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Characteristics of Low Self-Esteem and What to Do About It

Take Away:

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:
  1. What is self-esteem?

  2. Causes of low self-esteem and how to fix

  3. Ways to build confidence and self-esteem

  4. Struggling with self love? Ways to learn to like yourself better

What is Self-Esteem?

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Signs of Low Self-Esteem

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, most people fit in the middle of the spectrum, feeling fairly self-confident one minute and then anxious the next.

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. Without further ado, here are some causes of low self-esteem:

Woman with flowers sticking out of her shirt and covering her face
How to Fix Low Self-Esteem

  • Parental Input

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.

  • Negative Self-Talk

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-critic 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.

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:

Woman in blue suit jacket pointing her finger and looking into the distance
What to Do About Low Self-Esteem

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Struggling with Self-Love? Ways to Learn to Like Yourself Better

The words I a heart me written in sand
Struggling With Self-Love

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 like yourself better:

  • 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.

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 I may be able to help you gain perspective and acquire new habits based in self-love and compassion.

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