Why We Hate Ourselves: Self-esteem Explained


Self-esteem is a funny thing.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it’s function is or why it even exists in the first place, it has been theorized that it’s meant to be a catalyst for self-preservation.

Self-esteem is, in a nutshell, your perception of your own worth.

So, if you have high self-esteem, you are less likely to take on destructive, demeaning, or devaluing habits. Those with high self-esteem are better at taking care of themselves and generally have more positive traits.

But here’s the problem. Our self-esteem is influenced by those around us.

It is not a matter of simply deciding that we matter and deserve better. What people think of us affects our self- perception immensely.

One study on the topic reported fascinating results. Using an MRI scanner, subjects were observed to gauge fluctuations in neural signals linked to our self-perception. In the test, subjects were made to upload profiles of themselves to a database.

They were then told to witness the reaction of more than 100 strangers, who would rate their profiles with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, much like on social media.

Furthermore, the strangers were divided, and so the subjects came to expect positive results from certain groups over others. What the participants didn’t know was that the ‘strangers’ involved didn’t exist.

It was actually an algorithm!

The test not only proved that our confidence takes a knock when we don’t get the approval of others, but it went much further and concluded that our self-esteem plummets even more when we expect to be liked and are not.



I don’t know about you, but I am seeing a link between this and the theory above that our public image serves us and that’s why we so desperately protect it, even when we’re in the wrong. It’s almost as though there is no winning with our self-perception.

So why do we hate ourselves? How come we form such low self-esteem when it’s meant to help us put our best foot forward?

It would take some serious psychology to get into that, but the short answer is that we don’t know because there are too many variables.

Naturally, someone who has been put down by others their whole life won’t hold themself in high regard. In other cases, it could be mental health disorder, trauma or just plain negativity.

The reason why the opinions of others threaten our self- perception to such extremes is somewhat unclear, but the accepted theory in psychology is that it’s inherent in us and quite literally aided our survival.

Primitive humans were herd animals and had strength in numbers.

When migrating, hunting or fighting the elements the stronger the group, the higher the chance of survival was. The weak were abandoned for slowing the rest down or burdening them as a waste of resources.

If you weren’t liked or accepted, you were left behind to fend for yourself.

We think the same way now.

To take this theory further, it’s suggested that we still feel threatened and that it’s still a matter of survival because humans have become our own primary predator.

We are also social beings who, unfortunately, live in a world in which you’ll be isolated if you don’t make a good impression.

These instincts, to prove our worth so that we won’t be excluded are the best explanation that we have for our shoddy self-esteem.

But nothing changes the fact that it’s all codswallop. You are not a primitive human being, and as long as you’re a decent one, what others think of you doesn’t matter one bit.

You won’t get left behind and eaten by sabretooths if people don’t like you. I promise. Sure, it doesn’t feel nice when people don’t reciprocate our affections, or validate our own sense of self-worth, but that’s just it.

It’s SELF-worth. You’re the only one who can determine it.


-Tony Sanders


Official list of Tony Sanders books 👇

How to Live a Good Life: 2 Books in 1: Take Control of Your Life, Eliminate Negative Thinking, Relieve Anxiety, Improve Your Social Skills, Self-esteem and Confidence with the Habits of a Happy Brain

Change Your Habits in 30 Days: Small Daily Changes to Break Your Bad Habits, Build Good Ones, and Start Living A Wealthy, Happy, and More Successful Life

F*ck your negative thoughts: 7 steps to get out of your head and start living an awesome life




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