What is Self Esteem?

What Does Self Esteem Mean

We explain what self-esteem is and what types of self-esteem exist. How to improve self-esteem? Self-esteem in adolescence.

It is about the evaluation that we ordinarily make of ourselves.

What is self esteem?

Self-esteem is known as a set of perceptions , evaluations and appreciations that an individual has regarding himself or the activities that he carries out. This can focus on your whole person, your work, or your bodily appearance, etc. It is about the evaluation that we ordinarily make of ourselves.



All people have a mental projection of who they are, what they look like, what they are good at and what they are bad at, and how they are perceived by others. Whether or not that description we make of ourselves is true, the truth is that it is formed during childhood and our relationship with ourselves rests on it: self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important concept within the disciplines of psychology and education , so much so that its definition regularly depends on the psychological approach that is preferred . For example, the psychologist Abraham Maslow, creator of the famous pyramid of the hierarchy of human needs, included in his theory an entire rung of the pyramid for "Self-esteem needs" such as acceptance, trust, success or respect .

What most psychological doctrines agree on , however, is that self-esteem is a key value in our relationship with others , since everyone admits the amount of love or, on the contrary, the forms of abuse, which feel you deserve. Self-esteem, moreover, would have its beginnings in our paternal relationship, since the approval of the father and mother is key to a healthy personality in the future.

It can help you: Maslow's Pyramid

High self-steem

We speak of a high self-esteem (or also "positive" or "correct") generally when the person presents the following personality characteristics:

  • Self-confidence. The person knows and accepts their values and is willing to fight for them despite encountering opposition. At the same time, he is capable of changing something about them if experience tells him that they were wrong.
  • Acceptance. The person accepts himself as he is, which does not mean that he does not try to overcome fears, conquer bad habits or change, but he does not feel guilty for being who he is or because his way of thinking does not seem appropriate to others .
  • Self-assessment. The person considers himself moderately apt, with things to offer to others and interacts with them under conditions of equality and dignity .
  • Passion. He is able to enjoy certain activities and rejoice in his own existence, which does not mean that he lives in a state of constant joy. You can be sad or happy, like anyone else, but in the face of external stimuli or conjunctures.

Low selfsteem

Colloquially, we speak of “low” self-esteem (in other terminologies: “wrong”) when people exhibit any of the following behaviors :

  • Constant self-criticism. The person remains in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, diminishing or seeing the negative side of everything he does or receives.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism. The person tolerates criticism little and is hostile to those who question him, and is easy to resent.
  • Compulsive desire to please. The person puts his own needs above those of others, in order to receive approval from them, and is unable to say no.
  • Perfectionism The person demands himself to do things perfectly, which is often impossible, and the slightest failure represents a catastrophe for him.
  • Constant guilt. The person is unable to forgive mistakes and is eternally condemned for them.
  • Defensiveness. The person reacts to life as under constant attack, and is unable to fully agree with the enjoyment of living or happiness.

How to improve self-esteem?

Some simple tips to address self-esteem are:

  • Avoid comparison. Understand that everyone does what they can with their lot.
  • Be realistic. Regarding the proposed goals (which are achievable and in the short and medium term is better), but also the defects and virtues (do not enlarge or minimize them).
  • Make peace. With the past and the mistakes made, with the damages received or with the lost. Letting go is essential in order to live in the present.
  • Defend your own. Do not give in to the requests of others that contradict what we want or want, or give up what we seek simply to receive approval from others. Your own is the most important.

Self-esteem and adolescence

Adolescence is a stage of profound physical and mental changes in the human being , whose mark on self-esteem can be decisive in the construction of the adult.

This conviction has led schools and educators around the world to address sensitive issues of harassment or bullying , as well as emotional and sexual education, in the adolescent population , since it is the most sensitive and vulnerable in terms of self-esteem.

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