Ever wonder why some days you feel on top of the world and other days you want to crawl under the covers and never come out? The ups and downs of your self-esteem can feel like a rollercoaster ride. But there were actually three types of self-esteem, not just high or low. According to psychologists, you can have inflated self-esteem too.

Understanding the differences can help you better navigate those emotional peaks and valleys. In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of each self-esteem style, how to determine which one best fits you, and strategies to build the type of self-esteem that will empower you to become your best self. The journey to self-acceptance and inner confidence starts here.

Why Your Self-Esteem Matters

Your self-esteem impacts how you view yourself and how you interact with the world. It’s worth understanding the three types of self-esteem so you can build healthy confidence.

3 Types of Self-Esteem
3 Types of Self-Esteem

High self-esteem means you have a positive view of yourself. You accept yourself as you are, flaws and all, and believe in your abilities. People with high self-esteem tend to be happier and more optimistic. The downside is that they can seem arrogant or unwilling to accept feedback.

Low self-esteem means lacking confidence in yourself and your abilities. You tend to be self-critical, focus on your perceived flaws and weaknesses, and doubt yourself. Low self-esteem can lead to anxiety, depression, and difficulty achieving goals. The good news is that self-esteem can be improved with conscious effort and practice.

Realistic self-esteem lies in the middle. You have a balanced, accurate view of yourself, acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses. You accept yourself as you are but also seek to grow and improve. Realistic self-esteem allows you to handle difficulties with resilience while also celebrating wins. It leads to the healthiest self-image and life outcomes.

Your self-esteem level shows in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Pay attention to your self-talk, how you handle mistakes or criticism, and your willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Make the choice every day to practice self-acceptance and self-compassion. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are. Your self-esteem is within your control and worth the investment.

Loving yourself will open you up to achieving your full potential
Loving yourself will open you up to achieving your full potential.

Self-Esteem Type 1: High Self-Esteem

High Self-Esteem
High Self-Esteem

If you have high self-esteem, you generally feel good about yourself and believe in your own worth and abilities. You know your strengths and weaknesses, but your strengths outweigh the weaknesses in your mind.

  • You accept yourself as you are instead of trying to be someone else. You don’t let self-doubt hold you back from going after what you want in life.
  • You see your mistakes and imperfections, but you don’t beat yourself up over them. You forgive yourself and look for ways to improve and do better next time.
  • You feel confident in your abilities and decisions. You trust your own judgment and don’t second-guess yourself constantly.
  • You know you deserve to be happy, and you don’t rely on the approval of others. You don’t let self-limiting beliefs stand in the way of your dreams and goals.
  • You feel comfortable with both compliments and criticism. You don’t get an inflated ego from praise or feel crushed by constructive feedback. Both are seen as opportunities to learn.

While high self-esteem has its benefits, it’s important to note that it does not mean you think you are better than others. You recognize not only your own worth but also the worth of those around you. You treat people with kindness, empathy, and respect. If taken to an extreme, high self-esteem can turn into narcissism, so maintaining a balanced and compassionate view of yourself and others is better.

The pros of having high self-esteem are:

  • You have a positive view of yourself and your abilities. This optimism and confidence helps you take on challenges and risks.
  • You don’t seek approval from others and aren’t swayed by criticism. You believe in yourself and your own worth.
  • You have healthy self-respect and set good boundaries. You don’t let people take advantage of you.

The cons of high self-esteem include:

  • Potential arrogance and lack of humility. You may overestimate your abilities and have an inflated sense of self.
  • Difficulty accepting feedback. You may ignore constructive criticism that could help you improve.
  • Lack of empathy for others. Your focus on yourself may make it hard to understand other people’s perspectives.

Overall, having a healthy level of self-esteem allows you to live authentically, pursue your purpose, and build meaningful relationships. And that is truly something to feel good about.

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How to Develop High Self-Esteem

It requires conscious effort and practice to overcome negative self-talk and see yourself in a balanced, compassionate way. Here are some tips to help cultivate self-esteem that’s not too high or too low, but just right.

