This post addresses number two from Facts that Impact Therapy.
2. low (global) self-esteem* is an innate survival strategy that does not need treatment [1, 5, 18]
* low self-esteem is defined here as trait self-esteem in the absence of aversive social experiences
Low self-esteem has been stigmatized and misunderstood, especially in a culture that glorifies narcissism, i.e., the pursuit of high self-esteem. It has been suggested, however, that a considerable number of those classified as having low self-esteem are this way because of an innate temperament, such as the discovered trait of sensory-processing sensitivity by Dr. Elaine Aron .
In fact, one-fifth, and always in this ratio, of over one hundred species of animals, including humans, adapt a survival strategy of being observant before acting and often appear as shy or inhibited [5, 18]. The cause for low self-esteem is not that people choose to be negative and rank themselves low as those are the effects of an unconscious strategy to protect from worst case scenarios and from being challenged or criticized should they fall short of standards.
It’s a “lay low” and “play it safe” approach that is due to their temperament and is not learned. Moreover, low self-esteem people don’t necessarily harbor feelings of dislike towards themselves as that is learned through negative social experiences and unfavorable social comparisons. It only means that they readily describe themselves in disparaging terms when under the prospect of being judged by others since they are sensitive to the rankings of others.
These tendencies, which are automatic and unconscious, have the effect of saying that “I’m no threat” and make one submit and ingratiate more easily. Whether or not low self-esteem people are at higher risk for depression and social anxiety, however, will be discussed in the next post. Regardless, low self-esteem is better described as those that are “cautious and uncertain in order to reduce exposure of deficiencies” than as a “maladaptive coping strategy in the face of adversity” .
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