Low Self-Esteem, Its Signs and How to Improve it
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the set of beliefs, insights, assessments and thoughts that we have about ourselves. It is the assessment that we make based on our experiences.
Our self-esteem determines our behaviors, decisions, relationships, and feelings. Good self-esteem allows us to achieve our life goals and desires. Improve our performance and enjoy the results. So, if you really do want to enjoy your life strengthen your self-esteem.
Your self-esteem is the judgment you have of yourself bases on your beliefs and previous performances. When you have good self-esteem, you tend to think positively and optimistically about yourself and about life. When in life you make an achievement, you feel confident in yourself and your self-esteem increases in general.
However, in low self-esteem, you tend to see yourself and your future more negatively and critically. When you conduct any mistake and face any failure in life, your self-esteem decreases. You take it on the heart and negative thoughts are created in your mind about yourself. You criticize yourself and you might also feel anxious, depressed, or unmotivated.
Low self-esteem leads to a negative perception of oneself, and it is a factor that can limit us greatly in our daily life. Low self-esteem leads to other types of problems that are the supposed cause for which they go to the psychologist, problems such as symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, behavior problems, addictions, etc.
“The person who doubts his worth is like a man who enlists himself in the ranks of the enemy and charges his weapons against himself.” Alexander Dumas (French novelist).
Self-esteem and your way of living:
How do you feel when you fail or can’t get what you want?
- You get angry and look guilty.
- You get upset and stop insisting.
- Also, you become infatuated and say that you, nothing and nobody defeats you. And
- You analyze your goals and your behaviors, correct mistakes and feel motivated to try again.
How do you respond when someone criticizes you?
- You get upset and think about criticizing him, to make him feel bad.
- You feel devalued, humiliated or ashamed because others realize your shortcomings.
- Think how you show yourself, nobody criticizes you. You listen to the criticism.
- If you decide that he is right, you take it into account to change your behavior. If you think it doesn’t, you ignore it and forget about the situation.
Two questions are not enough to determine our level of self-esteem. However, they can guide us to see the kind of self-esteem we have.
Answers 1 and 2, in both questions, would be given by a person with low self-esteem. The 3 or a similar one would be given by inflated self-esteem and only the 4 would indicate higher self-esteem.
Our way of responding to a situation does not depend on what happens, but on what we think in relation to what is happening and on the level of our self-esteem.
- If we have low self-esteem, we get angry, distressed, depressed, etc. and we look for guilty or justifications.
- If it is inflated, we refuse to accept anything that indicates weakness, mistakes, failures, etc. On the other hand:
- If we have high self-esteem, we don’t feel upset.
- We give it the importance it has, neither greater nor less, and we seek appropriate conduct.
Moreover, we analyze it; observe its relationship with us or its consequences and act accordingly.
We all have an image of ourselves. This image was formed, especially during our childhood, based on our experiences and the opinion of people important to us. We rate that image and the result of that evaluation is our self-esteem.
But this picture may be wrong as it depends on: The subjective and personal opinion of others and the way we were brought up. That is why a person’s self-esteem does not reflect what the person is.
For example, Enrique and Arturo are 8 years old.
They both love track and field and are running and jumping all day. They both have 9 in math.
Enrique’s father is very proud.
- He supports him, motivates him and shows his affection.
- He accompanies him to competitions and celebrates his triumphs.
While Arturo’s father is very angry:
- He scolds him, telling him that he is a fool and irresponsible for wasting time and not dedicating himself to studies.
- He says that if he continues like this, he will be a “nobody”.
How do you think both children feel?
How do you think they will feel as adults, if the attitude of the parents continues the same, in this and other aspects?
Is Enrique “good” and Arturo “bad?
Why if they do the same?
The opinion of the parents is based on their own beliefs and what they have experienced.
For one, sport is excellent, so important or perhaps more than other activities and the other is a waste of time.
Who is right?
It depends on the person’s opinion; their own tastes, preferences and experience. As you can see, what we think and we feel about ourselves and the way to qualify us is learned.
