How do we assess our self-esteem?
One of the consequences of having low self-esteem is not wanting to put ourselves in strange situations.
So going to a professional and asking for a ‘self-esteem test’ is just not something we would be likely to do. The benefit of the internet is that we can now easily find information about self-esteem, and ways of assessing or measuring our own.
If we start to feel reluctant to do things, and feel we are beginning to have lots of negative thoughts about ourselves then this is a sign that something is wrong. When we avoid starting things we know we have to do, and when we begin to think we don’t deserve to be loved, and are less important than those around us, we should be thinking about assessing our self-esteem.
Visit the World Wide Web, and we can find tests for children, tests for women, and general tests. They all vary slightly, and there are free tests and tests you pay for. Generally the free ones give you a score, and a brief indication of the areas in which your self-esteem could do with boosting
On the other hand you can sign up and pay for a much more detailed assessment of your self-esteem, and suggestions for ways to use positive thinking, positive affirmations and positive attitudes to improve your self-esteem and to help you develop self-confidence and the ability to face new experiences and challenges with a smile.
It is important however to recognize that in some instances it is best to find a recommended professional, rather than use internet tests. For example, if you feel that your child or younger brother or sister have low self-esteem and it is affecting them in a serious way, you should talk to someone with professional training, or an adult in whom you have trust, like a teacher.
For children the development of self-esteem begins at an early age, and the way they feel can vary from one stage of development to another, depending on the circumstances of their lives.
For children with seriously low self-esteem, getting the right help is very important. For parents of children with low self-esteem it is very important to consider how our own behavior can influence their self-regard.
Children feel reassured by parents who are calm, warm and loving. It is important to give children reassurance that helps them open up and explain how they feel.
It is important to be sensitive when children feel they are not succeeding. Telling them how proud you are of their efforts, how much you think they have achieved, is better than telling them they will surely get in the team ‘next’ time, or pass the exam ‘next time’.
Children will be facing lots of different ‘new’ experiences of course and should have realistic expectations of their achievement. No child is going to win everything or be top at everything. Most of us don’t get to be top at anything. Most of us are just regular people.
Doing something to the best of our ability is what most of us aim for. Success in life is not about being ‘the best’. Success is about all sorts of things.
Children need to know they are succeeding, so need to know about all the ways in which they can succeed.
It is always a good idea to praise children when they show that they are:
Being good friends to other children
Learning to value themselves and others
Helping younger children as mentors
Putting all their effort into new challenges
Learning how to treat other people well
Learning how to deal with coming second or third, or twenty third
Learning the difference between good behavior and bad behavior
Being able to deal with criticism
If children have low self-esteem it can be hard for them to explain how they feel. This can be very difficult if they already feel they are failing, and not as good or clever as their friends. Gentle support will help children feel comfortable enough to tell you how they feel.
For adults there are a range of self-tests available on the internet that can help us assess our level of self-esteem. There are also some for older children which are worded in a way that children will feel comfortable with.
But we can ask some simple questions like…..
Do you feel comfortable trying new things and meeting new people?
Do you think you are generally liked?
Do you think you have the respect of your work colleagues?
Do you feel happy most of the time?
Do you look forward to new challenges?
Do you value your own opinion?
If you answer yes to these questions you probably don’t have low self-esteem. However if you think you have low self-esteem, you might want to find out more.
Sometime it helps just to read about self-esteem and think about how feel about what we have read. We may feel that although we don’t have the ‘optimum’ level of self-esteem, we are reasonably self-confident and just need to have a bit of a tinker with some of our attitudes and feelings.
For example, an understanding of how our level of self-esteem is formed can give us a better feel for our level of esteem. Our experiences with our family and other people as we are growing up will be very instrumental in developing our self-esteem.
If we are treated well, kindly and fairly by our parents, teachers and peers, we are more likely to have a healthy level of self-esteem. However if we are treated badly, and we believe unfairly, it is more likely that our self-esteem will be low. Regular criticism, being told we are ‘useless’ ‘stupid’ etc., being constantly being reminded of our failings – these are likely to damage our self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can result if we are generally told we are ‘useless’ or ‘stupid’. If we are shouted at, or ignored, or made to feel we are in the way, or not really wanted – these attitudes are damaging to self-esteem.
On the other hand, if we experience a kind and understanding reaction to an exam failure, or not getting a certain job or onto the netball or football team, we may from an early age understand that one exam failure doesn’t mean we are failures as people.
Supportive and loving parents, and others who keep things in a sensible perspective, will help us develop a good and healthy level of self-esteem. These people will want us to feel good about ourselves. They won’t want us to have negative feelings about ourselves, and they won’t want us to be full of ourselves either.
Sadly, many people who suffer from low self-esteem find it hard to develop good communication skills. For their children this can be devastating, and serves to pass down to the next generation the same difficulties and concerns they have themselves.
If we can learn from this, we can see that the way those who have hurt us have behaved reflects more on themselves than it does on us. They don’t want to hurt us, but don’t know how to behave differently.
Learning that self-esteem is itself a ‘learned’ behavior is important in helping us to change our view of ourselves. If something is learned, it can often be unlearned.
If we can learn how to value ourselves more fairly, we can influence our future behavior, our future life chances. Perhaps most importantly, we can learn how to behave better with our own children or other youngsters in order to improve their life chances too.
We are complex individuals, and have individual abilities, characteristics, skills and mannerisms.
Winning at sport, succeeding in exams, being talented in music, art or languages are examples of things we aspire to, and areas in which we will inevitably have to compete with others
Our value as individuals is not defined by any one of these achievements or indeed by any one thing at all. So not being in the top 10 of the class at French, or not being chosen for the football team, is no reason to feel a failure.
Having a girl friend or boyfriend is not essential for happiness either. If we evaluate ourselves that way, we are failing to understand that self-worth, and how others see us is about our self-perception and behavior, how we deal with the ups and downs of life, and how we behave with other people.
If we are able to say for example:-
“I really tried my best, but am not likely to be in the Olympic swimming team”
“I can see that my friend John gets on really well with my other friend James, this doesn’t mean that they don’t like me.”
This shows a rational reaction. This shows to other people that you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. It shows that you can be understanding and not resentful of others. It also shows that you can be self-deprecating.
This is quite different from self-pity as it does not require people to respond by saying ‘oh you mustn’t worry – you will find something else you are good at – don’t upset yourself. Self-deprecation is normally a sign of healthy modesty, but with humor!
If however we say:-
“Oh I am such a complete failure, I never succeed at anything, I don’t know why I bother to try.”
“No-one really cares about me, and I don’t blame them, the other kids are much more interesting.”
“I quite see why I don’t have a partner, I wouldn’t want to go out with me.”
These statements show a low level of self-confidence and self-esteem. We can however learn to deal with situations differently. We have to begin to see that feeling negative about ourselves is catching, and we really don’t want other people to think badly of us.
So we have to develop strategies for thinking in a positive way. For example:-
“I don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend at the moment, so I can really put lots of time and energy into my music.”
“Two of my friends get on really well, which is great to see”.
“I am not an astounding success, but I really do enjoy having a go at something new”.