Self-esteem is a key factor for our success in life and personal relationships. Sometimes the lack of energy or motivation to live one’s life, not getting the desired job, having a negative attitude towards the future, not believing to be worthy of what is good, self-boycotting personal and work achievements, rejecting one’s body, staying in harmful relationships and not believing in oneself, are some expressions of lack of self-esteem.
Self-esteem is essential for mental health and for individual and social well-being.
A huge part of the population doesn’t love themselves and another part doesn’t feel loved, this causes a lot of discomfort and emotional emptiness, which leads many people to try too hard to achieve recognition and social acceptance that most of the time doesn’t fill them.
In this article, I will explain how self-esteem is shaped, the importance of building healthy bonds in the early years, and the types of bond-based self-esteem. The role of parents and educators is essential for the development of healthy self-esteem in children, and thus contribute to the construction of a healthier society.
Why is childhood so important for self-esteem?
We come into the world vulnerable and totally dependent, emotionally, physically and mentally. The child is absolutely dependent on his or her environment and references to survive. Depending on how the child feels and lives these relationships, he or she will develop a concept of himself/herself . This self-concept will include, among other aspects:
-The confidence and security that you have in yourself and in your own abilities to achieve the objectives that you propose.
-Your own self-evaluation.
-The beliefs you have about yourself.
-Your own body image.
-The feelings you have about yourself.
It is very important to establish secure emotional bonds in childhood.
What is a secure bond and how to establish it?
It is where the child feels safe from being him/herself physically, mentally and emotionally. If we want our children to develop a good relationship with themselves, it is important to transmit to them that we accept and love them as they are, even when it is necessary to correct or guide them. And remind them that for nothing in the world, whatever they do, they will never lose our love. With this we create a safe space, where the child feels welcomed.
We have learned that in order to adapt and belong, we have to be different from what we are, and this is the main basis of self-esteem problems in our current society.
How can we know if we love ourselves enough?
-For the ability to take care of yourself, to attend to your emotions and feel worthy of love for being who you are.
-You feel loved for who you are and just as you are, and that you don’t have to make any efforts to be loved.
– By the way you talk to yourself. We can know what our self-esteem is based on the words, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that we have in relation to ourselves.
It is not the same to say to yourself “whatever happens I will be there for you” than to say “if you do this no one will love you.” There is a direct relationship between thoughts, feelings, and actions. Saying the first sentence is accompanied by a feeling of support and well-being, and consequently the action is accepted and based on love. The second sentence acts as a threat, which is accompanied by a feeling of discomfort and consequently an action based on fear.
Types of self-esteem
The way we relate to ourselves is closely related to our attachment style. Based on the theory of John Bowlby, we could talk about 4 types of self-esteem:
–Healthy. Can have a healthy and safe relationship with yourself. This means that you feel comfortable in your body, understands and supports your emotions and thoughts, feels security and self-confidence and is capable of taking the difficulties and challenges of life with resilience.
–Insecure. Can have an insecure and ambivalent relationship with yourself, may go from trusting yourself to doubting and betraying yourself. It is characterized by emotional instability, you can handle some circumstances, and others overcome causing a lot of discomfort.
–Avoidant. May have an avoidant relationship, characterized by your own disinterest and indifference, you may reject yourself or move away from what you need, which produces emotional distress.
–Disorganized. Rejection of oneself. Can be self-destructive and as a consequence can hurt the one who loves. The childhood of these people was wounded by violence.
Whatever type of self-esteem you have, your body has the capacity to learn again. The past doesn’t have to condition your life forever, although sometimes a little professional help is necessary.
Self – leadership
If you decide, you can take control of your life and lead it. There is something that will help you, and it is the most important thing. It is about making the decision and the deep conviction to improve the relationship with oneself, because this in itself is an act of love and self-care. The moment a person makes the decision to love himself or herself, the decision to stay in life, and say enough to self-abuse, has 80% of the work done, because that motivation is like a spark inside you on which your potential will sprout.
But if you don’t want to, nothing and nobody can do it for you.
The moment you make this decision, how do you start walking towards self-leadership?
It is important that you start knowing you, as if you were a stranger to yourself. For what? To change the perspective from where you look at yourself. We tend to look at the world in the same light, including ourselves, which totally limits our vision.
Start listening to your emotions.
Try to be in contact with nature, the sound of life in its pure state will help you to listen to yourself, and to your inner voice, that speaks to you when you stop and allow the silence of your mind.
What can you do if you are a parent or educator?
-You deserve to take care of yourself and your emotions, so it will also be easier for you to accompany the child’s emotions. Getting angry and still transmitting love is compatible.
-Believe and trust them, and let them know. Love your children for the simple fact of existing, that is the most important thing. Do the same work with yourself.
-Listen and try to understand their feelings and accept them without judgment, whatever they may be.
-Remember that what you want to see in your children, they must first see it in you.
To conclude, a healthy self-esteem benefits us and those around us. By taking care of ourselves from the heart, we will also learn to be more kind and understanding to others, and these experiences will also have an impact on their lives. When we can see that every act of love towards oneself or others is a huge step for humanity, we will have learned that we can help each other heal together.
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