Low self-esteem affects every aspect of your life. It shows in how you look and how you interact with other people. Besides being visible to others, if you have a low opinion of yourself and your value, you may suffer from depression and your health may also be affected.
You have developed an opinion of yourself over a period of time. This opinion includes how much you feel valued and loved by others, and how much you value and love yourself. Your opinion of yourself may vary from one day to the next, but if you find you are in the habit of dwelling on short-comings and think you are worth less than other people, you are suffering from low self-esteem.
Some symptoms of low self-esteem are:
• Negative self-talk. You may constantly put yourself down and say things about yourself that you would never say about someone else.
• Frequently apologizing. You may take the blame for things that are not your fault.
• Focusing on your flaws. You see every little imperfection in yourself, and forget to notice what is good.
• Reject positive comments. If someone pays you a compliment, you respond with a negative statement such as, “No, I haven’t really lost that much weight.” Or “This old thing? I’ve had it forever.”
• Avoiding risk. You cling to what is familiar and are afraid to try new things. You talk yourself out of doing things that might raise your self-respect, such as returning to school or changing jobs.
• Avoiding eye contact. You have a hard time looking other people in the eye.
• Constantly seeking approval from others. You don’t feel satisfied until you know you have gotten approval or reassurance from other people. You are constantly asking others if they are mad at you or if they love you.
• Pessimism. You expect bad things to happen to you. You don’t notice the good things that happen to you on a daily basis.
You are not born with low self-esteem. It is something you have learned from your reactions to things that have happened to you and people you have interacted with. Each time you have an experience that makes you doubt yourself, if you hang onto it, your self-esteem is affected.
Self-esteem can be damaged when you spend a lot of time with people who are negative or who are in the habit of focusing on flaws. This could be your parents or your siblings or your spouse. If your boss never notices your accomplishment, your sense of self-worth may be affected. Worse still, if you spend time in an abusive relationship, you may on some level blame yourself and question your worth.
If you have made some large mistakes in your life, you may be dwelling on the idea that you’ll never succeed. For example, if you dropped out of school and can’t seem to find a job that pays more than minimum wage, your sense of self-worth has probably been damaged. If you have experienced disappointment in relationships, such as divorce, you may think you are at fault. The problem is you start to believe that you are going to continue to make mistakes, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Coping inappropriately with life’s disappointments can further damage your self-esteem. For example, if you go through a difficult divorce and you cope by abusing alcohol or by jumping into another destructive relationship, your opinion of yourself will get even worse. If you have tried to lose weight but failed repeatedly, going on an eating binge won’t improve your opinion of yourself.
Your inner critic is probably your worst enemy if you have low self-esteem. Your inner critic echoes the negative talk you’ve received from others, and you keep hearing put-downs in your mind long after they’ve stopped coming from others.
You didn’t develop low self-esteem overnight and you won’t make it go away overnight. If you really want to improve your opinion of yourself, you need to be committed to make a change. . First of all, work on believing that you deserve better. You deserve to be happy. You deserve respect from yourself and other people. You need to stop yourself any time you find yourself using negative self-talk or being pessimistic. Replace negative thoughts with self-praise and affirmations.
Consider whether the people around you drag you down or pick you up. You have the right to choose different companions. You can’t choose your family, but you can limit the amount of time you spend with negative family members. If you have to attend a family event that includes negative, critical people, be sure to also surround yourself with people who nurture you. If you can’t bring a supportive person to a family event such as a cookout or wedding, be sure to call someone who lifts you up as soon as you leave the family gathering.
As an adult, you are responsible for forming your own opinion of yourself. If your parents or other relatives have always put you down, it’s time to start speaking up for yourself. Get in the habit of praising yourself and noticing your accomplishments, however small they are. Think of yourself as your best friend and treat yourself with the same respect that you treat others.
It may be helpful to keep a journal of your accomplishments. At the end of each day, make a list of the things you’ve done right. Praise yourself for sticking to your diet, for sending out resumes, for not getting drawn into a fight with your spouse. Praise yourself for your efforts in improving your self-esteem and for taking charge of your life. Praise yourself for all you’ve survived.
Low self-esteem is something you’ve learned, so it’s also something you can unlearn. Choose to love and accept yourself at all times. Working on your self-esteem is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and before long you’ll notice every aspect of your life is looking better and better.Additional tips for developing self-esteem