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What is Self Esteem?

Self-esteem basically refers to the question “how do you rate yourself?” What is your opinion about yourself? Which means you can either rate yourself very highly, moderately or quite lowly. It is all about the internal validation that you give yourself. How you see yourself affects all the aspects of your life from your relationships, friendships, your position at work and your career goals. A person’s self esteem or view of themselves sets the temperature for one’s life.

Where does self-esteem come from?

Self esteem runs down all the way back to our childhood. Parents are the first caregivers and providers of a child’s sense of identity. Every person desires affirmation, attention and love. A child that is surrounded by love and positive affirmation is more likely to have a healthy self-esteem. Factors such as neglect, abuse or bullying destroy someone’s self esteem. As we grow older and start to reflect on our inner wounds and destructive patterns, we may consciously begin working on improving our self esteem by making a concerted effort to understand and accept ourselves better, becoming more self compassionate and reminding ourselves of our intrinsic value. One cannot find esteem in others, achievements, places, things, success or career. Doing so is a dead-end because these things are not constant. They fluctuate. So you have to be truly self -aware and believe that you do have VALUE regardless!

Healthy vs. Low self esteem

A person with a healthy self-esteem has a very strong sense of self. They know who they are, they know their worth, they also acknowledge their weaknesses but work towards improvement rather than extreme self criticism and comparison. If there is no enemy within, the enemy without or outside can do no harm. On the other hand, a person with low self-esteem is the exact opposite. They have such a low opinion about themselves,  that they barely recognize their worth or what they bring to the table. One may be a Lamborghini but will accept the price of a RAV4 simply because they do not know their value. Some may try to hide their feelings of low self esteem with superficial qualities such as money and status, however, just one poke of criticism sends them crumbling down because they are hollow on the inside and do not have a true sense of self.

Signs of a person with low self-esteem

· Extremely sensitive to criticism or takes things very personally

· Constantly comparing themselves to others and somehow everyone else seems to be better than them.

· Needs the approval and validation of others in order to feel good about themselves.

· Very tolerant of mistreatment (they do not feel that they deserve better)

· People pleasing behavior to gain external validation.

So how does self-esteem affect productivity?

When you do not feel like you are worth anything, you will make poor choices. It affects the people that you invite and allow to stay in your life regardless of how you are being treated. For instance, at work you may accept being assigned a lesser role than you’re actually capable of, or even accept lesser pay than you deserve. Self esteem also affects the risks and chances you take towards taking your talents and career to greater heights. Low self-esteem may trap you into abusive relationships because you allow others to mistreat you and become way too tolerant of disrespect. As a result, the quality of your career and other social aspects of your life decline due to the toll that your personal life ends up taking on you.

Tips to Improve your Self-esteem

· Consciously listen to your internal conversation.

· Acknowledge and accept your strengths and weaknesses.

· Look at the areas in your life where you feel the most pain, with the most repeated patterns and make a conscious decision to work on these areas.

Tips for Increasing Productivity at Work While Battling Low Self Esteem

· Figure out your strengths are, and capitalize on them.

· Note down whenever you achieve something, people with low self-esteem have selective amnesia, they remember all the bad they did and quickly forget the good. Noting down your achievements is a good way to constantly remind yourself of what you bring to the table.

· Give yourself little challenges at work each day. Example: today I’m going to ask a question at the meeting, next time am going to make a suggestion.)

· Strategically remind others of your accomplishments and contributions to reinforce your position in the work place.

Guided Path Tanzania

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Hilda Tizeba
Written by

Hilda Tizeba

I am a lecturer and the CEO and Founder of a mental health organisation called Guided Path. I strive to eliminate stigma through education, advocacy and utilising the law to bring forth meaningful policy and legal reform in the mental health sector in Tanzania.

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