Some of us are born into environments that nurture self esteem, others come into the world in conditions that stifle self esteem.
Me included. My parents weren’t even aware of the concept, let alone possessing a clue of how to nurture it. My parents did the best they could, but they, also, weren’t born into the best of conditions. They fed us, clothed us, and certainly loved us, even though there were conditions with that love. We didn’t lack for much. Except for self esteem. How do improve low self esteem in an environment that stifles it?
Which of these two environments were you born into?
Self esteem is that all encompassing personality aspect that is SO important in everything we do. This little attitude toward ourselves is arguably the biggest obstacle in the human psyche. And it affects everyone. Good self-esteem propels you to great heights, colors your world with a full palette of the richness of life.
Low self-esteem leaves you lacking in every aspect of your life, from friendship and relationships to career choices to how you view every little speed bump we all encounter in life. Low self-esteem is colored by the grays and shadows of the corner of a dark alley, unable to feel like you are a part of the rainbow of a world we live in.
Just as importantly, are there other people you are concerned with over this issue?
How do we improve low self-esteem?
How do we boost our self-esteem to the height of a self actualized adult. It’s certainly not measured in feet or pounds. Fortunately there are ways to determine what level your self-esteem is at! And then once you have an idea, you can start to work on your self-esteem.
According to the NetDoctor, there are 8 things that are signs of low self-esteem.
- You hate yourself
- You’re obsessed with being perfect
- You hate your body
- You think you bring nothing to the table
- You’re oversensitive
- You’re fearful and anxious
- You’re often angry
- You’re a people pleaser
Let’s walk down this list right quick.
You hate yourself.
Everything you do you look at critically as if you know you can’t do anything right so you’re going to look for the fault. You can never say anything right, you should have said it different. And you were born into the wrong body/life and you hate it. This manifests itself in not taking care of yourself, no drive to accomplish anything, no reason to change, and no respect for yourself.
You’re obsessed with being perfect.
Your makeup has to be perfect, your job has to be perfect, your car has to be perfect, your relationship has to be perfect, your mate has to be perfect. If you go out for a night on the town, it has to be a 10 or it’s a total failure. Your whole life is either a 10 or it’s not worth living. Most people who are arrogant or ultra-narcissistic actually have no self-esteem. They have to appear perfect… but at the expense of everyone around them.
You hate your body.
It’s too skinny. It’s too fat. The legs are too short, the arms are too long, the nose is too long. The teeth aren’t even white. Everything about your body is lousy and out of 7 billion bodies on the planet, you can’t believe you got stuck in this one. That’s why you talk about it like it is it’s own entity, like it’s an “it”, not a “me” not really part of you.
You think you bring nothing to the table.
You have nothing to offer so why open your big mouth when you have a valid or different opinion. Why try to play softball/soccer/sing Karaoke if you don’t have anything to contribute. Why even try, there is nothing there worth revealing. This is the epitome of the wall flower.
If someone mentions anything about the “F” word, (fat, not the other “F” word, *laugh*) you think they are referring to you. If someone wants to have a normal discussion about anything, you take it as a personal attack. Your kids are throwing rocks at cars and all of a sudden you’re the worst parent in the world, the neighbors are accusing you of eating your young and you don’t feed them anything, let alone give them a roof over their heads. You drive down the road and anyone who passes you, in your mind, are yelling at you asking why you think you can drive, so you flip them off.
You’re fearful and anxious.
Every stranger is someone about to pull out a firearm and shoot you. Every candidate not on your side of the ballot ticket is going to steal your house, and livelihood. And as you go into the store you get this odd feeling that everyone is watching you, and that feels extremely uncomfortable. You just know anyone and everyone is out to get you, which causes constant anxiety.
You’re often angry.
Everything and everyone makes you angry, the clothes need transferred to the dryer, that makes you angry. The teacher calls to tell you Bobby did a great job today, that makes you angry because they are mocking him. Everything just flat out rubs you the wrong way.
You’re a people pleaser.
You feel you need to open the door for everyone. And if you don’t open the door for them, you get angry at them because you just KNOW they are calling you fat under their breath. So you open the door for everyone, you thank everyone profusely for nothing, you do things for people you hate doing, just so they will like you. You couldn’t say no to someone if you tried. Which means you also won’t refuse advances from people who would NEVER make a good mate for you, then you feel terrible afterward.
How to work on your self-esteem.
If any one of these sound like you, or even several of them, then you need to work on the ole self-esteem. I know several of these did hit the familiarity button for me, especially earlier in my life when I didn’t have ANY self-esteem. And as I gained self-esteem some of them became just a phase in my life. The sequence I followed was 1, then 3, then 5 and 4, then 7. It was an interesting trip!
And now that you know the face of low self-esteem, let’s talk about how to overcome it. And don’t worry, you will never take the journey to self-esteem and end up someone who is disliked. People flock to individuals who have good self-esteem!
“The better self-esteem you have, the more people want to be a part of your life.” — Steve Meyer
Work on getting rid of the self-hate.
