Understanding self-esteem

This write up is all about understanding self-esteem. Self-esteem is the objective indicator of an individual’s own importance. Self-esteem includes both self-confidence and mental conditions such as victory, frustration, trust, and guilt. Self-esteem in psychology is the measurement of the representation of yourself (self-concept) and therefore a basic attitude towards oneself. While it’s not a feeling in the strict context, one also talks about self-esteem in daily life.

low self-esteemOften used as a psychological trait, Self-esteem can play a vital role in your life’s push and accomplishment. Low self-esteem may deter you from going to school or work because you don’t think you’re good enough. Having a high self-esteem, on the other hand, would help you do this as you view life with a positive, assertive attitude and know for sure that you are going to meet your goals.

Dimensions of Self-Esteem

To fully grasp the subject of understanding self-esteem, you need to know the different dimensions of self-esteem and how they can be differentiated from one another.

High versus Low Self-esteem: Self-esteem is believed to exist on a scale, implying that people’s self-esteem is assumed to vary seamlessly in quantity or severity, from low to high. Some individuals possess low self -esteem and some have higher self-esteem. The discrepancies between these persons are not apparent, but are only noticeable when analysing their thoughts and feelings regarding their self-importance.

Proportionality of Self-esteem: Often, self-esteem is assumed to vary in a particular way which we may define as proportionality or reasonability. The truth is that not all cases of high self-esteem are similar. Some individuals have arrived at a position with elevated self-esteem based on a set of specific achievements. They give credits to themselves for being able to face some obstacles because they have been able to handle similar or greater obstacles before. Their great assessment of themselves is in relation to the genuine difficulties they have faced and overcame in the past.

On the other hand, some people’s self-esteem seems to be too high but not commensurate with their actual achievements and success. These people speak highly of themselves, but they cannot point out any specific personal accomplishments, actions, or decisions they have taken, which can justify their opinion about themselves. Their high self-esteem is based more on entitlements rather than achievements.

This second form of high self-esteem is perceived to be less mentally healthy than the more proportional type of self-esteem, mainly due to narcissistic and self-centred behaviour that appears to surround the feeling of entitlement.

This type of high self-esteem is often defined as over-inflated, suggesting that it is unrealistic and out of proportion to real successes and behaviour. In adulthood, this kind of self-esteem may be related to narcissism.

Just like self-esteem, in relation to the successes and behaviour of an individual, may be too high or “over-inflated,” it may also be too poor, or “under-inflated.” In certain instances, individuals who wind up with low self-esteem have previously faced obstacles and difficulties and handled them well, and they have a foundation on which to feel positive for themselves. However, they do not consider these successes and efforts as important for different purposes, including a propensity towards depression, fear or excessive perfectionism, a pattern of participating in perceptual illusions, or whether they have been manipulated or used. They consider themselves to be incompatible with an internalized and unreasonably high expectation of goodness and therefore show very poor self-esteem and associated mental discomfort if they cannot reach the ideal norm. An objective outsider, however, will see them as respectable based on successes and deeds and would have trouble knowing why they felt so terrible for themselves.

Thus, self-esteem is more complex than what can be defined on a simplistic high vs. low scale. It differs in terms of both severity and reasonableness relative to successes and deeds.(Understanding self-esteem)

 Signs of Healthy Self-Esteem

Going a step further into understanding self-esteem, you need to know what a healthy self-esteem is and how you can quickly identify it. The following are traits can be easily seen in the life of people with healthy self esteem

  • Ability to ignore past failure or negative experience
  • Have the gut to talk about personal needs
  • Have genuine confidence
  • Are more optimistic about life
  • Can always say NO and mean it
  • Acknowledge and accept personal weaknesses

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

The under-listed experiences are symptoms of low self esteem

  • Assuming other people is stronger than you
  • Finding it hard to communicate your wishes
  • Dwelling excessively on your flaws
  • Frequent feelings of guilt, depression or anxiety
  • Having pessimistic approach to life and having continuous fear of failure
  • Having problems accepting feedbacks the constructive reviews
  • Inability to say NO and mean it’
  • Placing the interests of others above that of yourself
  • Always thinking you are suffering

Ego versus Self Esteem

Let’s continue the subject understanding self-esteem by talking about what ego is and how it differs from healthy self –esteem. Ego is the reverse of self-esteem. The major issue with ego is that it will often ‘camouflage’ itself as your self-esteem, and as such whenever you notice this, you must examine yourself and begin to track your behaviour and reactions. Your ego has a multitude of definitions, but we can summarily define it as your method for self-protection and your false self.



Ego can be compared to your internal child who is regularly crying for your attention. Ego constantly places self above others whether he is gossiping about people or doing random self-appraisal. Ego requires to be validated regularly for it to survive. He is always out on a rabid, insatiable quest for external validation. Ego do not accept his fault; he is an expert in everything and will never apologize. He sees everything as a competition that must be won.

