Self-esteem is a judgment about our personal value--the degree to which we believe ourselves to be worthwhile. It has a major impact on our feelings and behavior.
Our self-concept is what we think about ourselves, how we see ourselves. It includes both positive and negative things. It is our answer to the question, who am I? Our self-concept includes the many roles we play, such as parent, spouse, family member, friend, professional; our characteristics and qualities such as personality, intelligence, skills, appearance, interests, and our values.
Self-esteem is related to self-concept. If we like most of what we see in ourselves, we will have a high level of self-esteem. If we don’t like most of what we see in ourselves, our self-esteem will be low.
We can improve our self-esteem by doing things to improve our self-concept. We can develop different interests and skills that we are proud of--for example, cooking, crafts, computer skills, photography, carpentry and many more. In order to develop these skills it does not have to cost a lot of money. There are plenty of community education classes or a local community college, YMCA or your local gyms. The other way is to just experiment and try things out on our own!
Low self-esteem is based on the belief that we lack worth. This belief presents itself most clearly in the things that we say to ourselves, or self-talk. The exact/precise words may be different for everyone; however, people with low self-esteem tend to make negative generalizations about themselves. For example, "I’m not worthy", "I’m useless", "I’m bad", "I’m no good." These damaging thoughts are based on faulty reasoning.
Most times, we do not pay attention to our self-talk. However, when we are upset, it is important to pay close attention to our self-talk to find errors in our thinking, change our self-talk, and improve our self-esteem, feelings and behavior. This process is known as disputing or challenging our self-talk. Essentially, we question what we are thinking. We evaluate whether the facts support our beliefs.