Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.
The pretty young woman can't make a date with her girlfriend who has a happier life, complete with marriage and children. She's not jealous but she feels like a failure in comparison. The older man who has had a successful career in the past and is no longer employed jokes that his successful professional friends are "b ums." He's not jealous but he feels like a bum himself, in comparison.
How does it happen that someone who's nice, bright, cute and good feels bad about her/himself? In her case, she grew up in a family in which achievement and appearances meant everything. So, minus job, husband and a feeling of mental peace, she believes that she is worthless. Depression will do that, and conditioning will, as well. In his case, his parents were neglectful, absent, and whatever he accomplished went unnoticed and unappreciated. so minus a job, big income, and status, he believes that he is the lowest man on any totempole.
I'm not blaming original family life for every case of low self-esteem, but it certainly can create a negative groundwork. People overcome the feeling of being not as good with their achievements, kindness, faith, friendships, and acceptance of their worth as a human being. But, some never do develop self-respect, self-acceptance and inner peace. The ones who do really want to reject the old conditioning and embrace love of others and self. That's the key-valuing love for its own sake, love of life, people, and oneself. Love kills fear, unhealthy competition, and feelings of inferiority.