1. Practice self-compassion.

Learn to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. Speak to yourself with encouragement and praise for your efforts and accomplishments, however small. Forgive yourself for mistakes and imperfections. No one is perfect, so avoid harsh self-criticism.

Offer yourself the same compassion you would offer to others
Offer yourself the same compassion you would offer to others.

2. Challenge negative thoughts.

Notice negative thoughts about yourself and try to adopt a more balanced perspective. Ask yourself questions to challenge negative beliefs, like “What evidence do I have that the thought is true?” Try to adopt a growth mindset by viewing abilities and intelligence as things that can be developed. You have the power to change.

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3. Focus on strengths.

It’s easy to dwell on perceived weaknesses and flaws, but shift your focus to your strengths, talents, and things you do well. Make a list of your best qualities and accomplishments and add to it regularly. Be specific, and celebrate what makes you who you are.

4. Self-Care

Take good care of yourself by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, engaging in hobbies, and limiting harmful habits. Getting enough sleep and downtime is also essential. When you feel good physically and mentally, you’ll feel better about yourself. Make time for social interaction and do small things each day that boost your confidence and self-worth.

Developing a healthy self-esteem is a lifelong effort, but by practicing self-compassion, challenging negative thoughts, focusing on your strengths, and maintaining good self-care, you can build a self-esteem that’s balanced, resilient, and helps you become your best self.

Self-Esteem Type 2: Low Self-Esteem

Low Self-Esteem
Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem means you lack confidence in yourself and your abilities. You tend to be overly self-critical and focus on your perceived weaknesses and flaws. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a tendency to underestimate yourself.

It can be improved by challenging negative thoughts, practicing self-care, and acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments. Be patient and kind to yourself. You have so much wonderful potential, so start embracing all the qualities that make you uniquely you!

The pros of having a low self-esteem are:

  • You may be more compassionate and empathetic towards others. Valuing yourself less can make you value others more.
  • Tendency towards humility and modesty. You don’t see yourself as inherently better than others.

The cons of low self-esteem include:

  • Negative view of yourself and constant self-doubt. This can hold you back from opportunities and prevent you from reaching your full potential.
  • Reliance on external validation. You depend heavily on the approval and opinions of others to feel good about yourself.
  • Difficulty setting boundaries. You may let people take advantage of you or not speak up for what you need.
  • Prone to depression and anxiety. Constant negative self-talk and lack of confidence can significantly impact your mental health and happiness.

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Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can be hard to recognize in yourself. But there are a few warning signs that may point to an unhealthy view of yourself.

1. Difficulty accepting compliments

Do you have trouble believing others when they say nice things about you? People with low self-esteem often dismiss compliments, thinking they’re not deserved or that the other person is just being polite. Learn to say “thank you” and accept the compliment.

2. Constant self-criticism

Everyone experiences self-doubt at times. But if you have a constant inner monologue harshly criticizing your every move and choice, this can significantly damage your self-esteem. Try to notice negative thoughts and reframe them more constructively.

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3. Seeking Constant Approval

Do you feel like you always need validation from others about your choices and actions? Needing approval from everyone around you is exhausting and a sign that your own opinion of yourself may be lacking. Learn to trust yourself and make decisions without needing input from all your friends and family.

4. Difficulty setting boundaries

If you have trouble saying no or feel guilty about putting your own needs first, you may struggle with low self-worth. Work on asserting yourself in a balanced, compassionate way. Say no when you need to, and make sure to schedule in time for yourself to avoid burnout and resentment.

5. Perfectionism

Holding yourself to impossibly high standards will only lead to disappointment and frustration. Learn to accept that you will make mistakes, that imperfections are normal, and that “good enough” is good enough. Cut yourself some slack and avoid harsh self-judgment when you perceive yourself as falling short of perfection.

6. Negative self-talk

If you have low self-esteem, you probably engage in a lot of negative self-talk. You criticize yourself for mistakes and imperfections, call yourself hurtful names, and make unfair comparisons between yourself and others. Challenge these thoughts and try to adopt a kinder inner voice.

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Low self-esteem is something you can improve. Be kind to yourself, focus on your strengths, and celebrate small wins. You deserve to feel good about who you are. With time and practice, you can overcome low self-esteem by developing a healthier and more balanced view of yourself.

