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Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to Psychosocial Well-Being

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Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to
Psychosocial Well-Being
ZolekaNtshuntshe, NokuzolaGqeba,
Malinge LivingstoneGqeba and NolonwaboMajibha
The process of globalisation has changed the pattern of social life of people
across the globe. Undoubtedly this has had a bad impact on the lives of the people
as it affects their social structures. This is because even though globalisation does
have its advantages, it also has its disadvantages which we can say are the “negative
effects” it has on people. The people that are mostly affected are the youth as they
tend to be very “impressionable” and sometimes even “gullible” to the most appeal-
ing media and technology advances. For some they seek affirmations in these plat-
forms, which may work to their detriment. Hence negative effects of globalisation
manifests in all kinds of problems which have the potential to destroy individuals
and families if there are no proper interventions in place to ensure better outcomes
for all. This chapter will then try to explain what globalisation is, its impact on
individuals especially the youth and the role of family and teachers in establishing
and affirming childrens positive self-esteem. Ultimately the chapter will end by
outlining therapy approaches for positive self-esteem formation.
Keywords: globalisation, self-esteem, affirmation, intervention
1. Introduction
This chapter will commence by explaining what self-esteem is. This is because
self-esteem may have a direct impact on how a person sees himself/herself as it may
also contribute to the way they conduct and present themselves to the world. The
formation of a positive self-esteem is a direct result of a positive self-concept. So,
what is self-concept? We are all good at something and we all do things that we can
be proud of. These successes help us to develop a good self-concept. When you are
successful at something, you feel good about yourself. These feelings bring about
some confidence which is a feeling of self-assurance that is based on an awareness
and appreciation of your abilities [1, 2]. Therefore it can safely be assumed that a
person has a good idea about who he is, and these feelings can easily be transferred
to the formation of a positive self-esteem. In other words, that confidence that a
person has is a feeling of assurance that is based on an awareness and appreciation
of his abilities. This means that one is certain of his/her knowledge, abilities and
skills, especially in situations where these will succeed [1, 2]. That brings on what
is called a positive self-esteem, which goes a bit deeper than self-concept because it
has to do with self-respect and whether you understand and value your worth as a
Counseling and Therapy
person. This develops from infancy and continues up to adulthood, with a person
feeling capable whilst also feeling loved.
Major contributors to the formation of a positive self-esteem are influences on
your self-confidence and self- image which are your experiences in life, positive
input and feedback from others, such as family, friends and peers, achievements
and failure, beliefs and values, in other words, that feeling of being loved and
accepted by others [3–5]. Thus when a child has successfully formed a positive
self-concept, it is easy to translate those feelings and emotions to the formation of
a positive self-esteem. When a person has formed a positive self-concept it is then
very difficult to be easily taken in by all the bad things around them as it is often a
personality trait which tends to be stable and enduring. Hence it is very important
for teachers at school to continue to praise, acknowledge and affirm children as
this is a direct continuation of what parents have already started at home. This is
because how we see ourselves is often influenced by how other people see us and
how they treat us. In addition to this, constant self-affirmations are necessary for a
continued self-esteem. This simply means that a child does not need to sit and wait
for others to affirm him; he can practise reciting self-affirmations which will con-
tinue to give him confidence, a positive self-image and ultimately the formation of
a positive self-esteem about him. These positive self-affirmations can be in the form
of “I am loved; I can do it; I am not afraid to fail; I can make friends easily; I am
not afraid to ask for help; I am not scared to try out new things; I love myself even
though sometimes I fail; I act responsibly; I am intelligent and every day brings new
Self-esteem is a term used to describe a persons overall sense of self-worth or
personal value. It can also be described as how an individual sees himself/herself,
how he/she perceives his value to the world and how valuable he/she thinks he/
she is to other people [6]. People are often described as either having high self-
esteem, in which case they think very well of themselves and their abilities, or low
self- esteem (filled with doubts and criticism about themselves and their abilities).
