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Resource Category: Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is how someone values and perceives themself. It can affect a person’s ability to make decisions, assert needs, move past mistakes without unfair self-blame, practice self-kindness, and try new or difficult things. When one has low self-esteem, they may place little value on their own opinions and ideas. Instead of feeling secure, they focus on their perceived weaknesses and fear of failure, and they believe others are more capable or successful than they are. Low self-esteem can manifest itself in traits such as indecision, hypersensitivity to criticism, negative outlook, and guilt.

People with low self-esteem tend to exaggerate events as being negative. They may interpret neutral comments as  criticism. Over time, this could lead to some degree of depression and/or anxiety. In talking with someone who exhibits these kinds of tendencies, it would be useful to understand how they are negatively affecting the person’s life.

During the High Holidays, as we consider the decisions we want to make for our future, we may be bogged down by the notion of committing to them. We may even feel paralyzed by the fear of making a wrong decision. But we need to accept that while we have the potential to make a wrong decision, we also have the power to make ones that lead us in the right direction.
On Yom Kippur we must recognize the Jewish approach to reflecting on wrongdoings and not despair. We try to hold onto hope and persevere, recognizing the only way forward is to keep moving. In life we dip or sway and even move backward at times, but as long as we are moving somewhere, we are on a path toward growth.
A personal story. The concept of Betzelem Elohim—that we are each created in the image of sacred divinity and worthy of honor—has become one of my favorites, perhaps because it always eluded me in the past.