How to enhance Self-Esteem? - Part II

15, Oct, 2013, by Seema Bhatnagar

This is a three part series, also check out part I and part III here:
How to enhance Self-Esteem? - Part I
How to enhance Self-Esteem? - Part III

self-esteem quote from seema bhatnagar

Reasons for low Self-Esteem

There are situations in life which makes us feel bad and there is a constant pressure from others (parents, teachers or bosses or anybody who have influence on us) to comply to their own standards and on failing to do that, we develop a feeling of not being up to the mark or not adequate enough, reason being, our acceptance by others makes us feel good, respected, accepted and integrated with others.

At different stages of life and due to some other various factors which includes personal weaknesses, we do not have courage to go against significant others and feel compelled to live and behave according to them. Due to inability to express fully, we feel suppressed and less than adequate in such situations. For some people, it becomes a way of life and they spend their whole lifetime only in attempt to comply with others. It might sound harsh but the fact is there is always at least one reason or person in everybody's life who becomes a cause of low self-esteem.

Parental Expectations

There is a continuous pressure from parents for getting good grades at school and remaining on top in competitions. On not getting good grades, child faces constant criticism of not being up to the mark and gets a label of being "dumb" or "good for nothing". This gives a subtle message to child that s/he is not adequate enough and until and unless s/he gets good grades acceptance is not possible. I have seen parents going to a height where they expect their child to score highest possible grade in a particular subject in order to get an admission in best university. In India, especially, the competition is too hard; because of the large number of candidates appear in competitive examinations, getting admission in topmost universities is a big challenge. Poor child, on not getting admission in desired university face tough time at home and have to bear humiliation of not being successful. This criticism feeds self-concept of a child for not being adequate enough.

Our society as a whole also advocates the idea that woman has to look good and beautiful in order to be accepted by others. With this as a dominant thought, girls fall in suboptimal relationships which becomes another compelling reason for low self-esteem. Similarly, with boys, there is a constant pressure to look macho and must have romantic relationships with beautiful girls.

Peer Pressure

With peers, there is a constant pressure to look good and get accepted by others in a peer group. Especially for adolescents, nowadays, it has become a big problem; they face immense pressure to look good and have to have a romantic relationships in order to be accepted by others in peer group. On not meeting these expectations, there is a stark rejection by others, which puts many to depressing state. In order to avoid rejection, individual go by the whims of the group and does what is acceptable.

Especially for girls, there is a constant peer pressure and expectation to look good and beautiful. On not meeting these expectation girls feels less than adequate and have a feeling of not being accepted by opposite gender. Our society as a whole also advocates the idea that woman has to look good and beautiful in order to be accepted by others. With this as a dominant thought, girls fall in suboptimal relationships which becomes another compelling reason for low self-esteem. Similarly, with boys, there is a constant pressure to look macho and have to have romantic relationship with beautiful girls. Again, on not meeting these expectations they feel low on self-esteem.

Expectations at work

With bosses, constant criticism and on not meeting expectations makes people to feel less than adequate and drive them to feel low on self-esteem.

Family Pressure

For married people, there is a constant pressure of meeting expectations of kids and spouse and on not meeting those makes one to feel less than adequate, a feeling of not being a good parent or a good wife or a good husband.

For married couples, this is another big area which makes people to experience low self esteem. People fall in love and then get married, but after marriage there is altogether a different set of expectations from each other. A constant attempt to change each other for one habit or other gives a subtle message to each other for not being adequate enough.

On analyzing closely, almost all siginificant relationships in individual's life can be a potential cause of low self- esteem. People, who suffer low self-esteem, have low self-confidence and self-reliance and that makes them to slip into depression or other psychosomatic illnesses like high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, migraine, diabetes, and obesity and in the worst case, it can cause cancer also. Sometimes the damage of low self-esteem is too severe that recovering from depression becomes irreversible.

A quick list of some very common reasons of low self-esteem is:
  1. Poor academic performance.
  2. Relationship failure.
  3. Not looking good enough.
  4. Negative parenting.
  5. Not being trendy enough.
  6. Not having any romantic relationship.
  7. Not carrying smart and costly cell phone.
  8. Not having a big home.
  9. Not driving a big car.
  10. Not wearing costly designer clothes.
  11. Not having zero size figure (in case of females) and not having well toned muscular physique (in case of males.)

There could be other n number of reasons for feeling low self-esteem because with every day something new is coming up which determines our self-concept, it could be as simple as not having an impressive facebooks' profile picture ….:-).

Remember, the gross and subtle messages which we receive from others about personal shortcomings and not being up to the mark leaves our psyche with a deep impression of not being adequate enough. Low self-esteem doesn't happen overnight, it is a programming of our mind over a long period through different experiences. Every experience and our response and thought for a situation contributes to our self-esteem. If the outcome of the experience was negative it will give a blow to your self-esteem and a positive one will give a boost. So, your self-esteem lies with you only.

My personal experience

Writing personal experience about self-esteem is like writing an autobiography….really…my experience is so rich here. Truly and honestly speaking, I have experienced low self-esteem for a large part of my life but I persistently kept my fight very tight and finally could overcome it and proved myself a winner.

