Self-esteem is our subjective view of how we perceive or value ourselves. In other words, self-esteem may be defined as your personal worth. Other terms used interchangeably with self-esteem include self-worth, self-regard, and self-respect.
The Root Cause of Low Self-esteem
Low self-esteem can come from a couple of different places. Contributors include difficult or stressful life experiences such as:
- Unhappy childhood where parents or other significant people were extremely critical
- Being bullied or abused
- Experienced prejudice, discrimination, stigma, and racism
- Physical health problems
- Mental health problems
- Financial problems
- Losing your job or difficulty finding employment
- Problems at work or while studying
- Worries about your appearance and body image
- An ongoing stressful life event such as a relationship breakdown
Signs of Having Low Self-Esteem:
- Conforming and agreeing with everybody despite internally disagreeing
- Needing approval from others in order to feel good.
- Holding yourself back because you’re worried about what others might think of you.
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Constantly live in self-blame
- Harbor feelings of Self-hate
- Always worried, always thinking of: what if’s
- Fear of failure or of not being good enough
- Uncomfortable saying no and cannot set boundaries.
- Tend to put other people’s needs before their own
- Struggle with confidence
- Extremely critical of oneself
- Downplays or ignores positive qualities in oneself
- Constantly feel inferior to others
- Have a habit of negative, critical self-talk
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Self-Esteem and Your Dream Life
According to Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: There are six practices that form our self-esteem: living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, purposefulness, and integrity. He said that no one can simply “give” you your self-esteem. If you can’t see your own value, there’s a high chance that others won’t either.
Many are scared of rejection because they consider other people’s opinions higher than their own. This is a huge factor that might hold you back from achieving your dreams because self-esteem impacts your thoughts, emotions, and actions. It affects the choices and decisions you make, your relationships, and your overall well-being.
Procrastination is principally caused by low self-esteem and self-criticism. You unconsciously delay the things you need to do because deep inside you don’t trust and believe in yourself. Thus self-esteem can be a factor in your decision of whether you’ll go for your dreams or ignore them out of fear.
Having self-esteem is knowing that you are enough, you trust yourself, and you don’t need other people’s opinions or approval. People with a healthy, positive view of themselves understand their potential and so they are more likely to feel motivated, inspired, and take risks.
Signs you Have a Healthy Self-Esteem
- You practice self-respect, self-love, self-care
- Know that you are enough
- Believe you deserve happiness
- Have feelings of security and a sense of belonging
- Feeling of competence
- You like and value yourself as a person
- Comfortable making decisions
- You recognize your strengths
- You accept your weaknesses and work on them
- Willing try new or difficult things
- Capable of forgiving and being Kind to oneself
Take Control of your Life by Building your Self-Esteem
No matter how uncertain you feel about yourself, you’re never a lost cause and there are plenty of things you can do right now to build your self-esteem.
1. Catch your negative thoughts
The beliefs and conflicts you have with yourself are often caused by the things you tell yourself. You are what you think. It’s like a domino effect: Your thoughts affect your emotions and your emotions affect your actions. So if you tell yourself you are not good enough, you will feel unworthy and so your actions will mirror that emotion.
So whenever you feel like you can’t do something, try some positive self-talk like: you’ve got this!
2. Give yourself the love that you deserve
The most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. When you hold yourself in high esteem, you’re more likely to choose things that nurture your well-being and serve you well.
3. Forgive Yourself
Forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. We’re all not perfect, we constantly make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes mean hurting others or sometimes we are the ones hurt by others. There are things that we wish we did and wished we didn’t do but there’s no room for what if’s or regrets. There’s no turning back time, all you can do is move forward and learn from those mistakes.
Holding on to feelings of anger, bitterness, shame, and resentment will only hold you back. You have to forgive yourself and those around you in order to move on. Whatever it is, you can’t get stuck in the past and drag down the possibilities of the future. It’s time to let it go and move forward by accepting all parts of yourself.
4. Stop underestimating yourself and overestimating others
While comparison can be a valuable source of motivation and growth, it can also cause us to underestimate ourselves or overestimate others.
You’ve got to realize that your situation doesn’t change by comparing your life to someone else. It only makes you resentful. You have nothing to do with other people. No matter what, there are really people who will excel and be better than you in some aspects, but you are also bound to be better at some things.
There’s just no comparison everyone is different. From the mix of genetics, background, influences, strengths, and weaknesses. There are also dreams and goals, life experiences, challenges, and heartaches that you do not see that you might not wish to have or experience. Sometimes we just see the highlights of a person’s life hence, we overestimate them.
Don’t waste your time and energy focusing on others. Instead, focus on yourself, and go at your own pace. “Don’t measure your progress using someone else’s ruler.”
5. Enough with the Self-Criticism
Be kind to yourself. Change what you can and accept what you can’t. Embrace your imperfections.
Everyone has their own set of insecurities, weaknesses, and flaws. People with high self-esteem, however, base their self-worth and confidence on their strengths. Accept your imperfections, work on your weaknesses and focus on affirming yourself when the going gets tough. The focus should be on what you’re doing right.
6. Put Yourself First
We can’t give what we don’t have, so when we take care of ourselves first we ensure that our care for others ultimately comes from a place of inner abundance, a feeling of already being taken care of from within.
Remind yourself that you are worthy and you deserve to be treated fairly. Sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish. Love Yourself first!
7. Identify What You Need and Want
Who do you want to be and what kind of life do you want to live? Being able to distinguish and prioritize your desires is essential to achieving your dreams and goals.
8. Quit Focusing on your Weaknesses
Weaknesses can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes our greatest strength could actually be hidden in our undeveloped weaknesses. So build them up.
9. Take Risks
Everyone has a dream but only a few turn them into reality. The majority of people feel safe when governed by rules and find comfort in the predictable. But many of life’s greatest achievements require going outside of your comfort zone. Putting yourself out there can lead you to so many roads, that you never even imagined, even failures turn out to be blessings in disguise.
10. Don’t Forget your Rights
Low self-esteem often breeds a victim mentality. They see the world as biased and unfair. They think that it’s only for the chosen few and that they should accept what is and avoid going after their dreams. They feel powerless when it comes to improving their circumstances in life.
It can be difficult to find the courage and confidence to assert yourself. But you should know that you have the right to be whoever you want to be. You have the right to pursue your passion. You have the right to be happy. Everyone who has ever gotten something they really wanted in life, worked hard for it and you can too. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
11. Saying No is as powerful as saying Yes
Saying No is as equally Powerful as saying Yes. ‘No’ liberates you, when ‘Yes’, commits you. People with low levels of self-esteem often fear social disapproval or rejection from other people. But NO gives you a sense of control, establishes your boundaries, and sets you free from commitments that are not beneficial to your life.