Self-esteem is important because it is an essential human need that is vital for
survival and normal healthy development [6]. According to Maslow [7], psycho-
logical health is not possible unless the essential core of a person is fundamentally
accepted, loved and respected by others and by himself.
Self-esteem also allows people to face life with more confidence, benevolence
and optimism, thereby easily reaching their goals, and to self-actualise [8].
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there is the need to belong and in that
process of the adolescent trying to fit in with peers. Also, one of the esteem needs
people have is to be acknowledged as individuals in their own right and as a person
of worth to others [8]. The self-esteem that a person has is a key factor in the way
that a person relates to others, how he /she sees himself and the priority they give
to meeting their own needs [6]. Adolescents who do not have the required context/
environment and experiences for the development of healthy identity or because
of severe stress may not be able to develop healthy identity. This may lead them to
experience self-doubt and later on engage in self-destructive behaviours to relieve
anxiety associated with confusion [9]. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that until
physical needs are satisfied, other needs cannot be met. However, literature has
shown that interaction with children especially young children and youth revealed
that the need for love and caring is necessary and more important than many
physical needs [10]. Therefore the need for love and acceptance is very important
to children as they contribute towards formation of a positive self-esteem. The
above discussion has clearly shown the importance of a positive self-esteem with
regard to preservation of the youth. Donnelan etal. [11] found low self-esteem in
adolescence to be particularly damaging and is directly associated with aggression,
Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to Psychosocial Well-Being
antisocial behaviour and delinquency. The youths are already at risk of developing
low self-esteem due to a variety of reasons, and when there is no adult be in the
form of a parent or teacher to play a significant role in the life of a child, the child
may develop low self-esteem [6]. The above discussion has also shown the close
link between a positive self-esteem and a healthy psychosocial well-being. High
self-esteem is generally linked to positive outcomes [12]. In addition to this, it has
been noted that people with higher and stable self-esteem generally have better life
satisfaction and greater optimism about the future and better physical health than
do those with lower self-esteem [13]. The next section will delve deeper and explain
what globalisation is; how it affects people in general, particularly the youth; and
it’s positive and negative aspects.
2. Globalisation: the context
Whilst the idea of globalisation is improving, interconnectedness across borders
is a positive thing for the youth; it also brings about the reality of inequality and the
widening of divisions between people. Young people have to grapple with the reality
of global opportunities being exposed to them but also have to deal with the reality
of poverty and deprivation in some instances (cultural, economic and social).
Poverty and deprivation amongst the least-developed countries have forced the
youth to migrate to countries that promise better opportunities [14].
Social implications of globalisation also have to do with where the people are
located in North–South divide. There is evidence to suggest that there is improve-
ment in the provision of health and education in developing countries given that
they have been in the globalisation process. Added to this is the fact that there is
recorded drop in infant mortality rate by 30% in countries like Brazil, Egypt and
Malaysia [14].
2.1 Opportunities of globalisation
• Greater access to information—cell phones, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
• Job markets at international levels
• Building of relations across borders
• Access to information across borders, religions, cultures and races
2.2 Threats of globalisation
• Youths have become a target for recruitment by terrorist organisations and
have been drawn into religious cults using the internet.
• Human trafficking is also on the rise using job opportunities to lure job seekers.
• Drug trafficking—youths are being recruited into becoming drug mules.
• Fourth industrial revolution—job losses as semi-skilled workforce will be
replaced by machines.
Because of this, it has become easy for groups with ill intentions to lure young
people by dangling the potential of a life of opulence.
Counseling and Therapy
2.3 Globalisation and youth identity
Globalisation impacts directly and has a powerful influence on youth lives.
The social benefits of globalisation are that it provides work opportunities that in
turn increase independence, self-esteem and positive contribution to their family’s
well-being. Accessing the economic benefits (jobs) of globalisation, the youths have
to migrate. Migration involves adapting to social changes that might include identity
and a sense of place in the world. Beyond migration, things like employment patterns,
friendship groups and usage of the internet all impact on the identity. Youths tend
to be the most consumers of culture and are targets of messages loaded with global
social problems. The Commission on Integrity and Cohesion [15] identified three
themes that strengthen the influence on youth identity crisis. These are
• Super diversity—migrants suddenly come from countries all over the world
and not only those that have historical links with each other.
