What is self-esteem? Basically, it’s how you feel about yourself. Are you confident in your abilities? Are you comfortable with where you are in life? Do you value yourself as a person and believe others value you as well?
Someone with high self-esteem can answer yes to all those questions. They are well-aware of their strengths. They are confident in the things they do well, and while they recognize their flaws, they don’t obsess over their weaknesses.
Someone with low self-esteem, on the other hand, doesn’t have faith in their abilities and may not recognize their strengths at all. They constantly think about their perceived weaknesses and often believe that others don’t value their abilities, either.
Other signs and symptoms of low self-esteem include:
Some people may begin to develop self-esteem issues as children, and these can carry over into adulthood. There are many possible causes of low self-esteem, such as bullying, unsupportive parents, teachers and other authority figures; past trauma, such as neglect or child abuse; or an obsession with weight, body image and physical appearance.
But low self-esteem can also develop from any disappointing or distressing situation. Experiences such as losing a job or going through a breakup in valued personal relationship can negatively impact a person’s self-image. Some people are able to see such problems as a normal part of life, but others blame themselves and find it hard to get over the setbacks.
Personal relationships are very important to a healthy level of self-esteem. If your relationships are strong and you receive encouragement and positive feedback, you see yourself as a valuable person and your self-esteem increases. If you receive a lot of negative feedback and criticism, you’re more likely to have a lower opinion of yourself and your self-esteem decreases.
It’s common for people with low self-esteem to struggle with substance abuse. Whether it’s an attempt to dull their pain, fit in with peers or cope with feelings of inadequacy, they seek out ways to try to feel better about themselves and often turn to drugs or alcohol for a temporary escape from their negative emotions. As this pattern continues, however, the negative effects of abusing drugs and alcohol can add to a person’s sense of failure and loss of control, driving their self-esteem even lower.
Your ability to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol can benefit greatly by improving your self-esteem. Our programs at Hope Canyon include therapies and activities that help you discover new interests, meet new people and develop new life skills that will help you feel better about yourself and your abilities. All of this can play a significant role in your recovery from substance abuse as well as co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.