Updated: May 12
Having a low self-esteem is something many people of all ages deal with. The way we think about ourselves can directly impact our mental health and overall well-being. When our self worth is low or non-existent, attempting to love ourselves can feel impossible. If you suffer from self-esteem challenges, please keep reading for what to do about low self-esteem.
Table of Contents:
Why can't I love myself?
Causes of low self-esteem and how to fix
Confidence is key: ways to build confidence and self-esteem
Does life ever get better? Ways to learn to like yourself better
Why Can't I Love Myself?
Self-esteem is the degree to which we feel worthy, valuable, and confident. These feelings or beliefs can greatly affect our well-being and our social interactions. In other words, self-esteem refers to the way people feel about themselves. Low self-esteem is associated with feelings of self-criticism, self-doubt, shame, and social isolation. Individuals with low self-esteem may constantly measure themselves against others and determine they are coming up short. Even adults with healthy self-esteem can develop issues when they are faced with sudden life challenges they perceive as failures. The truth is, when it comes to self-esteem, the research shows that our self-esteem generally increases as we age but eventually levels out; however, one's relationships, work, and health can impact it.
Causes of Low Self-Esteem and How to Fix
Low self-esteem negatively impacts our quality of life. Feelings of unworthiness can begin at a young age and if neglected, can potentially lead to depression and anxiety. Because low self-esteem can be so damaging, finding ways to feel better about ourselves and our abilities is vital to our well-being. Here are some causes of low self-esteem:
To help instill a positive self-esteem in their child, parents should always offer love, patience, and encouragement and avoid unfair comparisons, unrealistic expectations, and criticism.
When children receive too many criticisms, they may develop a negative pattern of thinking. If not adjusted, this pattern can turn into a destructive loop of negative thoughts such as (I'm not good enough, I'm not pretty enough, everyone is laughing at me, I'm not smart enough, I can't do it). These self-critical thoughts can eventually become core beliefs, and the person's behavior then changes to match those beliefs.
These are just a few of the causes of low self-esteem, but they illustrate that self-esteem is not an inherited trait like height or eye color, but rather a set of acquired beliefs that can be altered. No matter what may have caused low self-esteem, there are ways to improve it:
Challenge Your Inner Critic
That self-critical voice must be silenced and replaced with a supportive one. First, when a negative thought pops into your head, simply become aware of it. Next, challenge that thought by asking two questions:
Is there any evidence that proves this thought is correct?
Would my friends and loved ones agree with this thought?
Chances are the answers you'll get most often are no. When this happens enough times, you'll start to believe that maybe your inner critic is wrong.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
So many people spend countless hours measuring their worth and value against others instead of embracing what makes them unique. No one has your DNA or your life experiences, and that is special. It's very important that you stop spending time comparing yourself to others and start spending time sharing your unique talents and ideas with the world.
Stop Striving for Perfection
Human beings are never finished. We are lovely works in progress, ever-changing and growing. Since we will never stop evolving, we must never be critiqued in the same way as an inanimate object. So stop trying to be perfect and just be your awesome progressing self.
Start Loving Your Body
Many people struggle with body image issues. Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, on how much you weigh, or how big your muscles are, focus on being healthy. Be grateful for your health and make healthy choices so you can feel good and vibrant.
Cut Back on Social Media
Social media has its good points, but it can also set unrealistic expectations regarding relationships and lifestyles. It's important to remember that online, people tend to only post images that make their lives seem awesome which is not always an accurate presentation. Spending too much time looking at other people leading fun lives can lead us to spending less time enjoying our own.
Confidence is Key: Ways to Build Confidence and Self-Esteem
Having confidence helps individuals achieve greater success in life. When someone believes they can accomplish something, nothing can stop them from reaching that goal. Equally important; however, is having a healthy self-esteem. Many people believe they can achieve a goal, they just don't believe they are worth the effort. Having confidence and a positive self-esteem can help you live a more fulfilling life by making your dreams a reality. Here are 3 ways you can build both:
Stop Self-Criticism in its Tracks
As mentioned earlier, in order to grow as a person, all of that negative self-talk has to stop. Again, the next time you have a self-critical thought, ask yourself two questions:
Is there any evidence that this thought is true?
Would my friends and family agree that this thought is true?
There is a very good chance that the answer to both of these questions will be no. When you answer no over and over again, you will start to consider that you are something other, something more, than you originally perceived. This will help you to love yourself well.
Keep a Journal
This will not be an ordinary journal. This journal will be one in which you write down all of your victories. Writing down successes helps you to feel them and remember them better. The success could be small or big. Write these down everyday when you need a confidence boost and reread what you've written.
Keep Your Commitments
When you agree to do something, it's important to keep your word. If you don't commit and follow through, you learn not to trust yourself and lose faith in your ability to get results. Empower yourself by keeping your commitments to yourself and to others.
Does Life Ever Get Better? Ways to Learn to Like Yourself Better
Are you someone who's comfortable in their own skin? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A superstar or someone who doesn't quite live up to your own expectations? The thing is, our self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves. Sure, it's okay to strive to become a better version of ourselves, so long as we accept this current version flaws and all. If you're someone who is overly self-critical, here are 5 ways you can learn to love yourself well:
Enjoy Your Accomplishments
Some people are so focused on everything that's wrong with them, they never take a look at what's right. When you've done something well, it's important that you admit this success and enjoy it.
Understand That No One is Perfect
If you've been comparing yourself to other people, it's time for you to stop and realize that no one is perfect (sound familiar)? The sooner you can accept this fact the sooner you can relax and like who you are.
Have Patience with Yourself
Perhaps there are things about yourself that you would like to change. Do you want to lose weight, get healthier, learn a new language? Often we hate ourselves for not reaching impossible goals we have set for ourselves. If there are goals you would like to reach, be realistic in setting timelines and be patient with yourself.
Look at Your Past with a Kind Eye
Sometimes we don't like ourselves because of past actions and behaviors. It's important to give yourself some slack. The best thing to do is embrace your past, warts and all, and see what you can learn from your actions and behaviors.
Like Most of Yourself
You may never like 100% of yourself, and that's okay. Strive to like 80% or 90%. You can still live an incredibly happy life when you think only 85% of you is awesome. A healthy self-esteem is important to our overall well-being but getting there can be difficult, especially if you've suffered from a low self-esteem most of your life.
When our self-worth is low or non-existent, attempting to love ourselves can feel impossible. If you suffer from self-esteem issues, speaking with a therapist can help you recognize where these issues came from and how to work through them.
Confidence is Key! Get Help with the Effects of Low Self-Esteem!
If you are in Houston, New York, or California and you would like to explore treatment options for improving low self-esteem, please contact me and schedule a free consultation today. I would be happy to speak with you about how you can learn to love yourself well.