There are two components of
self-esteem: a feeling of being lovable,
and a feeling of being competent. It is best to have
both lovability and competence in one's life, so to have a balance.
Low self esteem essentially means a feeling that one is unworthy,
so one has a negative self-view. Low self-esteem is different
from depression, although they are related.
There are two strong motivations
that people have. One is a need for praise or positive
feedback. People want to be praised. However, there is
also a need for self verification; people need
to have their selves verified. That is, people need others to
confirm the view they have of themselves. These motivations can
conflict with each other, which can put one in a trap. The conflict
occurs when one's self view is negative, or when one has low self-esteem.
People with negative self views
will like to get small amounts of praise, but when they receive
large amounts of praise they will become anxious, because they
do not feel worthy of large amounts of praise. If they took large
amounts of praise seriously, then that would be questioning their
self view, which is a very scary thing to do.
We create an identity for ourselves
with the people we interact with. Thus, social interactions are
very important for our self identities, and self esteem.
People create opportunities for
themselves that will allow them to satisfy their need for self
verification of their personality. These situations work in a
way that they allow us to preserve our view of our self - our
self-view. We create these situations by giving other people cues
as to the type of person we are - through our behavior or appearance.
People tend to recall comments
that confirm their self views better than comments that disconfirm
their self views. Also, low self esteem people will emphasize
their weaknesses, not their strengths, while high self esteem
people do the opposite. Thus, people's perceptual biases are essentially
creating the world that they believe exists.
Changing Self Esteem - Raising Low Self Esteem
It is possible to increase your
self esteem, but it's not easy. Raising one's self esteem means
changing one's self view, and that can create anxiety. People
generally like predictability and continuity. They like novelty
or variety, but only within a broad context of predictability
and continuity. Their present self view is predictable and keeping
that self view would be continuing the course that the person
has been on, although that course might not be the best one for
the person. It is comfortable.
Some people in chronic
pain who then have their pain relieved do not feel their life
has improved, because taking away their pain has made them a different
person. They're not sure they like that person, or want to be
If someone's going to change their
self views, then they need to change their social interactions.
They won't necessarily have to change who they interact with,
but they will have to change how they interact with them at least.
Also, people are complex, so a
self esteem change can be initiated by emphasizing the things
that the person does feel they do well. That is, even people with
low self esteem feel they do some things
well, and those things should be emphasized while the other things
that they want to change are allowed to drop away.