Your self-esteem determines how you interpret the world.

Your self-esteem affects the way you perceive the world around you. If you have low self-esteem, chances are you interpret many things in a negative way. . Remember that nice conversation you had with your fellow student the other day? All those other difficult conversations, on the other hand, must be proof of your own incompetence, right? Thoughts like these are annoying, make you feel bad about yourself, and can cause you to isolate yourself more and more. There’s no need to explain why you should try to avoid that. What’s interesting, however, is that such a single event (like that conversation) can have a completely different effect on you, depending on your level of self-esteem.

The difference between self-esteem, self-image, and self-confidence

Before we dive deeper into the topic of self-esteem, it is important to clarify the difference between self-esteem, self-image, and self-confidence: Your self-image includes everything you know about yourself and is factual/objective in nature. For example, you see yourself as a student, blonde-haired, creative or social. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is about the degree to which you are satisfied with your self-image. It expresses whether or not you feel of value. Then there is self-confidence, which refers to the degree to which you are convinced that you can handle all kinds of situations.

Why does having little self-esteem feel so uncomfortable?

The sociometer theory of leading psychologists Mark Leary and Roy Baumeister provides an explanation as to why having little self-esteem feels so uncomfortable to us. Due to the fact that people are naturally driven to connect with others, Leary and Baumeister argue that as an individual you try to estimate the degree to which you are accepted. Self-esteem is a pillar for acceptance, as it reflects the extent to which you find yourself acceptable. . We pursue a high level of self-esteem because we want to be accepted. In other words, you could consider your self-esteem as an alarm or motivator that helps you to avoid falling out of the group.

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Did you know…

... that research shows that self-esteem and self-confidence impact your level of resilience? By working on your self-esteem and self-confidence, you also increase your ability to deal with negative events.

… that in the field of psychology a distinction is made between two types of self-esteem: implicit self-esteem, which is unconscious, and explicit self-esteem, of which you are aware. It is striking that these do not always correspond. For example, people with a low implicit self-esteem and a high explicit self-esteem are inclined to respond defensively.

… that people with a negative self-image are objectively very similar to those with a positive self-image? However, they differ in the degree to which they consider themselves worthy. People who suffer from negative self-esteem often think that they underperform or aren’t worth a single penny. They have trouble finding themselves worthy without having set certain personal conditions they must meet themselves first.

Get more self-esteem? How?

you are just as worthy as any other person. You might not be convinced of it yet, but Believing you are not, makes you your own worst enemy. Therefore, the challenge you’re facing is changing the way you view yourself. . There are several different ways to do so:

Increase your assertiveness

Since your self-esteem stems from your self-image, it can be helpful to develop your self-image in a more positive way. We often see that negative self-esteem and sub-assertive behaviour go together, which isn’t surprising. Not considering yourself being worthy, simply makes it harder to stand up for yourself. Fortunately, being more assertive is something you can learn. More assertive behaviour leads to more self-esteem, just as more self-esteem leads to more assertive behaviour. To start this upward spiral, you can take an online assertive behaviour course.

Tackle your core beliefs!

To increase your self-esteem, you will have to change your core belief from “I’m not worthy” to “I’m proud to be me!” But just thinking it won’t get you there. You will need to fully convince yourself. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll benefit from it for the rest of your life. To get you started, try this exercise:


Let’s start by finding out what your core belief is. Imagine the following:

Imagine meeting two people you have never spoken to before. Let’s just say that it’s at a house party. You chat for a while and tell a thing or two about yourself. At some point you feel the need to go to the toilet, so you excuse yourself and get up. As soon as you walk into the hallway you notice that there is a long queue, so you decide to hold it up and go back into the living room to continue your conversation. However, your conversation partners didn’t see you come back in and are clearly talking about you. But not in a nice way …

For someone with low self-esteem this is a terrible situation to be in. Perhaps even just reading about it makes you feel uncomfortable. But here’s the question you need to answer for yourself:

What could be the worst thing they can say about you? The thing is, any negative statement people say about you will only affect you if you yourself are convinced that they are right. However, if you are already convinced that they’re talking nonsense, you won’t be as affected by those statements and most likely just ignore them.


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It’s your own approval that counts

In many cases, most of us look for approval of others. If other people think we’re nice, then it must be true, right? But this is a strategy you shouldn’t rely on for two reasons: first of all, it is impossible to make everyone like you. And secondly, even if you managed to be friends with the entire world’s population, you might still think that they are unaware of your belief of not deserving their approval. While seeking approval from others is tempting, it doesn’t truly do you any good. What matters is your own approval. So, start working on improving your self-acceptance.

Getting support from a student coach

It’s always a good thing to work on your self-esteem. Not fully convinced you can pull it off by yourself? Not to worry, we’re happy to help! As student coaches we can help you raise your self-esteem and get rid of false interpretations you currently have about yourself. If at any point in time you and your coach are convinced that more professional help will get you further, we will make sure your transfer to a specialist goes smoothly. All the while, we will remain involved in your process of becoming a stronger version of yourself.

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