely to be positive about yourself and your abilities. Listen to your body, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. Take time for activities and people you enjoy most. A simple way to enjoy life and stay positive is to help someone else.
Rearranging your thoughts and learning to take care of your body takes time and practice. The more you challenge your negative thoughts and habits, the more confident you will feel in yourself and your actions. When you are positive about yourself, you will have a positive impact on the world around you.