The Dangers of Low Self-Esteem
In extreme instances, low self-esteem can rear its head in disastrous ways – from drug overdoses to remaining with a murderously abusive spouse to suicide. However, the most frequent consequences of low self-esteem are more subtle. It may even require a period of intense introspection to appreciate how our self-conception impacts every decision we make.
An inadequate self-esteem may reveal itself in a bad choice of a mate, in a marriage that brings only frustration, in a career that never goes anywhere, in aspirations that are somehow always sabotaged, in promising ideas that die stillborn or in a mysterious inability to enjoy successes.
When self-esteem is low, our resilience in the face of life’s adversities is diminished. We crumble before challenges that a healthier sense of self could vanquish. We are far more likely to succumb to a tragic sense of our existence and to feelings of impotence. We tend to be more influenced by the desire to avoid pain than to experience joy. Negatives have more power over us than positives. If we do not believe in ourselves—neither in our efficacy nor in our goodness—the universe is a frightening place.
People with high self-esteem can surely be knocked down by an excess of troubles, but they are quicker to pick themselves up again.
For this reason I have come to think of positive self-esteem as, in effect, the immune system of consciousness, providing resistance, strength and a capacity for regeneration. A healthy immune system does not guarantee that you will never become ill, but it does make you less vulnerable to disease and better equipped to overcome it. In much the same way, a healthy self-esteem does not insulate you from anxiety, depression or failure, but it does make you better equipped to cope with the challenges that you will invariably face.