Having a hard time lately? Are you feeling unloved and unappreciated? Do you feel like giving up on life? Do you find yourself pretending to be someone else just so that you can feel better about yourself?
Do you constantly talk down to yourself, devalue your self-worth or are constantly putting other people down? Are you still carrying guilt or shame about your past or even your present situations?
Do you constantly worry about the future and what life would be like for you then?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who feel trapped just like you do and exhibit signs of low self-esteem.
They constantly blame others for what’s happening in their lives and make the other person out to be the bad guy. They have the worst outlook on life.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t believe in myself. I was my worst critic. Moreover, I was my worst enemy. I gave my power over to fear and worst yet, I lost my God-given authentic being to the monster of low self-esteem.
I was a bitter and angry person on the inside. Negative thinking got the best of me.
I never thought that I could survive after my marriage fell apart, and right after it did, my life spiraled out of control and my deep longing to be loved and accepted caused me to be in relationships with the wrong people.
This was accompanied by an internal revolution that began to manifest itself into raging generalized anxiety, and unexplained physical pains and other illnesses.
I became very codependent on others and worst yet, on prescription drugs and medication just so I could numb my pain and not have to think about the future of me living a single life again.
Fortunately, with the help of a caring pastor and counselor, I was led to give my heart to God and subsequently, was able to break free from these self-destructive beliefs and behaviors and to know I was deserving of far better for myself.
So, if you are going through a low self-esteem phase in your life, or you frequently feel bad about yourself, then in order to live a life filled with confidence and joy, you will need the mental tools to help you rewire or recalibrate your thoughts and to bring you back into a positive mindset.
What is self-esteem?
First, before I provide the tools and strategies, let’s hear what self-esteem is all about. Self-esteem is the personal value, self-respect and self-worth that you lace upon yourself.
Symptoms of low self-esteem
How do you know that you are suffering from low self-esteem? Here are the most common low self-esteem symptoms:-
- Indecisiveness in making decisions – trouble making slightest decisions such as what to wear
- Perfectionism – trying to do everything perfect in what you do can lead to self-blame when it’s done incorrectly
- Shame – repeatedly carrying the shame of your past or even present
- Inability to handle even the slightest of criticism
- Negative thinking and negative self-talk
- Overly critical of yourself and others – making others out to be the bad one just to feel good about yourself.
- Frequently put other people down
- Trying to be someone else to bring pleasure and relief to yourself
- Constant worry and anxiety about present and future life
- Pessimistic – you have a grim outlook on life
- You no longer care about how you look or appear to others
- Constantly blaming others for what’s taking place in your life
- Always making excuses as to why you don’t want to do something
- Bottle up your feelings on the inside – inability to express them
- Codependency – your need for acceptance and validation by others often lead you to get into dysfunctional relationships
- Inability to laugh and always taking things too serious
- Constantly isolating yourself from family and friends
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Look to material possessions as the source of your happiness
- Afraid of change and to venture into new experiences
Sources of low self-esteem
Take it from me who’s experienced low self-esteem, while it can originate from external sources, history of our past and our primary caregiver relationships often shape our opinions about ourselves.
- Parents or authority figures who were disapproving – many grew up with excessive criticisms and disapproval no matter what you did or how hard you tried. You may have even heard you will never amount to anything. The sad thing is that it is difficult to build a positive image about yourself in this type of environment.
- Parents and caregivers who are uninvolved or too pre-occupied with themselves to give you the attention you need. Think back on the time you were growing up, and you longed for their attention. Such situations left you feeling as though you were the forgotten and unimportant person in the room, and that what you did had no value.
- Being in an environment where parents, caregivers and authority figures are constantly in conflict – children absorb the negative emotions from situations like these. Not only that, but children tend to feel as though they are the ones to be blamed for their parents or the adult’s conflict and problems.
- Bullying from parents who are either unsupportive or over supportive – this type of parenting leave children so unprepared and ill-equipped for the cruel world
- Trauma – from physical, sexual or emotional abuse can result in damaging effects on a person and greatly impact their self-esteem leaving you to feel worthless, devalued and cause you to have the feeling of nothingness.
- Social media – it is no secret that there is a high degree of bullying that goes on in cyberspace in social media, and loaded with so much unrealistic expectations and standards. You are left vulnerable as your imperfections can out of the blue be blasted on social media, leaving you with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem?
