Most people's feelings and thoughts about themselves keep changing as a result of their daily experiences. The grade you get in an examination, how your family and friends treat you — all can have a temporary impact on your general well-being.
Childhood experiences can also affect a person's image of himself or herself. Childhood experiences which lead to healthy self-esteem include:
• Being praised.
• Being listened to.
• Being spoken to respectfully.
• Getting attention and hugs.
• Experiencing success in sports or in school.
• Having trustworthy friends.
Those which lead to low self-esteem also include:
• Being harshly criticised.
• Being yelled at or beaten always.
• Being ignored, ridiculed or teased.
• Being expected to be "perfect" all the time.
• Experiencing failures in your work.
Most of the time, people with low self-esteem are often given messages that losing a game, getting a poor grade, etc mean they are failures.
People with a poor image of themselves tend to cover up. Here are three common features they portray:
The Impostor: Such a person acts happy and successful but is really terrified of failure. He or she lives with the constant fear that he or she will be "found out”. Such a person needs continuous successes to maintain the mask of positive self-esteem, which may not last for long.
The Rebel: The person acts as if the opinions or goodwill of others — especially people who are important or powerful — doesn't matter.
He or she lives with constant anger about not feeling "good enough" and continuously needs to prove that others' judgements and criticisms don't hurt, which may lead to problems like blaming others excessively, breaking rules or laws, or fighting authority.
The Loser: The loser acts helpless and is unable to cope with the world and waits for someone to come to his or her rescue.
He or she uses self-pity or indifference as a shield against fear of taking responsibility for changing his or her life.
He or she also looks constantly to others for guidance, which can lead to such problems as lacking the initiative to make decisions on his or her own.
Consequences of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem can have devastating consequences:
• It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood of depression.
• It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.
• It can seriously impair academic and job performance.
• It can lead to an increased temptation to drug and alcohol abuse.
If you find yourself having a negative image of yourself, know that you can get over it, though it takes time. Just believe in yourself and walk out in confidence and nothing will stand in your way.
By Fanny Nana Ampon
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."