The Guide to Self Esteem

A guide to understanding and classifying self esteem

Self-esteem can influence our lives in many ways, from relationships and mental health, to academic and professional success.

In a nutshell, self-esteem is how you view yourself and your capabilities. It can be high, low or anywhere in between. While everyone occasionally has doubts about their own performance, meaning self-esteem can fluctuate, we can classify self-esteem into two forms: healthy and unhealthy self-esteem.

What is healthy self esteem, and why does it matter?

Healthy self-esteem means that an individual generally knows that they are not perfect, and that no one is really, but that doesn’t matter in the long run.

People who have healthy self-esteem are generally quite comfortable in accepting the way they are. A healthy amount of self-worth would result in greater confidence, but not to the point of self-centeredness.

Healthy self-esteem can motivate one to continue working hard, as these individuals value their achievements and the effort put in to getting there.

Healthy self-esteem is beneficial in helping one move on after making mistakes, and also provides the strength to make tough decisions.

What is unhealthy self esteem?

Unhealthy self-esteem occurs when an individual feels that their self worth is low. This can potentially create a lack of trust in one’s ability to make decisions, and it can hinder someone from moving on from past mistakes.

Unhealthy self-esteem can lead to a degraded quality of life. This can include the fear of trying, negative emotions, anxiety, and lack of self care.

When one spends a lot of time dwelling on mistakes and finds it difficult to move on, this could be a sign of unhealthy self-esteem. A problem occurs when we may not even realize our self-esteem is low, since we tend to normalize our thoughts and behaviours.

See also: The Mind Cycle – Understanding the What, Why and How of our Minds

If at any time you are worried about your mental health or that of a loved one, contact a trusted mental health practitioner.

The Self Esteem Test

Have a look at the following statements, and rate the extent to which you agree with the statements. Use the following scale and give each statement a number from 1 to 6.

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

  1. I find it difficult to accept criticism of myself
  2. I do not feel that I’m a person of worth; other people are more important
  3. I tend to magnify my mistakes and ignore my successes
  4. I feel that I have a number of bad qualities
  5. I get embarrassed easily
  6. I often compare myself to others
  7. My achievements in life have been mostly due to good luck
  8. I often make decisions on the basis of what would please others without considering my own needs
  9. I rely on the opinion of others to make decisions

Add up the results for each statement to determine the score for this test.

Healthy self-esteem: 30 and below. On average, if many of the statements were disagreed with, then self-esteem can be considered in the healthy range. People in this category are generally comfortable with their current quality of life. Any changes or improvements from here on will be built on a solid foundation.

Moderate self-esteem: Between 30 – 45. This result means that an individual is not fully confident or content with their current state. Try to notice moments when the mind slips into thoughts of inferiority, and be aware that these are moments of low self-esteem.

Unhealthy self esteem: 45 and above. It is likely that thoughts and feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt resonate strongly within the mind. Such feelings of self-doubt can easily turn into irrational criticism of one’s abilities, if left unchecked.

Things to remember

Now that we have a clearer understanding of self-esteem and what it entails, it is important to realize the following points:

Self-esteem can change over time. At any moment, if an individual experiences unhealthy self-esteem, that does not mean that it will stay that way for life. In fact, self-esteem can be improved through actions like positive affirmation, gratitude, and mindfulness.

Try out some of the exercises we have for gratitude or read up on mindfulness, and take the Self Esteem Test after a few months to see how the results change.

As individuals, we grow, and there will be differences in the way we view ourselves. When we strive to find change within us, and to be our own inner strength, it is inevitable that self-esteem will improve as well.

Enjoyed this article? Let us know in the comments below! What are some instances when you have dealt with self-esteem, whether it might be your own or someone else’s?

BlankSlate Counselling is here to help anyone experiencing mental health issues. We aim to help individuals find their inner strength and move from Being to Becoming. To schedule a free first consultation, please WhatsApp us or give us a call today!

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