What is self-esteem? – Theories, Types, Factors and Importance

We are told that we can achieve anything if we believe in ourselves, of course we know that is false, we cannot achieve anything in the world simply through belief, if that were true, many children would fly through the skies over it. roof of your garage. However, we know that believing in yourself and accepting yourself for who you are is an important factor in success, relationships and happiness, and that self-esteem plays an important role in life, it gives us confidence in our abilities and motivation. to carry them out, and we finally realize that we deliver as we navigate life with a positive attitude.

Several studies have confirmed that self-esteem is directly related to our general well-being, and we would do well to take this fact into account, both for ourselves and for those around us, particularly the developing children with whom we interact. A realistic but positive view of yourself is generally considered the ideal.

What is self-esteem?

It reflects the general subjective emotional evaluation of an individual about his own worth, it is the decision made by an individual as an attitude towards the self. It can be said in other words that it is the concept of itself that is what we think about the self: self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluation of the self, as well as how we feel about it.

Self-esteem is attractive as a social psychological construct because researchers have conceptualized it as an influential predictor of certain outcomes, such as academic performance, happiness, satisfaction in marriage and relationships, it can be applied specifically to a particular dimension (for example, “I think I’m a good writer and I’m happy about it”) or globally (eg, “I think I’m a bad person and I feel bad about it”). Psychologists often view self-esteem as an enduring personality trait , although there are normal short-term variations as well, and it can involve a variety of beliefs about yourself, such as evaluating your own appearance, emotions, and behaviors.

Theory of self-esteem

Self-esteem has been a hot topic in psychology for decades, since psychology itself, even Freud, who many consider the founding father of psychology (although at this point he is an estranged father), had theories about self-esteem at the heart of his. job.

The need for self-esteem plays an important role in the hierarchy of needs of psychologist Abraham Maslow, who describes self-esteem as one of the basic human motivations, who suggested that people need both the esteem of other people and respect for themselves. It is important to note that self-esteem is a different concept from self-efficacy, which involves how well you think you will handle future actions, performance, or skills.

Types of self-esteem


Called  narcissism , which is a disposition that people can have and that represents an excessive love for oneself, it is characterized by an inflated vision of self-esteem, an example of this would be “If I ruled the world, it would be a much better place.” .

People with an exaggerated self-esteem think that they are better than others and have no doubts about the possibility of underestimating others, this is a very negative self-esteem, since it prevents them from establishing affectionate and healthy relationships. Their competitiveness is always present and they always want to be on top. For these people, happiness is found in the achievement of success, but the reality of the matter is that they do not achieve happiness with this attitude.

They are characterized by their inability to listen to others and to criticize themselves, they are unable to correct their own mistakes and, as such, they are constantly blaming others. In addition, they tend to underestimate others, adopting hostile behaviors towards them. It is very difficult for these people to establish healthy relationships with others, they always see everyone else as competition.


People with this type of self-esteem accept and value themselves, it is a self-esteem that is known to be positive, since it manages to make the person satisfied with their life. Does this imply that there will be no barriers or walls to climb? Absolutely not, but the confidence in yourself and the courage to face any problems that may arise make everything so much easier.

Believing in yourself and trusting who you are is what characterizes people who have this type of self-esteem and this does not make them arrogant, nor do they feel better than anyone else, they only have the necessary security to prevent negative circumstances and events from unbalancing them.

  • They don’t waste time worrying excessively about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future, they learn from the past and plan for the future, but they live intensely in the present.
  • Fully confident in their ability to solve problems, regardless of failures and difficulties, they ask others for help when they need it.
  • Resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.
  • Admit and accept different impulses, whether positive or negative, and reveal those impulses to others only when you want to.
  • You can work to find solutions and express discontent without putting yourself or others down when challenges arise.

But even among those with high self-esteem, there are people who may in fact look unbalanced, that is, they are not able to constantly maintain this high self-esteem.


People who have low self-esteem are the opposite of people with high self-esteem, because they do not value themselves, they do not trust their possibilities, and the insecurity they may feel carries over to almost all situations. The fear of failure is something that torments them and keeps people with low self-esteem, they are the model of unhappy people, they have an exaggerated fear of mistakes, they are perfectionists, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved and they are envious and resentful in general.

People with low self-esteem tend to be critical of themselves. Some rely on the approval and praise of others when assessing self-esteem, others may measure their liking in terms of successes, and still others will accept themselves if they succeed but will not do so if they fail. Read about: Low self-esteem.

Factors that can influence self-esteem

As you can imagine, there are different factors that can play a role, such as genetic factors that help shape the overall personality and play a role, but it is often our experiences that form the basis of overall self-esteem. Those who constantly receive overly critical or negative evaluations from caregivers, family and friends, for example, are likely to experience problems with low self-esteem.

Additionally, your inner thinking , age, possible illnesses, disabilities or physical limitations, and your job can affect your self-esteem.