• Multiple identities—the diverse sources of identity include race, gender and
• Transnationalism—easy communication and links with even all over the globe
contribute to transnationalism.
These impact on the notion of self and sense of belonging that are critical to
youth identity, whilst on the other hand Gidley [16] bemoans the western cultural
influence brought about by globalisation. Gidley points out that globalisation
homogenises dominant (western) culture. This deprives young people individuality
and identity that are central to the development of young people.
On the other hand, Ray [17] posits that globalisation creates a fluid world
due to increased hybridism and differentiation. Hybridism according to scholars
like Bhabha [18] and Soja [19] is a state of “in-betweenness.” As far as Bhabha is
concerned, hybridism manifests itself as a form of progressive alternative in the
construction of culture and identity. This creates an opportunity for the youth to
act across cultures and create an understanding within a self-motivated interchange
and inclusion in the global sphere [20]. Ray [17] seems to agree with the report
of the Commission on Integrity and Cohesion [15] in positing that the globalised
world does notcreate homogeneity and polarisation” but rather creates creative
and eclectic mix of identities. This situation creates difficulties for young people as
they find it difficult to construct social identities. Added to this are cultural influ-
ences, needs of the labour market and the nature of education [21].
On the other hand Elie [22] provides a comprehensive list of 11 themes of how
globalisation affects youth lives. The list is inclusive of the themes identified by the
authors above. They are
• Access to and privatisation of education
• HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care for the youth
• Export-oriented manufacturing industries and young workers
Trafficking of young women
Indigenous youth
• Vulnerability of agricultural youth
Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to Psychosocial Well-Being
• Violence and young people’s security
• Globalisation of youth activism and human rights
• Young people access to technology
• Young people access to water
• Global youth culture and identity
3. Access to and privatisation
Globalisation has led to privatisation of education for different reasons that
include improvements of efficacy and getting rid of government monopolies that
impact negatively on trade [23]. The two scholars suggest that internationally more
than 10,000 state-owned companies were privatised in 10years between 1998 and
2008. The privatisation has not always yielded good results for both underdeveloped
and developed nations. It has led to negative impact on environment, high levels
of corruption and declining employment. The negative impact of privatisation on
young people includes limited access to education, restricted employment opportu-
nities and diminishing choices that were once open to young people.
4. Global structure and financial architecture
Traditionally, multilateral institutions were considered “remote and intangible”
particularly by young people. However, with globalisation, young people have come
to realise that these institutions play a pivotal role in their lives. In the 11 issues
identified above, the role of multilateral institutions has been highlighted. There
is evidence to the effect that with some reform, these institutions can give rise to a
positive version of globalisation.
5. Representation, activism and human rights
It has become abundantly clear that young people globally do not find space
to voice their opinions. Even institutions that offer them a voice do so with strict
limitations. This limitation of channels for young people to voice their opinions has
led to apathy when it comes to formal politics.
6. Inequitable representations
The interconnectedness between international economies has led to skewed
relations where multilateral agencies operating in one region can exercise power
that impact on nations, communities and households of other regions. This happens
throughdecisions, actions or inaction by these agencies [24]. Goodman [25] posits
that these power imbalances are a prominent feature of globalisation.
The young has learnt that whilst opportunities have increased with globalisa-
tion, the imbalance in power relations institutionalises poverty through wealth and
resources being concentrated amongst economically dominant nations, communi-
ties and corporations.
Counseling and Therapy
7. Education
Evidence has shown that investment in education contributes to equitable
development and large-scale reduction of poverty. Oxform International [26] has
however reported that 130 children of primary school-going age have no access
to basic education. Globalisation to some is a barrier as many young people, par-
ticularly from poor households, get deprived of skills necessary for employment,
limiting their productive capacity. The burden placed on many governments by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, to service foreign debt, limits
the capacity of these governments to provide basic education.
