Self-esteem is the feeling of being worthy, deserving, and confident. So many women wake up every morning without that. They go through their daily activities without any joy. These women often don't take care of themselves; many times, they even place themselves in unhealthy or dangerous relationships or situations. Low self-esteem usually begins in childhood and is nurtured throughout life. There is hope out there and resources are available for women to lead a happy, worthy life.
Definition of Self-Esteem
According to Nathaniel Branden, a renowned psychotherapist best known for his work with self-esteem, self-esteem is defined as "the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness." Self-esteem can also be referred to as self-worth and self-image.
Low Self-Esteem in Women
Women are particularly vulnerable to low self-esteem. They strive to establish their place in a "man's world" in business, while at the same time trying to balance a career with family and household responsibilities. They strive to work on their physical image, feeling pressure to be thin and fit and look like a Hollywood starlet. Low self-esteem almost always starts in childhood.
Emotional Effects of Low Self-Esteem in Women
Low self-esteem combines beliefs with emotions. As a person believes she is not worthy, she experiences the emotions that those beliefs inflict. Depression, anxiety, restlessness, overeating, undereating, insomnia, lack of physical activity, perhaps even suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions come into play. A woman with low self-esteem may feel that she doesn't even deserve to live.
Physical Effects of Low Self-Esteem in Women
Low self-esteem can exert physical symptoms or conditions on the woman. As she doesn't take proper care of herself, she may not regularly visit a physician, get mammograms or pap smears, or exercise and eat healthy foods. She may become obese or anorexic. The lack of physical care can lead to undetected conditions, such as cancer, or can cause health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or malnutrition.
Effects on Relationships
A woman's low self-esteem can affect every relationship she has. She may feel unworthy as a daughter, feeling she let her parents down by not being as successful, smart, or popular as a sibling, or to the same degree that she feels her parents think she should be. As a wife, she may not feel pretty enough, thin enough, or sexually attractive enough. She may even marry someone who is mentally or physically abusive, as she feels she doesn't deserve more. As a parent herself, she may have difficulty being a strict disciplinarian. In friendships, she may not pursue any relationships, causing her to feel more isolated. She may be a pushover and be unable to say no. She may develop relationships with people who take advantage of her vulnerability.
Psychotherapy is very important to not only help a woman deal with low self-esteem, but also to uncover the reasons why she has low self-esteem. It's hard to fix a problem if you don't know what's causing it. Many times, a woman's unresolved childhood trauma (or a loved one's trauma) from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse needs to be addressed. A trained therapist and support group are of utmost importance. Learning to take care of herself physically will also help create feelings of self-worth. Exercising releases endorphins that enhance feelings of well-being and mood. Surrounding herself with positive energy--at work, at home, and in relationships--will replace negative thoughts with confidence and hope.