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  • Writer's pictureHannah Corrado

Misconceptions About Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the confidence we have in our worth based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. It can affect how successful we are and feel at school or work, our social relationships, and our mental and physical health. There are many misconceptions about self-esteem and how we should improve it. Let’s talk about it.

False: Self-esteem and security are easy to have as long as you have a home above your head and food on the table.

Fact: Self-esteem is learned through interactions we have with the environment and others. Some people have frequent negative interactions that cause a lack of success or rejection, which in turn makes them feel unworthy and impacts their functioning. This can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance use. 

False: Doing things you are good at will increase your self-esteem all by itself. 

Fact: We should indeed use our strengths (the things we are good at) to achieve new goals, and this makes us feel good about ourselves. However, doing the things we are familiar with is easy and comfortable, and if we only do easy and comfortable things all the time, we can’t grow and see that we can be successful and strong in uncomfortable, new areas. 

False: Introducing new things into our daily routine (such as material possessions or relationships) can improve our self-esteem. 

Fact: New things, such as a new significant other, friendship, or item, can improve mood, but they only serve as a distraction for a short period until you need something new again. If you want to improve your self-esteem and confidence, try spending time with yourself doing self-care tasks more often and reflecting on how you can grow on your own (because you can). 

False: Good self-esteem comes from achievement. 

Fact: Achievement and winning is a great feeling in the moment, but all it does is reinforce a fear of failure. Self-esteem instead comes from a place of security; of feeling comfortable enough with ourselves that we enjoy when we do win, but it’s also okay if we don’t. 

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