Understanding self-esteem



Self-esteem is a term we use to describe how we feel about ourselves and what we value as human beings. According to Rosenberg, 1965, self-esteem is defined as “how someone values and appreciates themselves and considers themselves a valuable person.” How we judge ourselves can impact how we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves. Research suggests that self-esteem is subject to fluctuation depending on many factors. Argyle (2008) suggested that self-esteem can be affected by four factors: how others react to us, our comparisons to others, our social roles, and who we identify with. We know that self-esteem is complex and interdependent of our environment, life experiences, and ourselves. These factors may have an impact on self-esteem:

Our confidence in ourselves?

Who are we identifying as?

How competent do we consider ourselves to be?

How secure do we feel about our environment?

Our thoughts on how other people perceive us?


Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy Of Needs” plays an important role in self-esteem. Maslow’s pyramid shows that the most basic needs are at the bottom. More complex needs can be found as we move up the ladder towards self-actualisation, which is learning and developing our potential. Maslow believed that self-esteem could be built by the interaction of feeling valued by others and building inner respect. Rosenberg created a self-esteem scale that can be used in psychology and explored self-esteem in his research. Different views exist on self-esteem. Some believe there are six types of self-esteem. These can describe our global self-esteem or how we view ourselves. Or our self-esteem in specific areas such as work or sports. This indicates that our overall self-esteem may fluctuate depending on what we do in different situations. However, it may arise when we feel competent and accomplished.


A variety of factors can impact our self-image and the value we place on ourselves. Our self-esteem can be negatively affected by life experiences, traumas and illnesses, loneliness, stress, relationships difficulties, racism, discrimination, and social isolation. Our life experiences will often be the foundation of our self-esteem. Although it can fluctuate throughout our lives, it may serve as a starting point from which our self-esteem grows or decreases.

Two factors are crucial in developing self-esteem in children and teens. These are perceived competence in areas that are important to the person and social support experience. High self-esteem can help us feel more confident, capable and confident in our abilities. Low self-esteem can have an impact on how we interact with the environment. We may withdraw from others, feel less confident, and experience low moods. Higher self-esteem can help us feel more confident in ourselves and be more accepting of ourselves. High self-esteem can help us speak out in public or feel more confident about ourselves. Different theories may suggest that we all have a baseline level of self-esteem. However, we can experience different levels depending on the context, environment, and task. You may feel a positive self-image, but your ability to learn new tasks or drive a car may decrease.

Self-esteem is often viewed as either high or low. It is important to remember that self-esteem can fluctuate depending on life events and situations. Many factors can influence self-esteem. The impact of relationships, school, and work can all positively or negatively affect how we view ourselves. We may also experience positive feedback from various settings but feel that we aren’t good enough or that our efforts have been influenced by luck.

Low self-esteem can make it difficult to be kind to yourself and see the future with optimism. You may experience low self-esteem, self-doubt, shame, and self-consciousness. We all know that many factors can keep low self-esteem in place, and they may manifest differently in different people.


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, for example, aims to raise awareness about our thoughts and how they impact us. We may gain skills to understand why we feel certain things at certain times and how we can deal with them.

Compassion Focused therapy is an approach that helps us to be more compassionate, kind, and forgiving towards ourselves and our environment.

There is no single way to improve self-esteem. This is in contrast to mental health problems like depression or anxiety. A wide variety of therapies may prove to be beneficial. Low self-esteem can also contribute to mental health problems. Therefore, seeking out support for mental health issues may positively impact your self-esteem.

It is important to have a good understanding of your self-esteem and how it influences your life.

We hope you found this helpful.

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