Fostering our Self-Esteem

Self-esteem has been one of those hotly researched topics in recent years. In our self-help era we are told that having a positive self-image is the necessary ingredient to leading a happy and successful life.

While it may be true that how we think about ourselves is directly associated with our psychological wellbeing, the big problem is our self-view is often shaped by our childhood.

This issue was sensitively explored in the Academy Award winning movie ‘Moonlight’, a brutally complex portrayal of a man’s struggles growing up poor, black and gay with a drug addicted mother.

In this intense and beautifully told story we see that no matter how strong we make ourselves or how successful we become, there is something still ‘little’ inside of us.

Our self-esteem can be dramatically affected by adverse childhood experiences. A recent study on childhood adversity examined the connection between cortisol activation and self- esteem.

The study revealed that when we suffer from low self-esteem we are much more sensitive to social feedback. As we constantly manage perceived social threats, our self-esteem system becomes overactive leading to elevated cortisol levels.

Another common strategy we employ to protect a weak sense of self is to isolate ourselves form social engagement. What the study found was socially isolated individuals had much lower levels of cortisol at waking. In healthy individuals cortisol usually peaks in the morning.

So what can we do to change how we think of ourselves?

One of the most important lessons we have to learn is not to compare ourselves to other people. This is not easy, especially if we have grown up in a harsh social or physical environment. We need to learn to find out what we’re good at and not to measure our success against other people. It’s important to know our strengths as well as our weaknesses as this helps to build a more balanced view or ourselves.

Douglas Channing



Category : Blog & Featured & Manhood & Self Esteem & Stress Reduction

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