If you or someone you know is having low self-esteem, the reality is that it affects every area of your life and can rob you of happiness, joy, peace and enjoyment of life in general.
The good news is that you can overcome it if you are willing to work at it. It will not happen overnight, but with one step at a time, the battle can be won and the payoff great.
Here are some ways that you can overcome low self-esteem:-
- Carefully identify the thoughts, feelings, symptoms and behavior that are causing you to have low self-esteem. Jot them down if needs be so that you can know specifically your target/s or what you need to work on for improvement.
Action tip: Start a journal to document your journey to recovery. Aside from writing down the things that are causing you the low self-esteem, celebrate every small success you’ve made.
- Listen and pay very close attention to your inner monologue [voice you hear inside your head]. This can be anything from “I’m too fat/thin/old/young/ugly. I just don’t have skills to get the job done. Why bother anyway. I’m a total failure. Nothing ever works for me. I’m bad lucky. No matter what I do, they won’t like me anyway. I don’t care. I want nothing to do with….I’m just going to stay to myself.”
Action tips: For every negative, you must begin to replace with positive thoughts and affirmations –“I am beautiful and desirable. I am talented. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am capable of getting the job done. I am equipped with endless possibilities. Mistakes and failures are good and is part of my growth package.”
- Know what you like about yourself – realize your true self is more interesting than your mask and the person inside of you who is dying for the world to meet is authentic and far more interesting than the one you are pretending to be.
Action tips: Take a moment and write down at least six things that you like about yourself. Take some more time and expand upon the list, go for about twenty five things. There are so many things for you to discover about yourself that when you do, you will immediately cut down on your negative self-talk and finding of fault with others.
- Rather than isolating yourself, start spending more time with the people who will uplift you, support your vision and dream and who will hold you accountable without being judgmental of you in the process.
Action tips: Contrary to traditional views that counseling is another sign of your weakness and embarrassment, seeking help from a trained counselor is very courageous. This is the person who can help you heal of your past wounds that led to low self-esteem. This is where new behaviors will be taught to you and where you can begin to love and respect yourself once again. Realize you deserve so much better in life.
- Know what is causing you low self-esteem – look for the physical signs around you. These are referred to as the triggers or the things that cause you to go into full blown low self-esteem to the point where you begin to think, speak and act out in negative and undesirable ways.
Action tip: Triggers that you have identified t your workplace, speak to your immediate boss about it so that the problem can be rectified. Move away from the source. If you are studying and constantly get low grades, join study groups or even stay back after class to get the extra help you need.
- Use positive affirmations as a way of rewiring your thought process on how you think and feel about yourself. Comparing yourself to others is a toxic behavior and is strongly forbidden.
Action tip: Revisit the list of things that you like about yourself and turn these into “I am” statements about yourself. “I am successful. I am at peace with myself and those who hurt me in the past no longer have the power to do so. I am healed. I am blessed.”
- Find funny things to laugh about – this could be in the form of a movie, a book or even a trusted friend who give jokes and can awaken the sense of humor on the inside of you.
Action tip: Find a good comedy book to read or go online and search for funny jokes.
- Treat yourself to something special and even give yourself a makeover. Release your past through forgiveness and most of all, pray and ask God to help you to overcome your low self-esteem.
Never allow the feelings of low self-esteem to consume your life, rather, take control of your thoughts and by reminding yourself what a beautiful, smart and intelligent person you are. As you begin to utilize these strategies and learn new ways of thinking and new behavior, the results will be astonishing and you will regain your confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
Let’s talk it over
Was this post beneficial to you? What about this post impacted you the most? What other sources of low self-esteem you know of not mentioned in this post? What other ways to overcome low self-esteem you will like to see mentioned? What is your main take away from it?
Yvonne I. Wilson is a positive thinker, a catalyst for change, and a conduit through which holistic healing takes place and destiny is fulfilled. Her ministry through her blog Empowerment Moments came at a very low point in her life and was born out of much adversity, persecution, physical abuses, and rejection to the point of her being suicidal. She was left feeling defeated and shrunk back by fear. But through some miraculous means, God has given her pain purpose and a unique voice through which He speaks to touch the untouchable, to reach the unreachable and to empower, inspire, motivate, encourage and uplift the hurting and spiritually wounded to bring about healing, wholeness – mind, body, soul and spirit, one person at a time.