Self-Esteem Type 3: Inflated Self-Esteem

Inflated Self-Esteem
Inflated Self-Esteem

The third type of self-esteem is inflated self-esteem. This is when you have an exaggerated sense of confidence in yourself that isn’t grounded in reality. Those with this type believe they are more talented, intelligent, or attractive than they really are.

While confidence is a good thing, if it’s inflated, it can lead to problems. You may take on challenges you’re not equipped to handle or make poor decisions because you overestimate your abilities. You tend to ignore negative feedback and criticism, seeing it as jealousy or ignorance on the part of others.

  • You have an exaggerated sense of your importance or talent.
  • You believe you deserve special treatment or that the rules don’t apply to you.
  • You have fantasies about power, success, or attractiveness that aren’t grounded in reality.
  • You become angry or dismissive when others don’t share your inflated views.
  • You don’t learn from your mistakes because you blame external factors rather than yourself.

To develop healthier self-esteem, focus on accepting yourself as you are rather than an idealized version of who you want to be. Look for objective measures of your strengths and weaknesses, skills, and talents. Accept feedback and criticism with an open mind, and work to improve yourself based on your actual abilities and potential. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are, not an inflated image of yourself.

With time and effort, you can overcome inflated self-esteem and develop self-confidence based on your authentic self. This will lead to healthier relationships, better decision-making, and ultimately a happier and more fulfilling life.

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Causes of Inflated Self-Esteem

Inflated self-esteem develops for several reasons. Some of the most common causes include:

1. Excessive praise

If you were lavished with praise as a child for mediocre accomplishments or just for being you, it likely inflated your self-esteem. Your sense of self-worth became disconnected from actual achievement or effort. While praise is important for development, it needs to be balanced and realistic. Excessive praise gave you an unrealistic sense of your own competence and abilities.

2. Lack of failure or struggle

Without experiencing failure or struggle, you don’t develop resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles. Everything came easily to you, so you assumed you were exceptional in some way. But in reality, you just hadn’t been challenged enough. Failure and struggle, while uncomfortable, build character and teach life lessons. They make your achievements meaningful.

3. Narcissistic Parenting

Were your parents highly focused on appearances, status, and their interests over yours? Narcissistic parents often see their children as extensions of themselves instead of individuals. They may have lavished you with praise and rewards to make themselves look good, not because you deserved it. This parenting style instills a false sense of superiority and entitlement in children.

4. Lack of responsibility

If you were rarely given responsibilities or held accountable as a child or adolescent, you didn’t get the opportunity to develop competence and a realistic understanding of your abilities. Responsibilities, chores, and accountability teach kids what they’re capable of and build a sense of self-efficacy. Without them, self-esteem becomes inflated and unrealistic.

Self-esteem based on these factors can be corrected by putting in the effort, accepting failure and struggle, taking on more responsibility, and balancing praise with realistic feedback. Your self-worth will become based on your actual abilities and qualities rather than an unrealistic perception of yourself.

The Link Between Self-Esteem and Mental Well-Being
The Link Between Self-Esteem and Mental Well-Being

Your self-esteem has a direct impact on your mental health and well-being. How you view yourself and your worthiness can determine your outlook on life and your ability to cope during difficult times.

Self-esteem and anxiety or depression

If you have low self-esteem, you are more prone to anxiety, stress, and even depression. You may doubt your abilities and worth, causing excessive worry and a pessimistic view of yourself and your life. High self-esteem acts as a buffer against these mental health issues by giving you confidence in yourself and your ability to handle challenges.

Coping with life’s struggles

When life throws you curveballs, your self-esteem influences how well you cope. If you have low self-esteem, you may feel unequipped to deal with job loss, health issues, or relationship struggles. You may become overwhelmed by self-doubt and feel unable to adapt to changes. With high self-esteem, you have an internal resilience that helps you navigate difficulties. You believe in your ability to get through tough times, adapt, and come out the other side.

Building healthy relationships

Your self-esteem impacts your relationships in many ways.

