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I'm really curious about the development of self-esteem and what influences it during childhood development. During my lifetime, I've met people who are very attractive but have low-self esteem because of certain experiences. Yet I've also met others who are nothing special in the looks department but seem to enjoy life and feel good about themselves non the less. I've always had very low self-esteem and it has tremendously affected my happiness and my ability to connect with others and form relationships. I believe it's mainly because of my childhood where my parents were very critical of me in every aspect of my life and also because of my personality type which is often extremely hard on themselves.
So my main question to you guys is - what do you believe affects someone's self esteem most? Personally I believe it's their family life and relationships with parents but I do think there are other factors involved
 

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All aboard the nature vs. nurture discussion!

Yes, external environment certainly plays a huge role in personality development, but your genes also play in intricate role as well. In a well-known study by researchers at Edinburgh University, they demonstrated that identical twins were twice as likely as non-identical twins to share the same personality traits, suggesting that genes do play a significant role in behavior. The personality traits they studied had to do with a person's sense of self-control their sense of purpose, as well as social and learning behavior.

In a similar sense we can hypothesize that self-esteem can be traced back to genetic roots (and I'm almost 100% positive there have been studies on this, but I'm currently too lazy to look it up right now), and perhaps your family also suffers (or suffered) from the same issues?
 
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I think past experiences with anybody affect our self esteem. Any time someone does something to genuinely boost our confidence/self esteem, our "self esteem meter" goes up based on how much we value what was done and who did it. The same can be said for when someone does something that lowers our confidence/self esteem. Then in any given moment, the self esteem we have is simply how full our meter is at that point in time. I feel like this "self esteem meter" slowly drifts toward the middle as time goes on, though. So if we have low self esteem, it will gradually get higher if nothing continues to lower our self-esteem.

I think certain personality types might be prone to having lower self esteem because they may just naturally have more instances where people do things that lower their self esteem meter. For instance, introverts are typically quiet, and quiet people are typically the ones who get bullied. Therefore, introverts may tend to have lower self-esteem in school.

Also, (just a theory) people with introverted intuition or extraverted feeling may pick up on things that people say or do that unintentionally lower their self esteem meter. For example, if someone is hiding that they really do not like you, you may pick that up even if they don't say it, and it could lower your self esteem. A bunch of little things you pick up like this could really add up to a low self esteem.

Did any of that make sense? :laughing:
 

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That's a really good question to ask, but a really difficult one to answer. You can make a case for virtually anything and everything. Hell, even telling someone they're attractive or intelligent can potentially wreck havoc on their self esteem as it creates a point of comparison or a bar they may feel they need to continually reach. In general, I think many self esteem related issues draw back to comparisons and expectations -- this can be found in virtually any setting.

That said, I think there's a difference between people who are concerned with how they behave vs how they look. Some struggle with both, but there are people who spend too long getting ready vs the person that has trouble engaging with others as they are worried about saying the wrong things or being misunderstood. Expanding this further, then you have to compare the two genders... personally, I think women grow up in an entirely different world from men.

Hrm... so how do people become self assured? Well, some act it out in an almost rebellious manner (fake it until you make it). Others have found a secret to being able to praise the traits of others without simultaneously bringing themselves down. Some are more distracted or inspired by a goal that essentially limits their minds ability to dwell on seemingly trivial matters. Alternatively, some have found either a group of people or a singular person that constantly supports them, accepts them, and counteracts any self defeating thoughts -- I think this is probably the best prescription for it.
 
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This post really helped me, especially the part about how specific personality types are more vulnerable to self-esteem issues. I think this especially applies to us INFJs since we have really strong intuition and we can often read people's hidden motives and thoughts (often negative ones) that can affect our self esteem since we can almost instantly know how they see us and what they think of us. On top of this, we are naturally sensitive so that doesn't help matters either :p
 

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This post really helped me, especially the part about how specific personality types are more vulnerable to self-esteem issues. I think this especially applies to us INFJs since we have really strong intuition and we can often read people's hidden motives and thoughts (often negative ones) that can affect our self esteem since we can almost instantly know how they see us and what they think of us. On top of this, we are naturally sensitive so that doesn't help matters either :p
I can relate, it's hard to move forward with someone in any kind of relationship once you get contempt or manipulative behaviour
 

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For me personally, a lot of my self esteem came from a lot of self doubt. Getting picked on a lot being the fat kid really hindered my self esteem I think too. All of the adults in my life (parents, family members, teachers, ect) looking back on it saw my intellectual abilities and natural intuition very early and tried to convince me that I have a lot of potential even when I didn't see it.

