When a child experiences neglect, harsh or frequent criticism or abuse, his self-esteem is wounded. Since all children are egocentric, he will blame himself for his negative treatment. If the child is neglected or ignored, he will conclude that he is not lovable or likeable. If he is overly criticized, he will conclude that he is inadequate or incompetent. If he is abused, he will believe that he is bad, defective or even cursed. Thus, a wound to the self-esteem is inflicted, or what I call a “wound of the heart.”
No child is immune. Any child will respond to such negative experiences with similar conclusions. The difference between the child with low self-esteem and the one with a more healthy self-esteem is a difference in experience, not a difference in the strength or in the abilities of the child.
Further, without some intervention, the self-esteem wound will stay with the person throughout life. A child who believes she is unlovable or unimportant will usually maintain those beliefs in adulthood as well. The child who questions his abilities will doubt himself as an adult as well.
In this four-part series, we will examine the far-reaching impact of self-esteem wounds. We will look at the wound’s impact on (a) personal mental health and quality of life, (b) interpersonal relationships, and (c) educational and career performance.
In some ways, a self-esteem wound is similar to metastasized cancer. Over time, it spreads into all aspects of the victim’s life. The wound alters the person’s functioning and perception of every experience. Over time, it tends to impact everything.
In the next article, we will examine the impact of self-esteem wounds on the individual’s personal mental health and quality of life. We will look at the impact on mood, anxiety, and perception. We will explore the pain created by such wounds.
Question: Can you think of any other areas where self-esteem wounds have an impact that I need to cover? Thank you for your comments!