  • Low self-esteem may cause you to settle for unhealthy relationships where you are undervalued or mistreated. You don’t believe you deserve better.
  • High self-esteem gives you the confidence to build mutually caring relationships with partners who treat you well. You know your worth and won’t accept less.
  • Low self-esteem can lead to jealousy, clinginess, and dependence in relationships. You rely too heavily on your partner’s approval and affection.
  • High self-esteem allows you to maintain healthy independence in your relationships. You value yourself and your partner equally.

In the end, your self-esteem is directly tied to your mental health and ability to live a happy, fulfilling life surrounded by people who love and support you. Make the effort to build your confidence from the inside out. You deserve to appreciate yourself for who you are.

Strategies for Enhancing a Healthy Self-Esteem

Strategies for Enhancing a Healthy Self-Esteem
Strategies for Enhancing a Healthy Self-Esteem

The pros of having balanced self-esteem are:

  • You have a realistic, optimistic view of yourself. You recognize your strengths and weaknesses with self-acceptance.
  • You value yourself for who you are, not what you achieve. But you also have the drive and motivation to continuously improve.
  • You have empathy for others but also set healthy boundaries. You find the right balance of self-love and humility.

The cons are minimal with balanced self-esteem. The key is maintaining an attitude of growth and self-compassion. Continuously work to catch negative self-talk, focus on your strengths, and surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are. With balanced self-esteem, you open yourself up to the greatest happiness, success, and well-being.

To build healthy self-esteem, focus on strategies that enhance your self-worth in a balanced way. Avoid extremes of self-love or self-loathing.

1. Practice self-care.

Make sure to engage in regular self-care. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising are all ways to care for yourself physically and mentally. Take time for hobbies and socializing too. When you feel good, you’ll feel better about yourself.

2. Challenge negative self-talk.

Notice negative thoughts about yourself and try to re-frame them more constructively. If you think “I’m so stupid”, replace it with something like, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” Be kind to yourself!

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3. Accept yourself.

Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are flaws and all. No one is perfect, so avoid having unrealistic expectations of yourself. You are a unique, multifaceted human being.

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4. Do estimable acts.

Do things that make you feel good about yourself, like pursuing your interests, engaging in acts of kindness, or achieving small wins. Set small goals, and acknowledge your progress and accomplishments.

5. Surround yourself with a strong support system.

Spend time with people who appreciate you for who you are. Their positivity can help strengthen your own self-esteem. If some relationships are toxic, consider distancing yourself from them.

6. Let go of perfectionism.

The desire to be perfect can negatively impact your self-esteem. Learn to accept that you will make mistakes and that imperfections are a natural part of life. Don’t be too hard on yourself; show yourself the same compassion you would show a friend.

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7. Accepting compliments

Do you have trouble accepting compliments and praise from others? People with low self-esteem often dismiss or downplay positive feedback. Learn to say “thank you” and allow the compliment to sink in. Appreciate the kind words; you deserve them!

8. Set suitable expectations.

Don’t sell yourself short by setting the bar too low. People with low self-esteem tend to aim for less ambitious goals because they don’t believe they are capable of achieving more. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and pursue opportunities that allow you to demonstrate your abilities. You may be surprised by what you can accomplish!

Be patient with yourself and maintain a balanced perspective. You are a person deserving of love; make sure to give yourself the gift of self-compassion. With regular practice of these strategies, you’ll cultivate an esteem for yourself that is neither too high nor too low, but just right.

Final Thought

So there you have it: the three types of self-esteem and how they show up in your life. Now that you know the signs, take a moment to reflect on your own self-esteem. Are you mostly stable, fragile, or inflated? The truth is, we can move between these types at different points in our lives. The key is to work on building your stable self-esteem by practicing self-compassion, focusing on your strengths, and accepting yourself as you are.

You deserve to feel good about who you are, but that starts with you. Make the choice today to be kind to yourself, learn from your mistakes, and appreciate all the amazing qualities that make you uniquely you. Your self-esteem will thank you for it!


Call to Action

High, low, or inflated? Which one do you think you have? How can you improve your self-esteem and live a happier life? Don’t miss this opportunity to discover more about yourself and your potential. Find what makes you the best version of yourself.

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