Disordered eating Low self-esteem is more than an unpleasant feeling. It takes a toll on our lives. Again, according to DoSomething. The numbers for boys are not too far behind. One of the most important things to know is that low self-esteem is not an accurate reflection of reality or something set in stone.
Self-esteem is a state of mind, and it can be changed. No matter how convinced you are of your current evaluation of yourself, you have nothing to lose and the world to gain by considering that you have much more control over your self-esteem than you think. Making the choice to challenge your thinking may change how you think and what you do, now and in the future.
The following section explains some common causes of low self-esteem in young people and is meant to help you identify potential sources in your life. Part 2 of this series will provide you with tools for raising your self-esteem, so be sure to spend some time reviewing that, too.
You can feel better about yourself; you can raise your sense of worth. You can make the choice to put yourself in a better position to lead a healthy, productive and meaningful life.
Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Then and only then can your strengths emerge and be put to use. The causes of low self-esteem can be hard to identify; there is no one cause for everyone, and some people suffer for a variety of reasons. But the following are some common situations that factor into self-esteem, and getting familiar with them can help you identify at least some of the causes in your life.
Everyone deserves a loving family, but some young people have the misfortune of not getting adequate support at home. Parents or guardians with mental health issues, substance abuse issues or other challenges may not be able to provide their children with the care, guidance and attention they need and deserve.
This can cause significant self-esteem problems for young people, as those who are supposed to care for them most may not seem to. This is very damaging to how you see yourself.
Abuse — whether physical, emotional, sexual or a combination of these — often causes feelings of shame and even guilt. A person may feel that he or she did something to deserve the abuse, that he or she was not worthy of the respect, love and care of the abuser. This can lead to feeling unattractive and inadequate, on top of the profound disempowerment that comes with seeing your body as an object for others to behold.
Many young men struggle with low self-esteem associated with weight and body composition — particularly concerning muscle mass. The body of a man is not so much treated in our culture as an object for others, but as a sign of his masculinity.
Young men may feel pressured to develop large muscles as a show of strength and manliness; they may also feel self-conscious about their height. Small Fish, Big Pond. This leads to feelings of ineffectiveness, powerlessness and worthlessness. Why am I here? What do I matter? The inevitable failure to meet unrealistic goals may lead to the feeling that you are a failure in general. Sometimes we get locked into a certain pattern of decision-making and acting.
Maybe you participated in risky behaviors like drug use or unprotected sex. When you get used to feeling, thinking and talking about yourself in a particular way, it becomes habit. Your thoughts and feelings actually work in the same way sometimes. Just as our muscle memory can learn the wrong way to perform a physical activity, our thought and feeling memories can learn inaccurate patterns. The last one — the development of negative thought patterns — may be responsible for the persistence of low self-esteem in most people, regardless of the initial causes.
Young people should examine situations in their lives — at home, in school, social spheres, for example — as well as their own attitudes and thoughts — about their bodies, goals, past choices and sense of purpose, for example — to identify potential sources of low self-esteem.
Your Choices Can Improve Your Self-Esteem The important thing to remember while you are doing this self-evaluation, which may extend over a period of months or even years, is that in almost every situation or condition, you can make choices that will improve your thinking and improve your life. Whether you believe it at this very moment or not, you have unique interests, strengths, skills and feelings that suit you for many purposes and, in the long run, can be of great benefit to you and those around you.
As you think about who and why you are, be sure to be on the lookout for these unique aspects of yourself — they will speak to you if you listen for them. And when you do, when you feel in synch with what makes you unique, your self-esteem meter just might register some of its all-time highest ratings. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. See Part 2 of this series for actions you can take, here and now, to boost self-esteem.