I'll be honest, some of it was just laziness on my part, but a large chunk of why I didn't accomplish anything and had low self esteem was from my intense fear of failure. It really froze me and prevented me from even attempting to succeed.

Somehow, I decided to join the Army when I was 19. Although looking back, things like boot camp weren't really that hard, but at the time seemed insurmountable. I couldn't run fast enough, couldn't do enough push-ups, couldn't shoot as straight as I needed to. But instead of running away from failure like I used to do, I had great Drill SGT's who didn't feel sorry for me or give me sympathy, but instead just looked at me and said, "you failed, now what are you gonna do?"

Once I got over that fear of failure not just in the Army, but in life, things have gotten a lot easier. I don't really know about the whole nature/nurture aspect, but in my opinion for the most part you just have to make mistakes. Make an idiot of yourself in a social situation, say the wrong thing to the girl you like, reach too far in a goal and fail. I've learned 100x more about myself from the times I've failed than from times I've succeeded (as clichéd as that sounds) Even though I'm leaving the Army soon, I owe a lot to it.
 

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Fundamental areas: ability acknowledgement, physical or mental aptitudes, basic needs being accepted and valued, socialisation, personality, accentricities, looks, coping abilities and emotional validation with any one of these (no doubt many more too) influencing self esteem and internal resources i.e. external validation required versus self assurance contained from within.
 

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Parental influence is going to affect a child more than anything. Abuse and neglect will destroy a kid's self worth. Support and encouragement will bolster and strengthen their self worth.

And you might think "well, so and so lost their parents at an early age and they turned out fine". I'd be willing to bet that person had a parental figure that supported and encouraged them. It could be an actual guardian. Or it could be a teacher or coach or some other kind of mentor.
 

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Being bullied/teased as a child, missed/lost opportunities, one's personality, timidity/shyness, addictions (low self-esteem can also cause addictions), childhood environment. When it comes to figuring out why someone's the way they are, it's always a combination of their genes and environment. Both of them work together in shaping someone. It's never either one or the other.
 

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This post really helped me, especially the part about how specific personality types are more vulnerable to self-esteem issues. I think this especially applies to us INFJs since we have really strong intuition and we can often read people's hidden motives and thoughts (often negative ones) that can affect our self esteem since we can almost instantly know how they see us and what they think of us. On top of this, we are naturally sensitive so that doesn't help matters either :p
I can relate to that on some level and on the other I can't. I know instantly when people disapprove of me but that doesn't automatically mean that it's going to affect me. If I value their judgement than yes, to an extent. But than I would probably start to wonder what their displeasure with me says about them rather than take it as a sign that there must be something wrong with me. Like maybe they have a bad day or they dislike certain way of behaving or certain looks. It would not be an automatic blow to my self esteem. I don't know if it makes any sense, hard to explain. I'm my own harshest critic, opinions of others are secondary.

I think upbringing has an important part to play. My parents were quite critical but at the same time they would always give praise when it was due. Same with teachers, critical with high expectations but I always knew when I did something right.
 

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Everyone has talked about social environment and genetics. I'll talk from a different paradigm...

IMO and IME factors which affect self esteem/confidence:

Self talk - The tone, focus and content.

Imagery - The 'movie' we play in your minds affects our self image and confidence.

Body language - How we communicate, move and stand affects our sense of confidence.

Arousal regulation - When we feel an abundance of fear, or experience overwhelm we tend to lose our sense of confidence.

Goal setting - Perceiving evidence that we are moving towards our objectives gives us a sense of trust in our own potential, abilities, and effort. Which increases our sense of confidence.

(Basic sports psychology principles, which Paul Mckenna and Richard Bandler are fond of working with.)

 
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