The Baffling Mythology of Self-Esteem – A Psychotherapist’s Take on Increasing Confidence

March 08 00:12 2023

A seemingly simple concept of self-esteem and confidence in one’s own worth is still widely misunderstood. 

It is estimated that a staggering 85% of the world’s population is affected by low self-esteem, and there’s no surprise that it has a massive impact on the quality of life.

A study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health found that high self-esteem decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression and can positively impact attention span.

One of the founders of the Sensa app, Dainius Jakucionis, M.D., wants to shed light on the contributing factors and dispel the misconceptions surrounding self-esteem. 

Gender Identity and Self-Esteem

Regardless of the abovementioned statistics, the stereotype that women have lower self-esteem has been flowing around for decades. While the claim is not entirely false, it goes beyond gender identity.

According to Jakucionis, the idea that women are more likely to have low self-worth comes from their upbringing.

“Back in the day, girls were raised differently than boys. Usually, they were taught how to be good caretakers and supporters instead of leaders.”

Jakucionis says that this parenting model likely formed an assumption that girls are less capable of achieving career heights and being role models.

It all stems from childhood

Although the parenting model has significantly changed, a report published in the 90s by the American Psychological Association (APA) states that men and women score almost equally on standard self-esteem tests.

“Most often, low self-esteem results from insufficient encouragement, criticism, as well as physical and psychological abuse during childhood rather than gender differences,” says Jakucionis.

He states that lack of support from parents forces a child to believe they are only valuable and respectable if they perform well. 

Jakucionis notes that the trends are shifting: “Today’s generation is brought up differently – the outdated stereotypes are fading, and a child’s mental health is prioritized.”

The psychotherapist ensures that adults can improve their self-esteem no matter their upbringing – mental exercises like those provided by the Sensa app can be of great help.

Dainius Jakucionis

The Other Mysteries of Self-Image 

There’s also a belief that some traits, thinking patterns, and even self-esteem levels are predestined – whether by a star sign, Myers-Briggs personality type, or other higher power. 

Jakucionis challenges this thinking. He notes that the level of our self-esteem is not fated but instead created through self-evaluation.

“In the simplest terms, we look at ourselves, evaluate personal characteristics, and then decide if we are ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ or somewhere in between.” 

According to him, it’s past experiences that have the most influence on the perception of self-worth.

Hence, the psychotherapist also explains why changes in the present, such as new jobs or relationships, don’t actually impact self-esteem.

“The improvement is temporary. Most of the time, we just run away from ourselves and try to hide our true feelings underneath superficial happiness.”

The need for others

According to the psychotherapist, Improving self-esteem isn’t just about personal growth. 

While it’s great to work on improving one’s weaknesses, the support of others can be invaluable. 

“The more we interact with others, the more positive feedback we can receive. With encouragement from our loved ones, we start to feel more worthy.”

Social connections can alter negative mindset – staying connected grants a change of perception, leading to greater self-appreciation.

“If our loved ones perceive us as good, kind, and loving, it makes us happy, and we begin to feel better about ourselves, too,” says Jakucionis.

A Reliable Approach to Improving Self-Esteem

All myths and misconceptions aside, improving one’s self-esteem can still be complicated. Jakucionis shares some tips on how to boost self-worth with psychology-backed tips:

–  Status, income, and other factors don’t indicate self-worth. Every individual is valuable, and all that matters is being present.

–  Reliving positive experiences. Keeping a list of prideful moments can help observe personal self-esteem and actively feel the sensation of self-worth.

–  Observing and challenging negative thoughts. Being self-aware, noticing, and challenging negative thinking is the way to go. For example, the thought “I’m bad at my job” can be changed into “I could improve this aspect at my job.” 

While self-esteem can fluctuate throughout life, awareness of negative thoughts and reasoning can improve self-esteem and overall outlook in the long run.

Better Mental Health for All

The Sensa app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), one of the most commonly used and proven techniques to improve multiple mental health conditions. CBT treatment’s primary goal is to change a person’s thinking patterns. After all, these tendencies are why negative emotions and behavioral patterns occur.

Sensa is part of Kilo Health, a leading digital health and wellness company with 4+ million customers worldwide. As of 2022, it’s the second fastest-growing company in Europe on the FT 1,000 ranking. 

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