Self-esteem and other traits

Self-esteem vs self-concept

Self-esteem is not self-concept, although it can be part of it. Self-concept is the perception we have of ourselves, our response when we ask ourselves the question “Who am I?” It is knowing your own tendencies, thoughts, preferences and habits, hobbies, abilities and areas of weakness.

According to Carl Rogers, founder of client-centered therapy , self-concept is a general construct and self-esteem is one of its components.

Autoestima vs autoimagen

Another similar term with a different meaning is self-image, as it is about how you see yourself. However, instead of being based on reality, it can be based on false and inaccurate thoughts about ourselves. Our self-image may be close to reality or far from it, but in general it is not completely in line with reality or with the way others perceive us.

Self esteem vs self confidence

Self-confidence is your ability to face challenges, solve problems, and successfully participate in the world. Relying more on external measures of success and value than internal measures that contribute to self-esteem, one may have great self-confidence, particularly in a certain area or field, but still lack a healthy sense of overall worth. or self-esteem.

Self-esteem vs self-efficacy

Similar to self-confidence, self-efficacy is also related to self-esteem, but it is not a substitute for it, as it refers to the belief in one’s ability to be successful in certain tasks, it can have a high self-efficacy when it comes to playing basketball, but low self-efficacy when it comes to being successful in math class. Unlike self-esteem, self-efficacy is more specific than global, and is based on external success rather than internal worth.

Self-esteem vs self-pity

Self-compassion focuses on how we relate to ourselves rather than how we judge or perceive ourselves. Being compassionate means that we are kind and forgiving, and that we avoid being harsh or overly critical of ourselves. Self-pity can lead to a healthy sense of self-worth, but it is not self-worth in itself.

Effects of social networks on self-esteem

Studies suggest that the use of social media has a negative impact on self-esteem. This effect is easy to understand, because humans are social creatures and need interaction with others to stay healthy and happy; however, we also use those around us as comparisons to measure and track our own progress in work, relationships, and life in general. Social networks make these comparisons easier than ever, but they give this tendency to compare.

What we see on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is not representative of real life, it is often carefully selected and painstakingly presented to give the best possible impression, we rarely see the sadness, failure and disappointment that accompany everyday human life, instead, we see a picture perfect, a timeline filled with good news and short comments on achievement and happiness.

Although this social comparison with unattainable standards is clearly a bad habit, social media is not necessarily a death sentence for your self-esteem. Moderate usage, complemented by frequent reminders that we often see only the best in others, can allow us to use social media posts for inspiration and motivation rather than an unhealthy comparison.

You don’t have to give up social media forever in order to maintain a healthy sense of self-worth. Just use it carefully and keep it in the right perspective!

Benefits of developing self-esteem with meditation

When we meditate, we cultivate our ability to let go and keep our thoughts and feelings in perspective, we learn to simply observe rather than actively participate in every little experience that pops into our head. In other words, we are “loosening the grip we have over our sense of self.”

While this may seem counterintuitive to developing and maintaining a positive sense of yourself, it is actually a great way to approach it. Through meditation, we gain the ability to become aware of our inner experiences without overly identifying with them, letting our thoughts go unnoticed without strong emotional response or judgment.

As meditation expert Andy Puddicombe points out, low self-esteem can be understood as the result of excessive self-identification, when we get too wrapped up in our sense of self, whether that focuses on the positive (I am the BEST ) or the negative (I am the WORST), we give it too much importance, we can even obsess over the self, review every little word, thought or feeling that enters our mind.

A regular meditation practice can boost your self-esteem by helping you let go of your self-concern, freeing you from being controlled by the thoughts and feelings of your own experience. When you have the ability to step back and observe an unsettling or self-critical thought, it suddenly doesn’t have as much power over you as it used to, this disidentification with the negative thoughts you have about yourself results in a less negative conversation over time. and freedom from your overly critical inner voice.

Importance of self-esteem

Self-esteem refers to a person’s beliefs about their own worth and has to do with the feelings that people experience that stem from their sense of dignity or unworthiness. Self-esteem is important because it greatly influences people’s choices and decisions. In other words, it serves a motivational role by making people more or less likely to take care of themselves and explore their full potential.

People with high self-esteem are also people who are motivated to take care of themselves and persistently strive to fulfill personal goals and aspirations. People with lower self-esteem do not tend to consider themselves worthy of happy results or capable of achieving them, so they tend to let the important things slide, to be less persistent and flexible in terms of overcoming adversity, they can have the same types of goals as people with higher self-esteem, but are generally less motivated to pursue them to completion.

Self-esteem is a somewhat abstract concept; it’s hard for someone who doesn’t have it yet to know what it would be like to have it. One way for people with lower self-esteem to begin to appreciate what it would be like to have higher is to consider how they might feel about the things in their lives that they value. For example, some people really like cars, because cars are important to them, these people take very good care of them, make good decisions about where to park the car, how often it should be repaired, and how they will drive it.

Self-esteem is like that, except that it is you who you love, care for, and are proud of. When children believe they are valuable and important, they take good care of themselves, making good decisions about themselves that enhance their value rather than breaking it down.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.