Dr melanie fennell


What do we mean by low self-esteem’?



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What do we mean by low self-esteem’?
Self-image
Self-concept
Self-perception
Self-confidence
Self-efficacy
Self-acceptance
Self-respect
Self-worth
Self-esteem
All these words refer to aspects of the way we view ourselves, the thoughts we have about ourselves, and the value we place on ourselves as people. Each has slightly different shades of meaning.
‘Self-image’, ‘self-concept’ and ‘self-perception’ all refer to the overall picture a person has of him- or herself. These terms do not necessarily imply any judgment or evaluation of the self, but simply describe a whole range of characteristics. For example:
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National, and perhaps regional, identity (e.g. I am
English’, I come from New York’)
• Racial and cultural identity (e.g. I am black, I am
Jewish’)
• Social and professional role (e.g. I am a mother, ‘I
am a policeman’)
• Life stage (e.g. I am just thirteen, I am a grandparent Physical appearance (e.g. I am tall, I have brown eyes’)
• Likes and dislikes (e.g. I love football, I can’t stand spinach’)
• Regular activities (e.g. I play baseball, I use a computer’)
and
• Psychological qualities (e.g. I have a sense of humour, I lose my temper easily’)
‘Self-confidence’ and ‘self-efficacy’, on the other hand, refer to our sense that we can do things successfully, and perhaps to a particular standard. As one self-confident person put it, I can do things and I know I can do things. For example:
4
OVERCOMING LOW SELF
-
ESTEEM
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Specific competencies (e.g. I am good at math, ‘I
can catch a ball) Social relationships (e.g. When I meet new people, on the whole I get on well with them, I am a good listener’)
• General coping ability (e.g. If I set out to get something, I usually get it, I am a good person to turn to in a crisis’)
‘Self-acceptance’, ‘self-respect’, ‘self-worth’ and self- esteem introduce a different element. They do not simply refer to qualities we assign to ourselves, whether good or bad. Nor do they simply reflect things we believe we can or cannot do. Rather, they reflect the overall opinion we have of ourselves and the value we place on ourselves as people. Their tone maybe positive (e.g. I am good, I am worthwhile) or negative (e.g. I am bad, I am useless’).
When the tone is negative, we are talking about low self- esteem.



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