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Raising the Bar
Until recently I have lived my life with a very low opinion of myself. When a person does not have “a just opinion of oneself” (Webster’s Standard Dictionary 242) they have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is the result of a low or negative opinion that one has about himself. There are various causes of low self-esteem that range from outside influences to self criticism (Building Self-Worth and Confidence 2). Low self-esteem affects every aspect of a person’s life. It can ruin relationships and causes people to view themselves as inferior to others. Though low self-esteem can be very detrimental to one’s life it can be cured by a few simple steps (McCrimmon 1). Self-esteem can be easily torn down, but it can also be easily built back up.
My low self-esteem can be traced back as far as my childhood. Criticism was all too common in my household. It seemed that no matter how well I did there was always something I could have done better. Also, I was expected to be perfect at everything that I did. Getting less than an A on a report card was unacceptable. My parents placed me in a number of activities including soccer and dance and expected me to excel at all of them. I loved dancing and thought of it as one of my greatest talents. Now when I look back on my past as a dancer the first thing that comes to mind is getting scolded for a minor mistake in my performance in one of my first winter recitals. My parents never even realized that the little criticisms they were giving me tore me down.
Self-esteem is so easily torn down because people are not aware of the causes. A pessimistic outlook on life is a common cause of low self-esteem. Research shows that parents are often guilty of instilling low self-esteem in their children. When a parent points out what their child could have done better it causes the child to focus only on their failures. Though the parent may only be trying to point out room for improvement, it causes the child to develop the habit of always looking at what they did wrong (Self-Esteem 2). Self criticism is also a cause of low self-esteem. A person is often their harshest critic. People can also tear down their own low self-esteem by “taking strengths for granted because they come easy” (McCrimmon 1). By failing to recognize their attributes people ignore what makes them special. With such a wide range of causes it is obvious why self-esteem can be torn down so easily.
Low self-esteem played a large part in my life. I looked at the negative in everything. As I was shopping for new school clothes with my mother I would imagine what my classmates would think if I walked into school wearing that. I never bought what I liked, but rather what I thought others would like. When walking down the hallway at school I would pick out how the other girls were better than what I saw when I looked in the mirror. According to Mitch McCrimmon:
Low self-esteem is very debilitating. It may be associated with feelings of depression. Or it may mean not thinking very highly of yourself, doubting your ability to get the things you want or to attract the sort of people that interest you. Low self-esteem can be soul destroying and very costly if it limits you to playing it safe or causes you to avoid things that you would normally do (2).
There have been many times in my life when I have opted out of doing something because I was afraid of failing. I would put little effort into things that I thought I would be bad at because that meant that I had an excuse to perform below par.
Low self-esteem crippled me and is still crippling millions of people throughout the world. According to research low self-image is directly linked with low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem often think of themselves as inferior to others in both looks and intelligence. People with low self-esteem spend most of their time “worrying about what others think of them” (Faull 2). Another common symptom of low self-esteem is the fear of failure. People suffering from low self-esteem often omit from taking chances because they think they will fail. These people tend to stick to what is familiar to them instead of trying something new. To most people with low self-esteem the risk always outweighs the reward (Frey and Carlock 177).
It is needless to say that I was willing to do anything to overcome my low self-esteem. However, it was not until a close friend pointed it put that I realized that I had a problem. Now aware of my negative focus I tried to take extra care to think about the positive things that occurred throughout my day. Instead of thinking about all of the little things that went wrong I began to look at the big picture. It was not all that bad. With all the time that I had wasted focusing on my failures I failed to take note of my successes. Looking back on the whole process now I know how easy it is to combat low self-esteem once you are aware that you have a problem.
Self-esteem can be improved by applying a few simple steps. Awareness is the first step to the defeating low self-esteem. One cannot hope to find a solution if they do not know that there is a problem. After awareness all of the other steps involve being positive. Just like low self-esteem is caused by pessimism, high self-esteem is generated through optimism. This can be done in a number of ways that range from surrounding oneself with positive people to putting negative circumstances into perspective (Building Self-Worth and Confidence 2). Self-esteem can also be improved when a person stops comparing themselves to others. This makes it possible for that person to view themselves as having equal worth (Faull 5). Once one’s self-esteem improves various other aspects of their life will also improve.
Though low self-esteem is easily caused it is easily improved. After I became aware of my low self-esteem I quickly defeated it. Anybody can use the same steps that I used to combat my low self-esteem. I know from personal experience that improving self-esteem is not a difficult process. Now that I have a healthy level of self-esteem I find life much more enjoyable. I am a lot more positive on a day to day basis and I and happy just being myself. No matter what the cause of a person’s low self-esteem it can be cured by a few easy steps.
Faull, Kendall. "Another Name for Low Self-Esteem is Pride." Editorial. Summit Theological
Seminary. N.p., July 2007. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.
Frey, Diane, and Jesse C. Carlock. Enhancing Self Esteem. Muncie: Accelerated Development
Inc., 1989. Print.
McCrimmon, Mitch, Ph.D. "Low Self Esteem." Editorial. Leaders Direct. N.p., 10 Jan. 2011. Web.
7 Nov. 2011.
"Self-Esteem." FDU Psychology. Fairleigh Dickinson University, 2003. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.
"Self-esteem." Webster's Standard Dictionary. N.p.: Trident Reference Publishing, 2006. Print.
"Self-Esteem: Building Self-Worth and Confidence." SAIS-JHU. Johns Hopkins Student Assistance
Program, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.