Self Esteem: Meaning and Significance

If asked to recall final exams in school, the gory pictures of anxiousness and the impending doom of results surely pop up. With every report card, we receive an evaluation of our self which negates or improves our self−image.

What is Self-Esteem?

A person's real perception of their importance or worth is referred to as self−esteem. Morris Rosenberg, a self−esteem expert, explains that self−esteem is just one's attitude toward oneself, and he defined it as having a "positive or negative attitude about oneself." Many things affect our sense of self, such as genetics, personality, experiences in life, age, health, thoughts, social environment, other people's responses, and evaluation of oneself against others. The fact that self−esteem is not stable is crucial to remember. Because it is flexible and quantifiable, we can test it and improve it. It differs from and shouldn't be confused with concepts like self−concept, self-confidence, self−efficacy, etc.


Self−esteem is sometimes described as a global barometer of self−evaluation that includes cognitive assessments of one's overall value and affective experiences connected to these assessments. Some claim that self−esteem entails an evaluation of oneself followed by an emotional response to oneself. All descriptions and concepts of self−esteem currently exist, including both the evaluative and emotive components. According to Brown, Dutton, and Cook, there are three different ways to define "self−esteem"−

  • Global or trait self−esteem is the term used to describe how individuals generally feel about themselves or feelings of love for themselves;

  • Self−evaluation is the term used to describe how people assess their various skills and traits and

  • The expression "feelings of self−esteem" describes fleeting emotional states, such as "my self−esteem was sky−high after obtaining a large promotion" or "my self−esteem collapsed following a divorce."

Webster's dictionary offers perhaps the most straightforward explanation of self−esteem, stating that "self−esteem is happiness with oneself." According to a different volume of the same glossary, self−esteem is "one's positive assessment of one's worth or dignity."


Self−esteem development requires a protracted process, and it is linked to the development of one's self−conscience and self−image. Its evolution over time includes periods of decline, particularly when transitioning from one stage to another or from one situation to another, such as during adolescence (because of psychosomatic changes) or old age as a result of retirement, a change in status, or a change in the tasks and responsibilities. Although self−esteem seems to drop during youth, it rises during the early stages of adulthood. The effective model of self−esteem formation has the following assumptions− (a) self−esteem develops early in childhood due to psychosocial and temperamental factors; and (b) once created, high self−esteem individuals possess the capacity to foster, safeguard, and restore emotions of self−worth.

Positive Effects

Self−esteem is one personality feature that can be seen as a spectrum or a bipolar element. The continuum of individual differences covers many grades and levels. Self−approval is a fundamental human need. A high self−esteem rating is a necessary condition for experiencing happiness. Self−esteem is a key factor in determining emotional well−being in studies. Compared to people with low self−esteem, those with high self−esteem report feeling happier, more optimistic, more motivated, less depressed, anxious, and in a bad mood. An increased sense of one's worth gives people the capacity to enjoy life's little pleasures, deal with difficult people and circumstances, overcome obstacles, form meaningful connections with others, and enhance their strengths.

Numerous studies have shown that people with strong self−esteem are more resilient than people with low self−esteem when they fail. People with high self−esteem also seem to better self−regulate their behavior toward goals. Self−esteem both gives people the drive to act and influences the way they behave. According to earlier studies, a person's self−esteem increases when they achieve, receive praise, or fall in love with someone. As a result, self−esteem depends on both one's own and other people's opinions of him. Self−worth is a crucial component of life success. Good individual and social adaptation greatly rely on the growth of healthy self−esteem.

Negative Effects

People who lack self−worth have feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and emotional instability, making them unhappy with their lives. Furthermore, those who scored poorly on self−esteem tended to have an overall pessimistic outlook on various subjects, such as other people and their circumstances. Depression, aggressive behavior, a lack of ability to overcome challenges, and a decline in adolescent well−being have all been associated with low self−esteem. According to a theory put out by Weber, undergrads who report experiencing emotional abuse are predicted to have poorer self−esteem than those who do not. For exclusively male participants, this theory received widespread approval.

According to the sociometer concept, people can effectively monitor how others react to them thanks to their subjectively experienced sense of self−worth, which acts as "a psychological gauge or indication." Low self−esteem is viewed as a psychological sign of social rejection. Low self−esteem could be explained by a lack of positive resources inside oneself, a persistent internal struggle, a careful and protective way of living, and confusion or doubt in one's understanding of oneself. They are vulnerable to occurrences and shifting circumstances because they lack a cohesive idea of who they are.


Self−esteem is the concept of one's perception of one's value and worth. It also has to do with how people feel about themselves, whether they feel like they are deserving of anything or not. Because it has a big impact on people's choices and decisions, self−esteem is crucial. In other words, a person's level of self−esteem determines how likely they are to take care of themselves and use all their potential. This function of self−esteem is motivating. The motivation to take care of oneself and work tirelessly to realize one's dreams and ambitions is a trait shared by persons with a high sense of self−worth.

People with low self−esteem don't think of themselves as deserving of positive outcomes or capable of obtaining them. Thus they prefer to put off critical tasks and are less tenacious and resilient in their attempts to overcome challenges. While they might have similar objectives to those with higher self−esteem, they lack the usual drive to see those objectives through. Our interactions with other people are enhanced. The tone for your interactions with others is established by having a healthy sense of self because the ability to connect profoundly with ourselves is a prerequisite for connecting deeply with others. Recovering from adversity is simpler. Studies have shown that emotional scars like exclusion and disappointment feel less painful when we have a higher sense of self. Assertiveness is aided by it. In making decisions, we frequently have more faith.


It is quintessential to have positive self−esteem as it makes it simpler for us to communicate our wants, and we're less likely to try to please other people. It supports us in advocating for ourselves. Given that we are aware that we should be treated better, we are less likely to put up with abuse or other forms of unfairness. Recognizing our strengths and learning from our failures are made possible by having a strong sense of self−worth. We endure because we don't have a crippling fear of failing and sincere self−belief.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


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