If from childhood they made us feel that we were important and worthy of being loved, most likely now, as adults, we have good self-esteem. We love each other and feel safe, capable, and worthy of love and respect.
If we were ignored, criticized and we grew up with the message of: “you are not worth it”, “you are not productive” “you are bad”, etc., our self-esteem is surely low and we continue to treat ourselves the same way as they treated us.
If you have low self-esteem, it is probably the result of wrong ideas and beliefs, which you learned from people who were also educated in the same way.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stay like this for the rest of your life. By working it properly, you can strengthen and elevate it.
The objective of this topic is that you can improve your self-esteem and/or that you help the little ones to grow up with good self-esteem.
That is why I recommend that you read the articles on the meaning of self-esteem, the different types or levels: high, low and inflated.
Answering the questionnaire can give you some interesting and important information.
To correct or strengthen our level of self-esteem, it is necessary to understand how it was formed.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem in a Person:
Many times we confuse the low self-esteem of those around us with negativity. Fear of error, negative feelings and thoughts, frustration, dissatisfaction, Fear of Change! All these symptoms indicate that a person suffers from low self-esteem, and we should do everything possible to change the situation.
Low self-esteem is a problem for the physical and psychological health of those who suffer, and regain that self-confidence will help improve the same health and purify his soul. But first, you have to know how to detect the symptoms of low self-esteem in a person.
How low self-esteem manifests?
As we said before, negativity is one of the most obvious symptoms of low self-esteem. Though, many times we confuse it with that person’s personality. Pessimism, negativity, lack of ambition, despite not being satisfied with what a person has and the lack of self-confidence when facing new challenges are some of the obvious symptoms of low self-esteem. This insecurity is noticeable both in their way of acting and when they speak: their speech is not firm; they do not lend themselves to discussion or debate.
That negativity is also reflected in fear, another evidence of low self-esteem. When we speak of fear, we refer to the fear itself when facing problems or launching new projects, a fear of change, of the unknown, which also becomes fear of abandonment.
In fact, people with low self-esteem are usually reluctant to change. They consider it something negative that will force them to face new situations far from their comfort zone. We also have to talk about fear of others, camouflaged in the form of mistrust.
A person with low self-esteem will generally believe that the world is going against him. The fact of always living on the defensive means that, when they receive a compliment, they interpret it as a mockery; and they are only left with criticism or negative comments because inside there is something that prevents them from overcoming fear. But this fear of what others say is not incompatible with emotional dependence or Fear of Failure. They need someone by their side, a stronger person to protect them.
Precisely from that leader, that protective shield, idealize all talents, giving them an exaggerated dimension. However, they will not value their talents or aptitudes in their fair measure, they will undervalue them and they will undervalue themselves.
Another characteristic of people with low self-esteem is related to their physical appearance, as they do not take care of it. This is something that manifests itself in many ways: they do not buy new clothes. They do not fix themselves; they may have hygiene problems … which sometimes end in depression. It is often accompanied by an unhealthy lifestyle.
How can I increase my self-esteem?
It is easy to increase your low self-esteem; you just have to put in a little effort. But first, look at yourself and go through a self-reflection process. If you have the following problems in your day-to-day life;
What symptoms can tell me that I have low self-esteem?
- I have no confidence in myself.
- I do not express my likes or opinions for fear of being rejected or thinking that my opinions do not have the same value as the opinions of others.
- It is difficult for me to finish what I start since I am very easily demotivated.
- I don’t feel worthy of the good things in life.
- I do not make an effort to get what I want because in advance I think I will not achieve it.
- Also, I do not relate to others as I would like because I think that I am not going to do it well and they will put me aside.
- I’m afraid to say what I feel no longer; maybe others don’t like what I say.
- I need the approval of others very often.
- I usually attribute my achievements to external causes and my failures to internal causes.
- I’m almost never happy with what I do as I think I could be better
- I do not feel happy.