On the other hand, a person with a high self-esteem is capable of profiting enormously from the point of view of others. He understands and esteems himself simply and frankly. The relationship between ego and self-esteem is that of reciprocal proportionality. The more ego you have, the less self-esteem you have at your disposal.

Ego is our fake self; it’s a cover-up of our own weakness. Ego pushes one to disregard the opinions of others, which is a big barrier to self-improvement and sustainable personal growth.

People with an ego issue are oblivious of their behaviour as such and I think the real reason for this is that they are leading a life that is principally un-examined. So, it’s crucial that you evaluate your life and relationships with your friends, family and colleagues on a regular basis. (Understanding self-esteem)

Differences between Ego and Self-esteem

  1. People with huge egos have abnormal regard for themselves. It goes to such a degree that narcissistic characteristics evolve and they begin to view the world through a warped prism. The major issue with individuals of this type is that they believe they’re better than anyone. They view themselves as perfect beings.

People with a high self-esteem, on the other hand, value themselves, but rather honestly. They are mindful of their strengths as well as of their shortcomings. They never pretend to be faultless. When they face challenges or obstacles owing to their deficiencies, they seek to find a workaround.

  1. The first thing we find as we communicate with individuals with massive egos is that they’re not able to look past their beliefs. You can’t ask them to examine or reconsider their opinions. They assume their opinion is the only accurate one. This causes regular friction with other people.

On the other side, individuals with a healthy self-esteem are willing to look beyond their own opinions. They realize their viewpoint isn’t the only one and they acknowledge other people’s views as well.

Other ideas might even get them enthused. The fact that they know how to listen and place themselves in the shoes of others automatically grant them ability to have more fulfilling friendships. They can easily embrace new ideas and the consequence is better communication and fruitful interaction

  1. People with a huge ego can’t bear objective criticism. Why? They take it as an assault on their person and on the twisted and unrealistic perception they have. Because they conceal their flaws behind this false grandeur, they are rendered defensive by anything that attempts to expose them.

People with a healthy self-esteem would acknowledge their mistakes. They will take criticism, and use it to improve themselves. They don’t repel criticism, sometimes they may even ask for it!

  1. People with ego assume that they are above every other person. For instance, they may believe they’re smarter, cleverer, or better looking than anyone. They sometimes even believe that the universe revolves around them.
  2. Another vital difference is —Ego is negative and unproductive while self-esteem is constructive and a symbol of confidence. The accompanying feeling of self-esteem is that of self-assurance and trust, while ego is associated with the feeling of vulnerability, pride and anxiety.

understanding self-esteem

Self Esteem and Self Image

To continue the subject of understanding self-esteem we need to be able to pin point the difference between self-esteem and self-image.  Self-esteem and self-image are confusing, closely related yet quite different from each other. Let’s do some clarifications


Self-esteem is your ability to value, appreciate and appreciate yourself. Sometimes what other people say can be very hurtful, but this will not affect your core belief that you are a lovely and valuable person.

There is an old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. People with self-esteem live out this old saying. They like themselves no matter what, they think they deserve happiness.


Understanding self-esteem cannot be fully teated without talking about self-image.

As you might imagine, when you look in the mirror, self-image is linked to what you see, but self-image is even more than this. Self-image, or “how do we see ourselves,” means how physical, mental, cognitive, social, and spiritual features are viewed. How you see yourself is self-image. Many of the self-images have accrued over time … This self-image can be very optimistic, making people believe in their opinions and actions, or pessimistic, making people question their skills and emotions.

Your self-image is your own opinion, as well as your own thoughts and your own personality. Factors such as your weight, beauty and intellect can also have a significant effect on the view of others.

The Elements and Dimensions of Self-Image

A person’s self-image has three elements:

  • The way people view themselves or think about themselves.
  • The way a person interprets his / her own impressions of others (or what he / she believe others think).
  • The way a human need to be (its ideal self).


A person’s self-image has six dimensions:

  • Physical dimension: how a person assesses his or her appearance
  • Psychological dimension: how an entity assesses his or her personality
  • Intellectual dimension: how a person assesses his or her intelligence
  • Level abilities: how a person assesses his or her social and technological abilities
  • Moral dimension: how a person assesses his or her values and standards
  • Sexual dimension: how a person thinks that he or she falls into the male / feminine stereotypes of society.

These elements and measurements provide a structure for understanding self-image.

Self-Image vs. Self-Esteem

In the real sense, self-image has much to do with self-esteem. Over all, the way we view ourselves is a major contributing factor to our thoughts towards ourselves.

Yet self-esteem goes further than the image of you. Self-esteem is the general sense of self-respect which means how favourably (or unfavourably) we feel towards ourselves.

Certainly, having a negative self-image can affect self-esteem, and having low self-esteem is likely to be followed by a poor self-image, but it’s at least another more separate facets of “self.”

Now that you have read understanding self-esteem, are you ready to go a step further and develop a healthy self-esteem?