Signs of Low Esteem - how to fix

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Don’t let life weigh you down

Do you hear voices inside your head? Saying…..

“You’re stupid.”

“You’re fat.”

“Nobody likes you.”

“You are a loser.”

“You should be quiet. Every time you talk you just make a fool of yourself.”

“Why can’t you be like other people?”

“You’re worthless.”

“No one respects you”

“You are such a joke”

“You are ugly”

That is your inner voice and critic continually nagging you with a barrage of negative thoughts about yourself and people around you.

And it can be very critical and hurtful with the capacity to decimating every shred of self-esteem left if it continues consistently.

How does it feel like having low esteem?

Low self-esteem is characterized by a lack of confidence and feeling badly about oneself. People with low self-esteem often feel unlovable, awkward, or incompetent. They have a fragile sense of self that can easily be wounded by others, and they tend to be hypersensitive and hyperalert to signs of rejection, inadequacy, and rebuff. They see rejection and disapproval even when there isn’t any.

Now while everyone’s self-esteem is vulnerable to other people, who may openly criticize them, ridicule them, or point out their flaws, an even greater threat to each person’s self-esteem lurks within.

Do you know anyone like this? Or could that person be you?

As observers of our own behavior, thoughts, and feelings, we not only register these phenomena in consciousness but also pass judgement on them. Thus, we may be our most severe critic, berating ourselves mercilessly when we find ourselves making an error in judgement, forgetting what we should remember, expressing ourselves awkwardly, breaking our most sacred promises to ourselves, losing our self-control, acting childishly—in short, behaving in ways that we regret and may deplore.

This harsh inner critic contributes to a negative perceived self and having a negative perception of oneself can have serious consequences. One of which could lead to depression.

For example, if someone believes that other people don’t like them, they are more likely to avoid interactions with others and are quicker to react defensively, cynically, or even lash out.

The nature and degree to which we interact with others is strongly influenced by these perceived selves, regardless of their accuracy. Indeed, our perceived selves represent one of the most important foundations on which our interpersonal behavior rests.

Furthermore, when we perceive ourselves negatively, whether we label ourselves awkward, unlovable, obnoxious, shy, etc., it becomes more and more difficult to believe that others could possibly see us in a positive light.

This sounds dreadfully miserable.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

There are several signs that either you or someone you know may be struggling with low self-esteem. Those signs of low self-esteem include:

Sensitivity to Criticism.

If you have low self-esteem you may be extra sensitive to criticism, whether from others or yourself. You see it only as reinforcing your flaws and confirming that you are incapable of doing anything right.

Social Withdrawal.

Declining invitations to go to a party or meet up with friends, canceling scheduled plans last-minute, and generally not wanting to be around others are signs of low self-esteem. You may not have any desire to hold a conversation or talk about your life because it will only reinforce the depression and anxiety you are already experiencing.

Hostility.

For someone with low self-esteem, lashing out or becoming aggressive towards others is a defense mechanism. If you feel that you are about to be exposed or criticized, attacking whoever might criticize you can be a sign of low self-esteem.

Excessive Preoccupation with Personal Problems.

Consistently worrying about your own personal issues takes up a lot of time for someone with low self-esteem. You may struggle to help or empathize with someone else’s problems because you are too preoccupied with your own.

Physical Symptoms.

Low self-esteem has been shown to lead to mental and physical health issues like depression, anxiety, and anorexia. It can also lead to unhealthy habits like smoking tobacco, alcohol abuse, or drug use.

Overcoming low self-esteem.

The good news is that it is entirely possible to overcome low self-esteem!

There are two key components to combatting this negative self-image. The first is to stop listening to your critical inner voice. The second is to start practicing self-compassion.

Stop Listening to Your Inner Critic

In order to overcome low self-esteem, it is essential that you challenge these negative thoughts and stand up to your inner critic.

The first step is to recognize when you start thinking these kinds of negative thoughts about yourself. Then, you can choose not to listen to your inner critic’s character assassinations or bad advice. It can be helpful to imagine how you would feel if someone else was saying these things to you; you’d probably feel angry and tell them to shut up or explain that they are wrong about you. Take this approach in responding to your inner critic.

One way to do this is to write down all your inner critic’s criticisms on one side of a piece of paper.

Then write down a more realistic and compassionate appraisal of yourself on the other side. For example, if you write a self-criticism like “You’re stupid,” you could then write, “I may struggle at times, but I am smart and competent in many ways.”

Challenging your inner critic helps stop the shame spiral that feeds into low self-esteem. When you recognize the critical inner voice as source of your negative self-attacks, you can begin to defy this inner critic and see yourself for who you really are.

Start Practicing Self-Compassion

In many ways, the cure for self-criticism is self-compassion. Self-compassion is the radical practice of treating yourself like a friend! It is a wonderful way to build more confidence in yourself. Research has shown that self-compassion is even better for your mental health than self-esteem.

Dr. Kristen Neff, who researches self-compassion, explains that self-compassion is not based on self-evaluation or judgement; rather, it is based on a steady attitude of kindness and acceptance toward yourself. While this may sound simple, treating yourself with compassion and kindness may be challenging at first. However, you will develop more self-compassion as you practice over time.

