Four Causes of Low Self-esteem

Low Self-esteem

We live in a society with a lot negative individuals who tend to make the society negative. Take a look at any local newspaper and you are ninety percent sure to find to negative news as the headline staring at you. If that was all the negative there is then there would have been much less problems.

You may have heard your neighbour (or is it you?) always using negative words on her child. The word ‘foolish’ is always at hand to be used when referring to the child or even to send him on an errand.

You leave your house for work and along the way you hear “Oloshi” and “Iya e.” The driver whose bus you are going to board is likely to curse at the slightest traffic.

Some parents are very negative in the way they bring up their children. A child came crying to his mother and when she inquired the cause of the cry, the child told her that a particular man had beaten him. Without bordering to know the details, she immediately asked the child, “You no curse am?” With all these happenings, there is little wonder why many individuals have low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the confidence you have in your own worth as an individual person. It can be referred to as self-respect. There are various causes why one would end up with a low self-esteem. Four of them are:

1. Trauma: An abuse whether it is emotional, physical, or sexual can cause low self-esteem. Suzanne Lachmann puts it this way:

Being forced into physical and emotional position against your will can make it very hard to like the world, trust yourself or trust others, which profoundly impacts self-esteem. It may even be like your fault when it couldn’t be less your fault. Obviously, in these scenarios, there is so much going on at one time that you might need to check out, dissociate, go away. It can make you feel like nothingness. In an effort to gain control of your circumstances, in your head you may have convinced yourself that you were complicit or even to blame. You may have found ways to cope with the abuse, to manage the chaos in ways that you understand are unhealthy…1

2. Unfair Comparison of Experiences: The way most of us compare our experience with another person’s experience is unrealistic. In doing this we bring down our success and exaggerate another’s success. This is not being fair to us.

Chances are good that you admire a particular musical artiste so much. When she sings you cannot help feeling that she is truly talented and is such a remarkable person. Now that is her profession. Chances are pretty good that the musical artiste you admire so much would be lost in your job or profession. This is as a result of the different experience both of you have. If you spend the next seven years studying music and sharpening your skill through training and practice, you have the chance of being as good as the musical artiste if not better.

3. Unfair Comparison of Qualities: You are being unfair to yourself when you compare someone’s positive qualities to your negative qualities. This is sure to lead to a low self-esteem. Zig Ziglar tells a story:

One woman did that and ended up at age 38 a scrub woman on welfare. Then she read Claude M. Bristol’s ‘The Magic of Believing’. She started believing and looking at her positive qualities, one of which was the ability to make people laugh. Even though she never competed with the beauties of the world, Phyllis Diller went on to earn as much as $1,000,000 in a single year. 2

4. Negative Remarks: Many people have low self-esteem because of this particular reason. They have had their appearance, intelligence, or ability ridiculed. This happened repeatedly and it stuck affecting the way they see themselves, hence, they judge themselves negatively. This is devastating. Rather than one seeing himself for the remarkable person he is, he sees himself through the eyes of others and in this case negative others. One’s picture of oneself becomes distorted.

This post is only about the causes of low self-esteem. The next post will show how low self-esteem is manifested.


  1. Suzanne Lachmann Psy. D, 10 Sources of Low Self-Esteem, Psychology Today, https//, Accessed May 9, 2016.
  2. Zig Ziglar, 2000, See You at the Top, Pelican Publishing Company Inc., 64.


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