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Self-esteem is your subjective sense of overall personal worth or value. Similar to self-respect, it describes your level of confidence in your abilities and attributes. Having healthy self-esteem can influence your motivation, your mental well-being, and your overall quality of life.

Key elements of self-esteem include:

  • Self-confidence
  • Feelings of security
  • Identity
  • Sense of belonging
  • Feeling of competence

Self-esteem impacts your decision-making process, your relationships, your emotional health, and your overall well-being. It also influences motivation, as people with a healthy, positive view of themselves understand their potential and may feel inspired to take on new challenges.

Four key characteristics of healthy self-esteem are:

  1. A firm understanding of one’s skills
  2. The ability to maintain healthy relationships with others as a result of having a healthy relationship with oneself
  3. Realistic and appropriate personal expectations
  4. An understanding of one’s needs and the ability to express those needs

People with low self-esteem tend to feel less sure of their abilities and may doubt their decision-making process. They may not feel motivated to try novel things because they don’t believe they can reach their goals. Those with low self-esteem may have issues with relationships and expressing their needs. They may also experience low levels of confidence and feel unlovable and unworthy. It is often our experiences that form the basis for overall self-esteem. For example, low self-esteem might be caused by overly critical or negative assessments from family and friends, often going back to unhealthy childhood experiences.

Having healthy self-esteem can help motivate you to reach your goals, because you are able to navigate life knowing that you are capable of accomplishing what you set your mind to. Additionally, when you have healthy self-esteem, you are able to set healthy boundaries in relationships and maintain a rewarding relationship with yourself and others.

If you have low self-esteem, it may manifest in a variety of ways:

  • You may believe that others are better than you.
  • You may find expressing your needs difficult.
  • You may focus on your weaknesses.
  • You may frequently experience fear, self-doubt, and worry.
  • You may have a negative outlook on life and feel a lack of control.
  • You may have an intense fear of failure.
  • You may have trouble accepting positive feedback.
  • You may have trouble saying no and setting boundaries.
  • You may put other people’s needs before your own.
  • You may struggle with low confidence.

You may also find it difficult to pursue your goals and maintain healthy relationships. Having low self-esteem can seriously impact your quality of life and increases your risk for experiencing harmful thoughts.

How do you build self-esteem? Become more aware of negative thoughts; use positive self-talk; change negative patterns; practice self-compassion. (Reprinted from