What Is Self-Esteem and Why Does It Matter?

what is self esteem

How do you feel about yourself? What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror? Both of these things have a lot to do with the question, “what is self-esteem?”

People can have high self-esteem, low self-esteem, or healthy self-esteem. Keep reading if you're curious about where you fall on the scale.

Exactly What Is Self-Esteem?

To understand your self-esteem, you need to know what it is.

Self-esteem is your view of yourself, what you're worth, and your value. It's how you see yourself, sometimes affected by how you think other people see you (though this perception isn't always factual).  It’s basically a scale of how much you like yourself.

Self-esteem is considered a personality trait. While self-esteem levels can fluctuate, it's normally a stable feeling. People with healthy self-esteem maintain a healthy view of themselves, for the most part.

What creates and affects your self-esteem, aside from what you believe other people think about you (which is part of self-concept), includes your own beliefs about who and what you are. You may judge yourself based on your appearance, your emotions, and your common behaviors.

What is self-concept? It's a view of yourself based on a combination of how you see yourself and how others see you. Self-concept isn't always the best view of a person since other people's views of you are not always actual reflections of who you are, but instead are mirrors of themselves.

Determining Your Self-Worth

The act of measuring your self-worth isn't always a healthy thing. Every human being has worth, although far too many think they are worthless.

Some of the things people use to judge their self-worth include appearance, money, acquaintances and friends,  career, and success. Of course, everyone knows that each of these things is viewed differently by different people – what is success and riches to one person may look like the poor house to another.

Someone that sees themselves as a good person, good looking, feels happy and successful has positive self- esteem. What is low self-esteem? That's when someone isn't comfortable in their own skin, or maybe they're not satisfied with their relationships or job choices.

People with higher confidences have more respect for themselves usually. Respect synonym – esteem, admiration, appreciation – these all show a person that feels good about themselves and content in their lives and the choices they've made.

1. Appearance

Someone that is happy in their own skin and unconcerned with looks has healthy self-esteem. They may smile at themselves when they look in the mirror, but they don't spend all day looking in the mirror either.

People with low self-esteem might not want to look in the mirror. They are not always, but often, unhappy with what they see. It could be something about their weight, their hair, their skin, or even the shape of their nose.

2. Money

When you don't have enough money to pay your bills and can make you a bit down on yourself. Many people judge themselves, and sometimes others, on the amount of money they have in their pockets or the size of their homes and types of cars they drive.

3. Relationships

From platonic friends to the person you spend your life with, there's a chance you're judging yourself (and being judged) by the type of people you hang out with.

4. Career and Success

One person may find happiness in a career slinging fast food, and see the fact that they have a paycheck and a roof over their heads as being successful. To someone else, not having a four-digit income each year spells complete disaster, and it makes them feel worthless.

Looking at the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

If you aren't sure where you are on the confidence scale, you can take a test like the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. This is a scale that was developed by a sociologist named Dr. Morris Rosenberg, which is used to determine a person's self-esteem.

You can find versions of this test online, and answer the presented questions with a scale of “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” With ten questions you will be rated 0 to 30 points. The lower the points, the lower your self-esteem, with 15-25 being the normal, healthy, range.

The Negatives of High Self-Esteem

Narcissism and self-esteem are not synonymous with one another. A narcissist can have high self-esteem or low self-esteem.

While they may seem similar, there are differences. They want others to see them as “royalty,” so to speak. Someone with high self-esteem is happy with themselves no matter what others think of them.

That doesn't mean having high self-esteem is always a good thing. That also doesn't mean someone that thinks highly of themselves and has healthy self-esteem couldn't be a narcissist either.

Where Are You on the Scale?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is self-esteem?” You can take the test above to figure out where you rate when it comes to self-esteem.

What can you do to improve low self-esteem? Do you need any improvements? Do you have positive self-esteem? You may be surprised at your results.

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