We know that one of the hardest things for a person to do is to see themselves as they are seen by others. There are two components to how we think of ourselves, and both start developing in early childhood. The first component stems from how valuable and lovable we perceive ourselves to be to others. Many believe that it’s determined by the emotional impact we think we have on the people who care for us in early childhood. And when I say “we think we have”, I’m really talking about our personal perception which is determined by so many different things: namely internal factors like personality, and external factors like family dynamics – it’s how we see the world. So our perception, coupled with our interactions with others, develops over our lifespan and makes up the first component.
The second component of self-esteem is how valuable, and worthy we believe we are. This is most often based on thing like our intelligence, our abilities, our physical characteristics, or whatever else we feel is important to being worthy. This starts being developed earlier on in a person’s life as well. Depending on your family of origin, you may have been praised and found acceptance by making good grades, or maybe you were told you were beautiful or handsome. In the same way, you may have been shamed by making bad grades, or told you were ugly or bad. All of these childhood experiences from people that we deeply desire unconditional love and acceptance from can cause us to feel worthy or unworthy.