You know we are all human, we all make mistakes, so why do you feel you aren’t allowed to make them. Mistakes are how we learn to improve. Mistakes are only opportunities to excel by doing it better the next time. Even if it takes 100 tries to get it right, you’re human, your’e allowed those 100 tries. Edison failed 1000 times before he perfected the light bulb.
Look in the mirror and say, “You’re OK, you are only human.” Realize you are much worse on yourself than anyone else is. Whatever it is that you don’t like, forgive yourself for it, change it if possible, and move on. When you hear yourself saying bad things in the back of your mind, change it right then and there, correct that negative self talk.
EVERY time you look in the mirror from now on, tell yourself you’re wonderful. You were born to be you and the challenges you face will make you unique in all the 7 billion other people on the planet.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
― Sharon Salzberg
Work on releasing the need for perfection.
Because no one is perfect, not even those skinny models in the bikinis. it’s OK to be average, because being average is still being unique. Your job is only a job, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Going out on the town doesn’t need to be a 10. Because if it isn’t, you missed a good time in all the other 3’s through 9’s. And if you find you’re having a 1 or 2, chalk it up as where not to go, and go home with the lesson learned!
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ― Mark Twain
Take care of your your body, no more hating it.
It’s your body, if it isn’t exactly the way you want it, you have control to change it. One of the best self-esteem boosters is to start an exercise program. You will immediately start to feel better and as time goes on, you’ll look in the mirror and see a little less spare tire here, a little more muscle there and that will feel awesome!
You then realize you really are in control of your health as well as your destiny. If it’s a physical ailment, set up a doc’s appointment, don’t let it go any longer, get help with it now so you know you CAN change it to what you want. It’s your body, treat it like the temple it is. You reside in that temple, take care of it.
“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”
― Iyanla Vanzant
Start bringing everything to the table.
You know a LOT of stuff. You know how to do your job, you know what having a good time is, you have interests, you have favorite foods. Even Macaroni and Cheese. You would not believe how many people, even in adulthood, deep down inside, love Macaroni and Cheese.
You are holding onto and hiding all that worth that makes you who you are. All you have to do is start talking about it. They DESERVE to hear from you. Try it. Just blurt it out. “When I was a kid, my favorite meal was… [INSERT MAC N CHEESE HERE].” “When I grow up, I want to be a… [INSERT INSURMOUNTABLE AMBITION HERE].” Do a little dreaming. What WOULD your favorite job be?
“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Work on being less sensitive.
Whatever someone else says, it is their opinion and their view. Listen to what they are saying, is it really a personal affront to you? If it is, you can stand up for yourself if you feel it’s untrue, or take it as constructive criticism, and work on it. No need to internalize what anyone else is saying.
“Sometimes our thoughts are backed by so much insecurity, that they create lies we believe“–Anon
Work on the fear and anxiety.
It’s okay to be cautious. It’s also okay to assess the situation and make a good sound decision to pursue that path or not. There is nothing wrong with being cautious. But when it turns into fear that keeps you from filling out that job application, or meeting that person who you are attracted to for coffee, then you need to do something about it.
Anxiety usually means you do not trust yourself to handle any given situation. Without looking incompetent. But you can, you are only human, and no matter how the situation turns out, you will survive it and learn from it. Your self-esteem will improve as you encounter situations that you can overcome.
Be in the mindset that adversity is your opportunity to learn and excel, and facing your fears will do just that. Many years ago I decided that this mindset was crucial to my self esteem. So I started rock climbing, that boosted my self esteem to monumental heights the first time I rappelled off a 75 ft cliff. Read the book, “Feel The Fear, And Do It Anyway,” by Susan Jeffers.
“Stress is an ignorant state. It believes everything is an emergency.” — Natalie Goldberg
Work on the anger.
You make mistakes, other people make mistakes, it’s all part of being human. Sometimes you are mad at yourself because you aren’t sure of your ability to handle a situation and instead of recognizing that, you blame anyone and everyone so you walk around mad at them.
Not opening up about what angers you, just turns it around on your inner self, affecting your self-esteem. It’s okay to work through that anger, let that person know what angers you, but do it in a civil manner, and try to work it out with that person. Don’t lay blame on them, it’s your anger not theirs.
If it isn’t possible to work it out with the particular person, such as a boss or an ex, talk it out with your best friend, let the anger go, then thank your friend for listening!
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
― Ambrose Bierce
Work on saying no to people and respecting your own needs.
You can say no. You can also make your own choice and pursue it. Take care of yourself and let them take care of themselves. People are going to love you for who you are, not what you do for them. Read the book, “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” By Manuel Smith. Great book!
“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
― Frederick Douglass
Who do you know that exhibits one or more of these traits?
Chances are, they are stuck at the bottom of a pit of despair and can’t even admit they are down there, let alone know how to get out. Certainly strike up a conversation about the subject, let them know you’ve been having trouble and invite them to follow along with your journey of discovery. Maybe just maybe, they will take your lead and help themselves.
Maybe helping them will help your own SELF ESTEEM!
And hang in there.
Self esteem is a common problem, but you don’t HAVE to live with it.
The first big step is being willing to accept that you have a problem with it. And one of the signature aspects of low self-esteem is the fact that you cannot take criticism, so you cannot admit you need help. It’s a self actualizing prophecy.