Self-esteem is a way of describing how you view yourself and your place in the world. Having healthy self-esteem tends to mean that you believe you have value - that you matter as a person, your needs and feelings matter, and that other people recognise this too.
Having low self-esteem can mean believing that you don’t have much value - that you aren’t important, you don’t have much to offer, and that others view you accordingly.
Your self-esteem affects both how you think about yourself and the kinds of emotions you experience on a day to day basis. Someone with high self-esteem is generally more likely to experience positive emotions like confidence, happiness, contentment and calmness.
They may feel more comfortable living their lives, because they feel secure in who they are and what they deserve. They may also feel more optimistic about the future - having faith that good things may happen to them.
Someone with low self-esteem is more likely to experience emotions like shame, doubt, uncertainty, anxiety or embarrassment. They may find it difficult to go about their daily lives because they don’t have a positive view of themselves or what they’re capable of.
This can, counter-intuitively, result in behaviours that might seem arrogant or overconfident, which are sometimes deployed as ways of compensating for feelings of weakness or uselessness.
Your self-esteem can have a lot of effects on your relationships with others, including your romantic relationships. Having high self-esteem and loving yourself can make it much easier to have positive, loving connections with other people.
Because they feel more secure in themselves, someone with high self-esteem is more likely to be open with their feelings, manage conflict more constructively and feel trusting towards people. They are also likely to have a strong sense of their own independence - and not become too dependent on the attention or approval of others.
People with low self-esteem may struggle with expressing their needs, instead keeping them inside until they create resentment or cause them to act out in other ways. They may also struggle with the conflicts that can be part of any relationship - taking any criticism to heart, or overcompensating and lashing out.
If you think your self-esteem may be affecting your relationships, you may like to take our quiz. It will help you think about any ways in which this might be happening, as well as ways in which your self-esteem could be affecting you more generally.