Here are the three steps for practicing self-compassion:

1) Acknowledge and notice your suffering.
2) Be kind and caring in response to suffering.
3) Remember that imperfection is part of the human experience and something we all share.

You can overcome low self-esteem with the right support, mindset, and change in behaviors. Let me however share more practical ways of dealing with Low Self-Esteem.

Identify Troubling Conditions and Situations.

Take a moment to think about certain conditions and situations in your life that seem to always deflate your self-esteem. It could be giving a work presentation, dealing with a difficult family member or friend, or facing a life-changing event, like a job loss or a move.

Become Aware of Your Thoughts and Beliefs.

After you’ve identified the times in your life where you have felt low self-esteem, evaluate your thoughts about them. How are you interpreting what happened? These thoughts could be either positive, negative, or neutral. They can be based on facts or irrational and false ideas.
If you take a moment to notice what you are thinking, you can begin to understand whether or not your reactions to what has happened are appropriate and useful.

Challenge Negative or Inaccurate Thoughts.

It is important to ask yourself whether your thoughts are consistent with facts or logic. There could be another explanation for a situation that is truer than your interpretation. Sometimes it is hard to break from long-held beliefs that have become part of your reality. Understand that it can take time and patience to overcome any negative preconceived notions toward your life that you’ve built up.

Adjust your mindset.

You’ve been able to identify the times where you’ve felt a blow to your self-esteem. You’ve become self-aware about how and why you have the thoughts and feelings towards those events. Now you can take a step back and analyze those thoughts and emotions. You now have the power to change your thought patterns to raise your self-esteem.

Remember to think and feel hopeful statements, focus on the positive aspects of all situations, and not be afraid to relabel upsetting thoughts. And most importantly, don’t hesitate to forgive yourself. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t make you a bad person—it just makes you human.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People.

Looking to boost your confidence by measuring yourself against others is a big mistake. Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average at the same time. There is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are.

When we evaluate ourselves based on external achievements, other people’s perceptions and competitions, “our sense of self-worth bounces around like a ping-pong ball, rising and falling in lock-step with our latest success or failure.” Social media only exacerbates this problem, as people post their picture-perfect moments and shiny achievements, which we compare to our tarnished, flawed everyday lives.

In order to build a healthy sense of confidence, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. Instead of worrying about how you measure up to the people around you, think about the type of person you want to be. Set goals and take actions that are consistent with your own values.

Live Up to Your Own Moral Code.

Self-confidence and self-esteem are built on self-RESPECT. If you live a life that is in line with your own principles, whatever they may be, you are more likely to respect yourself, feel more confident, and even do better in life. For example, a study at the University of Michigan found that students “who based their self-esteem on internal sources–such as being a virtuous person or adhering to moral standards–were found to receive higher grades and less likely to use alcohol and drugs or to develop eating disorders.”

To feel good about yourself, it is important to have integrity and make sure that your actions match your words. For example, if eating healthy and looking your best are important values to you, you will feel better if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When your actions don’t match your words, you are far more vulnerable to self-attacks. The inner critic loves to point out these shortcomings. It is valuable to think about your core principles and act in line with those beliefs when you are trying to boost your confidence.

Do Something Meaningful.

As human beings, we tend to feel good about ourselves when we do something meaningful, taking part in activities that are larger than ourselves and/or helpful to others. This is a beautiful way to go about building confidence and developing healthier levels of self-esteem.

Studies show that volunteering has a positive effect on how people feel about themselves. A researcher, Jennifer Crocker, suggests that you find “a goal that is bigger than the self.” When pursuing meaningful activities, it is important to think about what feels the most significant to you. For some people, this may mean volunteering at a homeless shelter, tutoring children, taking part in local politics, gardening with friends, etc.

Follow the breadcrumbs of where you find meaning, and you may find your self-esteem along the way.

Self-confidence can fuel success, while low self-esteem can impede it. To avoid falling into patterns of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, be deliberate about your thoughts and follow through on the suggestions above.

Cheers.

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11 thoughts on “Signs of Low Esteem – how to fix”

  1. AbdulSalam Rukayat folake

    This is worth spending time on
    I sure ve learnt one or two lessons
    Thanx Akin for dis beautiful piece….. U re indeed a super hero. Cheers darling

  2. This is a life changing truth “follow the breadcrumbs of where u find meaning, and you may find your self esteem along the way”
    Thanks Akin

  3. Be helpful to others!!!! This is me. I derive my opium from that. This is a beautiful piece from the amiable Duke himself. Thank you for all you do. God bless you. Been a Fan since time memorial.

  4. Wow. This is truly revealing. I remember when I failed out of unilag( i call it failed because it was my lowest point in life). These negative thoughts almost took my life but thank goodness to my ever caring parents who believed in my abilities and constantly encouraged me to be better and move past my failures. Thanks for sharing, I know a lot of friends who will need this.

    1. I am glad you had support from your folks and that you pulled through. I hope you will share your experience with others to encourage them to see beyond the challenges they are going through.

  5. Adedamola Ilori

    Hmm.. very revealing, In the past,I’ve constantly had a feeling of rejection or not being accepted by others based on how I’ve scored myself but am glad it bolsters me rather than deflate me now.

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