8. Displacement
Globalisation has led to displacement of people from their arenas where they
are able to make a living to unfamiliar territories where life is challenging. Reasons
for displacement include environmental impact of globalisation, changes in agri-
cultural patterns and the ever-present threat of conflict over resources. The reality
is that whilst globalisation is known for the availability of increased economic
opportunities, they are not open to all. Even with the commitments made at the
Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 and at the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, very little has changed on environmental displacement [22].
9. Mitigating youth identity crisis
9.1 Intervention mechanisms
Westergaard ([27], pp.98–105) posits that in counselling young people, it is
important to bear in mind that the counsellor is not dealing with “mini-adults”.
Young people have got their own challenging and complex issues. In her research
([27], pp.98–105) four themes have been developed, which are essential in counsel-
ling young people. These are the significance of safety in the relationships, building
the therapeutic alliance, flexibility and integration relating to theoretical orienta-
tion and the use of creativity. These might be some of the considerations in assisting
youth to cope with the effects of globalisation.
9.2 Role of family in establishing and affirming children’s positive self-esteem
In the introduction of this chapter, a point was raised where teachers take up
the role of continuing praising, acknowledging and affirming children, from
Parents and teachers are supposed to play a team role in this aspect; it is not
bearing fruit to shift the blame to each other, whilst each one of them has a unique
contribution. These roles are clearly explained in the introduction of this chapter,
which includes to love and to create an atmosphere of belongingness. The following
are some of the ways that Adler and Steward [28] recommend:
• All learners/children should feel loved by the teacher/parent.
• Learners’/childrens abilities and talents should be discovered and appreciated.
• All learners should have a sense of belonging in class and at home.
Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to Psychosocial Well-Being
• Individual needs should be considered at home and at school.
• Teachers should be conscious of individual’s learner multicultural needs.
• Learners should be assisted to form strong relationships with their peers in so
many ways including group work.
• Learners/children should be assisted to feel good about themselves, and
teachers and parents should utilise powerful verbal feedback to assist learners/
children to grow confidence and reach their full potential.
10. Therapy approaches for a positive self-esteem formation
Low self-esteem is not a condition or state of mind that cannot be addressed;
it can be addressed or corrected with the engagement of one or all the following
therapy approaches:
Cognitive behavioural therapy: Beck & Freeman [29] explains this as a
short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by
changing their thought patterns.
Acceptance and commitment therapy: Burke [30] paints a picture of a unique
empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mind-
fulness strategies, together with commitment and behaviour change strategies,
to increase psychological flexibility.
Exposure therapy: Hayes and Smith [31] view it as that which involves
exposing the patient to the anxiety source; doing so is thought to help them
overcome their anxiety or distress.
Mindfulness-based therapies: Burke [30] unpacks this as an approach to psy-
chotherapy that uses cognitive behavioural therapy methods in collaboration
with mindfulness meditative practices and similar psychological strategies.
11. Conclusion
• Reflecting back to the introduction of this chapter, Maslow, in his definition of
self-actualised person, highlights that he is the one who is characterised by no
mental illness, is satisfied in basic needs, has fully exploited his talents and is
motivated by values.
• Maslow’s tenet to his theory suggests that satisfying needs (as mentioned in the
introduction) make an individual healthy, and failure to satisfy makes one sick
or act evil with the possibility of low self-esteem.
• In an effort to bring the winding up of this chapter, the writer saw that it is
necessary that the relationship of Maslow’s theory, globalisation and self-
esteem be closely knitted together. Also the topics that will follow will serve to
synchronise and serve as a peroration.
• Effects of globalisation in the absence of self-esteem.
Counseling and Therapy
Author details
ZolekaNtshuntshe*, NokuzolaGqeba, Malinge LivingstoneGqeba
and NolonwaboMajibha
University of Fort Hare, EastLondon, SouthAfrica
*Address all correspondence to:
• As youth moves to other countries to, amongst other things, pursue greener
pastures, the dilemma of hybridisation which has been outlined in the previous
section may surface. This is strongly associated to a lack of the sense of belong-
ingness, which has a strong potential in leaving one with a low self-esteem.
