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Personal Perspective

Self-Esteem is Key to Healthy Self-Growth

by Shenice Long

Most of us, if not all, recognise the value of having healthy self-esteem. Self-worth allows us to become resilient in teh face of life’s emotional wounds. Not only that, it also has a monumental impact on our motivation, mental well-being and overall quality of life. 

Like many others, I too struggled with self-esteem as a child. Growing up, I had always given into my own automatic pessimistic thoughts. Those thoughts told me I wasn’t enough and that I would struggle to achieve the things other people would so easily achieve. 

I had formed an ideal image of who I had wanted to be from constantly comparing myself to others. Whatever others had which I lacked, I saw as a gaping void I desperately needed to fill. Being able to speak confidently, being a natural leader, being popular… The list went on. I was none of those things and I struggled with that. 

I struggled to find my own identity to secure a stable sense of self-respect and self-worth. 

What Affects Self-Esteem?

There could be a multitude of factors that would culminate in having a low self-esteem. Our upbringing and experiences growing up – the kind of relationships we had, the treatment we received from peers, family, and the environment we grew up in, all lay the foundation of our overall self-esteem. Genetics also has a part to play in how we ultimately view ourselves. 

The key takeaway is that self-esteem isn’t a concept set in stone. We grow through different experiences and with the right habits, our self-esteem could be built upon too. 

Developing a Healthy Sense of Self

But building self-esteem and striking that healthy balance which promotes self-growth is no easy feat. It took me a long period of self-discovery and reflection to realise my own self-worth and correct the maladaptive thinking patterns I had. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome in my battle against my own low self-esteem was myself – I was my harshest critic. And the breakthrough really only came when I understood what self-compassion truly meant. 

In my gradual journey of self-discovery, I started to piece together the puzzle that was myself. I learnt to embrace myself by figuring out who I wanted to be by realising and accepting my own strengths and weaknesses.

So how should we go about building our own self-esteem? Finding the root cause of your low self-esteem is a good start to laying down the foundation blocks for a healthy self-esteem. Negative thoughts are common. Could it have been unsupportive parents? Unkind peers? Or perhaps even your own unrealistic expectations. 

A low self-esteem could manifest in your inability to accept criticism, your fear of failure or overemphasizing your own weaknesses. Finding out the core of your self identity, your strengths, your weaknesses and what’s important to you would go a long way in your journey of self-empowerment. 

Remember – we can’t quite control our own negative thoughts. We will always have them but it’s how we choose to act upon them which makes all the difference. We should all learn to be compassionate to ourselves and embrace ourselves for who we are – flaws and all.

Written By

Shenice Long

Hey I’m Shenice 🤗 I’m a Psychology undergraduate passionate in the field of mental health and wellbeing. Only as I grew older did I come to realise the importance of establishing a healthy connection between myself and my emotions and appreciated the importance of mental health. As an aspiring Clinical Psychologist, I hope to bring change in any way I can to the mental health scene that truly has so much more room for improvement!

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