- I feel nervous most of the day.
- It is almost impossible for me to take the initiative I feel guilty
- I feel unattractive and I envy the lives of others.
- I feel like I have nothing to contribute.
If you have felt this way several times, the rest of your problems may come from having low self-esteem. Let’s try to solve it with some exercises so that you begin to value yourself and believe in yourself. You could be very surprised at your abilities if you work hard to improve your self-esteem.
Many people wonder if there is a way to improve their own self-esteem. Obviously, there is no magic potion, but we must be aware that only each person can improve in this sense based on perseverance and following some advice based on scientific evidence.
1. Stop beating yourself up:
We have to be realistic with both our strengths and our shortcomings. We are not perfect, but the intention is not to be. The goal is to be happy. So, to achieve this we must accept the things that we do not do so well and learn from them. And of course, not downplaying the things we know how to do well, but valuing them as they deserve.
We are going to observe and be aware of how good we are, and how good we do. Why keep thinking I’m a mess. Where has this kind of reasoning led me?
2. Start thinking positive:
Change your thoughts. The “I can’t” for “I’m going to try”, “I’m going to be successful” and “I’m going to do well.” It seems like a cliché, but forcing yourself a little to look at the good things in life can help us get out of the negative dynamic. If we realize that we have many things to value, it is easier for us to get out of the negative loop.
3. Set realistic goals:
Set realistic and S.M.A.R.T. Goals and that you can comply. Goals that are relatively easy to reach. Little by little, we can increase them, and we will see that step by step we are achieving what we propose. If we fail, let’s learn from it without blaming ourselves for our mistakes, as failing is a way of knowing how to do it differently next time. Love to take risks in life and dare to face challenges.
4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone:
Each person has his own world and you are the owner of yours. Focus on yourself. By envying and idealizing the lives of others, the only thing we will achieve is to feel miserable. We all have something good to contribute in our own way, and it is up to us to find the right path.
5. Accept and forgive yourself:
Write a letter in which you describe everything you don’t like about yourself and everything you feel guilty about. Don’t miss anything. Read it carefully and assess what you can improve. Say goodbye to that letter and break it into a thousand pieces. From that moment on, start from scratch, with everything you have learned but leaving guilt behind, far away from the present. You still have time to make a clean slate.
6. Make constructive criticism about yourself:
Constructive criticism will give motivation and power to face challenges boldly. Accept yourself and everything you tell yourself serves to improve, not to stagnate and blame yourself. Also, learn to accept criticism in a way that does not affect you.
7. Treat yourself with love and admiration:
You are the best thing that ever happened to you, so show yourself. You have the right to be happy and to make others happy by infecting them with your optimism.
8. Give yourself time:
Spare some time to build yourself up. Focus on your routines and spend some time alone to increase your creativity. Do activities that make you happy. It is the best way to find yourself and develop your skills slowly but surely. Do you know the Unexpected Benefits of Spending Time Alone?
9. Overcome your ballast:
There are people who live dragging backpacks full of weight: jobs that do not satisfy them, relationships that do not contribute anything, habits that they do not like … To overcome all these burdens, it is necessary to take some control over the situation, think positively and try to change them.
10. Every night before bed:
Keep an eye on your daily activities, achievements and failures. Think about the good things that the day has brought you, the challenges you face, the mistakes you have made and how you can improve.
Practice these things in your daily life for at least 90 days and you will see its productive results. You will see a major improvement in your self-esteem and also in your personality.
Generally, overcoming low self-esteem is a process that takes a lot of time, focus, constant effort and patience. Of course, there’ll be times where you feel exhausted and like there’s no change or you’re wasting your time. There will also be moments when you’ll give up and want to associate with those same people with no purpose in life. Don’t let these moments stop you from your journey to strengthen your self-esteem. Stand with upright shoulders and persevere your bumps, and in the end, you’ll achieve your goals and live a happy, successful life.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Huma Ansari, (Ph.D. Psychology from Lahore College For Women University).