Self-esteem includes: self-satisfaction, intimate awareness of one's worth and confidence in one's ability to perform a certain task. To value ourselves means not to question our importance and, consequently, to be able to take responsibility towards others. Respect for ourselves, for our needs, emotions, potential, helps to enter into a constructive relationship with others. If this respect is lacking (low self-esteem), the relationship with others is also profoundly conditioned. Definition of self-esteem. Self-esteem is an evaluation that the person gives of himself, it is the general opinion, the value that he attributes to himself as a person. This evaluation varies between two extremes: one positive and one negative.
People with low self-esteem have a negative view of their own worth, unconditional, pervasive and long-lasting. Those with low self-esteem experience:
- A lack of confidence in himself and in the world
- A difficulty in listening to oneself and in identifying realistic and consistent goals with one's aspirations
- The tendency to depend on others for what concerns the definition of value as a person and capabilities
- A continuous search for the consent of others, a lack of initiative and a lack of willingness to take risks
- The tendency to react on impulse
- The lack of a personal life plan
- A vulnerability to anxiety disorders and a passive behavioural style
- All of these elements can contribute to maintaining a low level of self-esteem.
On the contrary, those who have excessive self-esteem show themselves as a proud person, extremely stubborn and self-confident. As a consequence, the person is unable to see his mistakes and any alternative behaviours; in this case we speak of hypertrophic self-esteem. In extreme cases it becomes presumption, contempt for the other, superiority; all characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder or narcissism in general. It should be noted, however, that sometimes low self-esteem is masked (in an attempt to compensate for it) by contemptuous, haughty and arrogant attitudes.
Among the risk factors, environmental ones deserve particular attention:
- Episodes of neglect and / or abandonment in childhood / adolescence
- Experiences of exclusion / bullying (at home or at school)
- Belonging to minority social or ethnic groups
- Episodes of bullying / isolation / devaluation in the workplace
- Traumatic events
- Prolonged stress
Cognitive behavioural therapy involves the modification of dysfunctional beliefs about oneself, the questioning of one's beliefs, the management of anxiety, tolerance to criticism, the development of assertiveness, the acquisition of social and interpersonal skills. The cognitive behavioural psychotherapeutic intervention allows you to work on the obstacles that contribute to the development and maintenance of a good level of self-esteem: irrational fears, dysfunctional thoughts and ineffective communication style. Irrational fears (eg "I will offend someone", "I do not want to cause problems", "Others will show disapproval if I show my anger" ...) lower the level of self-esteem and negatively affect one's style of relating which becomes passive. Over time, the accumulation of dissatisfaction and frustration for failure to achieve the desired goals, which feeds low self-esteem, can lead to an impulsive manifestation of anger with an aggressive relationship modality. Both of these behaviours appear to be dysfunctional with respect to the goal of developing clear, assertive and functional relationships to achieve the objectives.