There have been so many areas in life where I experienced low self-esteem; it is difficult to decide where to start from. At different stages of life, different reasons were responsible for low self-esteem. During adolescence, my height and average looks, with average education were the strong reasons for me to feel low. It was always significant others (friends & family) in life which made me feel bad about these aspects. Their concern was that having short height and average looks will not get me a good matrimonial proposal. Going by average thinking, people ensure that everybody must follow what majority follows, so I do not think it was their fault to comment on something which is biological. Anyway, this is my current thought but in the past when my self-concept was more externally oriented such thoughts made me feel inadequate.

Let me explain for Non-Indians, in India, the task of finding life partner lies with family and the final decision to get married lies with boy and girl, this concept is called as "Arranged Marriage" rather an advanced and modern version of arranged marriages. In some cases, there is a family pressure also to get married to a particular match but in my case, this was never the case. Interestingly, my short height and average looks never caused me any issue in my career; it was only the marriage perspective which became reason for low self-esteem. By the way, just to clarify, short height is definitely not a reason of not being married; it is simply my choice to remain single until I meet my soulmate because I do not believe in forming suboptimal relationships.

Another area, which pained me, was my education. I went to a school where English speaking was not in focus, as I did my education from a Government school and not from a privately owned school which ensure that student converse only in English. In India, due to colonial rule memories, English speaking is a symbol of prestige and is a best way to keep ahead of others. Due to this, there is a big divide between English speaking people and others; in fact this is a strong reason of low self-esteem for thousands. A feeling of less than confident in speaking and constant comparison with English speaking people made me feel inadequate on several occasions. In fact, getting a good job is also a problem if one cannot speak or write good English, but by the time I was ready for job, had improved myself to a great extent. Though I can write and speak in English and have also worked in English speaking countries like UK, but I still feel there is a good scope of improvement, but definitely, it is no more a reason of feeling low self-esteem.

Additionally, in the area of education, I didn't pursue engineering and medical, in India, these are the prime professions, proven and tested for getting a good job and good life partner. Instead, I pursued diploma in software engineering and graduation with specialization, in Botany from Miranda House, Delhi University. Both these are considered as just average, and do not ensure bright future, and has lesser value in marriage market. This made many friends and family members to comment about the uncertainty and average education I am pursuing. Once again, I was made to feel inadequate and had to live with low self-esteem. Even during the job, not pursuing engineering degree, made human resource department personnel to comment on for not having a degree and therefore I was not eligible for a particular remuneration which was applicable to only degree holders.

Of lately, my choice of new career in personal development and growth has given another good reason for others to comment. Once again, a feeling of inadequacy. Initially, it was very tough to explain why this choice and not job, but my steadfastness about my choices helped me to overcome such resistance.

So, off and on, there have been reasons for feeling not adequate enough, but…………….NOW, NO more issue of low self-esteem, I have overcome all these tenaciously. At this moment, I have absolutely no grudges, spite or strain against anybody, have accepted everything as a part of growing up.

In past, whenever I was feeling low self-esteem, I always told myself that whatever choice I made, was my own; nobody ever pressed me for anything and I made choices with whatever was available and best for me and suitable to my capability at that particular point in time. Though I accepted myself but somewhere there was a need for getting accepted by others which actually pushed me to state of low self-esteem.

Now after many years (14) of job in IT (which includes working in European countries) and pursuing masters (Cyber Law and Cyber Security) and other specialized certifications, I am completely stabilized and contented individual within myself, and my inner power to support myself has become thousand fold, nothing upsets me or make me feel low because I know , majority people belongs to International School of Average Thinking and I have joined International School of Abundance Thinking (Abundance Thinkers)…:-).., so differences in thinking are normal and expected. How I feel, what I feel, is completely in my control, have no need to impress others (a boss, a boy friend or a spouse) and have no insecurity that somebody will leave me. Whosoever is in my life, it is because s/he accepts me the way I am else I am fine by myself. This freedom to feel free and to rely on self has given me infinite power to support myself. If anybody tries to change me in some subtle or gross way cannot become a part of my life, and would simply remain as a contact or just a memory which will fade with times. That does not mean I do not pay attention to what others say, it is simply that I know what is good for me and what works for me, and where I have to reach and what is the purpose of my life. I fully accept that I do have my own faults and flaws and I am working on those but this should not be any reason of feeling low.

Honestly, I do not have appropriate words to express how it feels when you feel good and accept yourself, having complete confidence in self and no insecurity of losing any relationship. When you experience high and healthy levels of self- esteem, you feel intoxicated all the time. Anyone who reaches to this point will never bother what others think or say, I feel this is a real freedom to be SELF and everybody must try to achieve it once.

Read Part III here.

Related Posts
How to enhance Self-Esteem? - Part I
How is your relationship with self?
Win the world with confidence
Face your demons - Overcoming fears

Seema Bhatnagar
, Blogger, Writer, Life Coach and Founder of Abundance Thinkers, site for personal growth and development. Empowering people in achieving and living the best of personal potential.

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