There are two types of low self-esteem I have discovered from research and examinations, and I will explain them to you here. But before then, let’s make sure we are on the same page about what low self-esteem is.
What Is Low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem is a belief a person has about themselves that they lack value or anything to contribute. It causes insecurity and makes the individual uncomfortable when they are in any situation that they think will test their value or depend on their importance to do well.
Within the mind of a person with low self-esteem is a deep-seated belief that they are not good enough or don’t possess what people want. Low self-esteem is not a feeling; it is a belief or a mindset.
If you have low self-esteem, although, on the surface, you might think you are alright, deep within you there is a belief that something about you is not what people want.
The Nature of Low Self-Esteem
There is no low self-esteem in isolation. If you were the only one in a place and don’t have the thought of anyone ever coming or seeing you, you cannot have low self-esteem because low self-esteem has to do with your sense of contribution to others or the environment in comparison to others.
Before a person can develop low self-esteem, they must have had several experiences that have caused them to judge their perceived importance or neededness to life, and conclude it isn’t much.
This happens especially in childhood because that is where the strongest and long-lasting perceptions we have about ourselves are formed. For example, a child who constantly faces rejection from his peers in school will grow up to believe he’s a person to be rejected because of something about him that isn’t all right.
Although it could just be that his friends have their own internal crisis that made them reject him, he would grow up with the belief that something about him is not alright and so he will always be rejected.
The biggest challenge about low self-esteem is that it is a belief and before beliefs are formed, the individual must have had several proofs supporting the fact that they aren’t worthy and must get more than enough proof negating that fact to stop believing it.
Think about someone trying to convince you at this age that you are of the opposite sex. You won’t believe it because you have more than enough proof already to confirm your sex to you. That’s the same way it is with your self-esteem.
Secondly, the nature of beliefs is that once you deeply believe a thing, you will naturally see proofs that support what you believe than you will see negating it. This means once you believe you’re not needed or you are unimportant, you will continue to count every other rejection you face as proof that you are truly not important, thereby strengthening that belief.
On the other hand, any sense of importance or acceptance you receive will be counted as the person’s lack of understanding of who you are— one who’s to be rejected.
Because of this, the only true and lasting cure to low self-esteem is to change the belief that has been developed in your subconscious mind that you are not lovable or capable.
Although generally, low self-esteem is a belief that a person has that they are not important, valuable, or needed, it can be categorized into two types.
2 Types Of Low Self-esteem
The first type of low self-esteem is the individual who believes I don’t have anything to offer, while the second is the individual who believes people will not appreciate what I have to offer. These two types of self-esteem differ in their manifestation, effects, and cure.
1. I don’t have anything to offer
This is the most severe and difficult type of low self-esteem to cure. People with this belief are the ones mostly considered to have low self-esteem because it is visible through their actions and words. They are naturally drawn back and uninvolved in activities. They do a lot of negative self-talk and always sideline themselves from social engagements.
They are fully convinced that nobody can appreciate them because they don’t have what to offer and they are only comfortable around people who can convince them that they are not expected to offer anything.
This does not mean that people with this type of low self-esteem do not get engaged in anything. They do, but they do it expecting that it is not worth anything. They don’t take their words seriously and they don’t expect anyone to take them seriously.
Also, the degree to which this belief is rooted in the person’s heart will determine the degree to which these manifestations will evolve. Just like all types of low self-esteem, it is only present when the individual is in a social situation or mindful of a social context.
That is, the individual does not constantly think all day that they are valueless, but whenever they perceive a situation that they must be of value or give input, that belief turns on again and reminds them that they are not valuable. This is however not true.
People with this type of low self-esteem actually have something to offer which they are aware of, but because of experiences they have had in the past, they now believe that everything that comes from them is just nothing and because they no longer appreciate their value, they wouldn’t work on improving it or making it more valuable.
These people are mostly found in the fourth quadrant of the Self-Esteem Work Output Board. They avoid getting engaged because they don’t believe in themselves, or they believe in themselves not to bring forth anything valuable.
In the long run, because they continue to take actions and say words that communicate their perceived lack of value in themselves, people begin to see them that way too and it strengthens their conviction even more that they aren’t needed, and the vicious cycle continues.
2. People will not appreciate what I have to offer
This set of people have taken a step further to identify that they are valuable and even identify certain valuable things they can contribute. But like the first type of low self-esteem, they have gone through several experiences that have made them believe that people will not appreciate their value.
They are willing to contribute but are afraid of rejection. I think there are many more people with this type of low self-esteem than the first because these people can actually, and usually produce high-quality work and are admired by others, but they constantly have this subtle feeling that something might not go well.
People with this type of low self-esteem can easily talk themselves into being confident for some time before that deep-rooted belief comes up again. They also have negative self-talks but not as much as the first and also will naturally sideline themselves from social engagements especially when it’s highly needed.
Because these people believe they have something to offer, they usually get engaged in some things and stay committed to it but they wouldn’t be the first to show their work even though they think it is good.
The central thought in the mind of one with this type of low self-esteem is, people might not like me because I’m not people’s taste.
They also tend to take actions or say words that communicate their belief that people will not like them but they do this to get affirmation and to be sure that the person values them. They will hide their work, show it a little, hide it again until someone says, “this is great!” then they will confidently bring it out. But soon, they need more affirmations again to continue showing their work.
They strongly believe that people will not appreciate them although they are valuable. So they are always careful, expecting people to show that they do not appreciate them.
They are usually found in the second quadrant of the Self-Esteem Work Output Board. They work all their lives out to make their value “good enough” to be appreciated.
PS: There are certain peculiarities to the manifestations of these two types of self-esteem. For instance, some people’s sense of lack of worth can be only in social settings while they have a sense of worth in their career and other areas, and vice versa.
The Cure For Low Self-esteem
The major difference in the cure for the two types of low self-esteem is where the treatment starts. For the one who thinks they don’t have anything to contribute, the treatment starts and stays long with identifying what they have to offer and convincing themselves that it is worth offering. Then, they can continue the remaining process.
For the one who thinks people won’t appreciate what they have to offer, the bulk of the work is in overcoming their need for external affirmations and becoming secure in their sense of worth. They already know they are good, so they just need to get convinced that their good is good enough.
Apart from this, the treatment that sets free from low self-esteem is the same. If you have identified yourself as having any of these, next in the series of self-esteem is
Olusegun Iyejare is career coach and certified counsellor. He helps entrepreneurs balance mental wellbeing and entrepreneurial success. Think about maximizing your potential or living a fulfilling life and Olusegun is your go to person.