The Connection between Self-esteem & Family
The Merriam Webster Dictionary (2018) defines Self-esteem (n) as: “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.”
According to UW News the sense of Self-esteem is developed around the age of five (2018). What exactly does this mean? Our self-esteem has been influenced by our family since childhood. Children are like sponges, therefore it’s easy for them to pick up and learn certain behaviors from their parents (i.e. home environment). For instance, if a mother refers to herself in a negative way there is a slight chance that her daughter will duplicate the same behavior.
In section VI of my book, My Self Discovery Journal (2015) titled: “Who Are You Living Your Life For” I share my own personal connection with family and self-esteem. To gain a better understanding of the connection between self-esteem and family, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at this through the lens of the three ladies from different walks of life.
I’ve asked three ladies to describe their connection between self-esteem and family:
“Your family is typically the first people that you are around that can have a direct impact on how you view yourself and how others view you. For me not feeling connected or a part of my family deeply affected my self-esteem. It left me feeling unwanted, unworthy, and insignificant growing up. As I got older I realized that even though family and self-esteem are connected I have a responsibility to do the work to build my own self esteem. I also had the responsibility to address those issues and negative thoughts that I had told myself that my family felt about me. I came to the realization that a lot of my family suffered from low self-esteem and they didn’t know how to build up a child’s self- esteem because they hadn’t built up their own. I made an intentional decision to break the cycle. Once I did the work I was able to reap the benefits of having a positive connection between my self-esteem and family. I fell in love with every part of me which in turn led me to love, understand and appreciate everything about my family.”
-Anonymous Lady #1
“Profound! Your family is your initial point of reference upon entry in the world. Infact, specialists have even argued it really starts in the womb. I whole heartedly believe that your self concept is influenced by your home environment. This is where a rich supply of security, affection, and attention is initiated that helps one to walk through the world feeling that they are valuable. When that doesn't happen, we convince ourselves that we are not worthy of love and a spirit of abandonment/rejection grips us. As a result, we accumulate these "holes" inside of us as we navigate through the world trying to discover who we are. Hence, we become what I've heard someone refer to as "leaking" individuals. We leak our abandonment\rejection issues as we struggle to find our place or voice in the world. We view many instances through the lenses of rejection. For ex: (and this is a personal example), If my daughter who have shown me in many ways, that she loves me and that I have her support, postpones a lunch date, especially because she wants to do something with someone else, I automatically go to my place of rejection reasoning, and tell my self I'm not important to her, and that I'm not worthy of her time. It then catapults in a bowed down posture which if I'm not careful, leaks into my relationship with her, and even my relationship with her brothers; because now I've convinced myself I'm not worthy of love from any of my children and husband. I am continuing to seek out ways to pull myself out of this pit. One of the tools I've discovered that's beneficial for me is "self talk". In the instance I referenced earlier, I tell myself (and I mean literally), I say to myself, think of ALL the other times your daughter have extended herself to you; the many times she's shown you the importance of your presence in her life. If this time she can't do the lunch date, even, if it's because she wants to meet up with her girlfriend, then give her permission to change her mind, without taking her down the "guilt" road trip. I find, once I gather the courage to have these conversations with myself, I'm able to back pedal myself back. I continue to be a work in progress and am learning that I can no longer use what I was denied as a child, to determine or derail the rest of my life/relationships. Ultimately, I am now responsible for how I see myself which then dictates how the world sees me.”
-Anonymous Lady #2
“I would say that self-esteem and family had a positive correlation for me. Meaning that I have high self-esteem because my family dynamic was always encouraging, Loving, and would provide me with positive affirmations even when I doubted myself. Even when certain things/choice in life may have caused me to feel like my self-worth is less than it actually is or made my self-esteem lower, I still had that foundation my family had embedded in me, psychologically, to lean back on. They also built my self-esteem off of the word of Christ, as well. Which is the best self esteem builder because just like my family God is always encouraging us saying he loves us, how He would leave the 99 for the one, how we are fearfully and wonderfully made among other things.”
-Anonymous Lady #3
Based on these responses we can see that each individual discussed some level of connection between their self-esteem and family. Anonymous Lady # 1 mentioned that she noticed a lack of self-esteem in some of her family members and wanted to break the cycle by finding ways to increase her self-esteem. She took responsibility.
As women, its important that we continuously nurture our self-esteem regardless of the positive or negative connection we receive from our family. While it is true that there is a connection between self-esteem and family, it is still our responsibility to take care of ourselves- emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
How would you describe your connection with self-esteem and family?