• The previous section also puts a specific emphasis on the fact that globalisation
creates a mix of identities for young people as they find it difficult to construct
social identities. In one’s life, attachments are not only to family and friends
and familiar landmarks but also to one’s social status. If one had a solid social
status of perhaps very influential in the society where he have lived but sud-
denly is dependent upon other people for assistance and has no influence at all,
then self-esteem may be affected.
• The previous section also underpins the feeling of displacement as a direct
effect of globalisation. As people move from where they are able to make a
living to unfamiliar territories where life is challenging, self-esteem tends to be
very fragile especially in environments where love (as highlighted in Maslow’s
theory) is not thriving and only the survival of the fittest is a necessary factor
for making ends meet.
© 2020 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
Self-Esteem: A Positive Way to Psychosocial Well-Being
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Globalization creates new sociocultural environments, leads to greater interconnectedness of people across borders, and demands new ways of understanding the world. One psychological effect of globalization is on how people self-identify themselves. This paper details a development of a cross-culturally stable scale to measure global identity, the degree to which people identify with a global culture.
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Previous studies revealed that low self-esteem is prospectively associated with depression. However, self-esteem has been shown to change over time. We thus hypothesized that not only level but also change in self-esteem affect depression. Using data from a 23-year longitudinal study (N = 1,527), we therefore examined the prospective effects of global and domain-specific self-esteem (physical attractiveness, academic competence) level and change on depressive symptoms 2 decades later. Self-esteem was assessed annually from age 12 to 16, and depression was assessed at age 16 and 35. Results from latent growth curve analyses demonstrated that both level and change in self-esteem served as predictors for adult depression. Individuals who entered adolescence with low self-esteem, and/or whose self-esteem declined further during the adolescent years, were more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression 2 decades later as adults; this pattern held both for global and domain-specific self-esteem. These findings highlight the importance of adolescent self-esteem development for mental health outcomes in adulthood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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The results of a field investigation indicate that people who are highly invested in their self-views (confidently held or personally important) are especially inclined to display a preference for verification of their self-views. Specifically, only those participants who were certain of their self-views or perceived them as important preferred roommates who confirmed their self-views. Such preferences were some-what stronger when the self-views were relatively negative. This is the first demonstration of self-verification in a field setting in which relationship partners were randomly assigned to one another.
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It is proposed that people negotiate and receive verification for highly positive, relationship-specific selves. Study 1 indicated that although people wanted evaluations that were roughly consistent with their self-views on most dimensions, on a dimension that was crucial to a specific relationship (physical attractiveness in dating relationships) they wanted evaluations that far exceeded their self-views. Studies 2 and 3 showed that participants recognized that their desired evaluations exceeded their self-views but they expected to—and actually did—evoke exalted appraisals of their attractiveness from dating partners. Study 4 suggested that the desire to receive exceptionally positive appraisals on relationship-relevant dimensions generalized to other self-views and same-sex, nonromantic relationship partners. The authors conclude that people find ways of circumventing the conflict between their desires to be valued yet understood.
Aim: Counsellors who work with young people in a range of contexts know that they are not engaging with ‘mini-adults’. The issues young people bring to counselling are often complex, challenging and wide-ranging, as adolescents are experiencing times of turbulence and change in their physical, emotional, social and psychological development. This paper focuses on a research project undertaken with five counsellors who work with young people, and asks the question: ‘What works?’ Method: The research project is an in-depth qualitative study into the counsellor's experience of counselling young people, using a narrative approach. Findings: Four key shared themes emerged: the significance of ‘safety’ in the relationship; building the therapeutic alliance; flexibility and integration relating to theoretical orientation; and the use of creativity. Outcomes: This paper offers counsellors the opportunity to reflect on ‘what works’ and consider the professional knowledge, which underpins their own counselling practice with young people.