Low self-esteem can color just about every aspect of life - it makes people feel as though they're not good enough, can't do enough, and simply aren't enough. Those who have low-self-esteem can get really depressed - it's hard to listen to the negative feelings inside tell you that you're not worth it.
How To Help Yourself If You Have Low Self-Esteem:
There are a lot of proposed reasons as to why one person develops low self-esteem and another doesn't. Low self-esteem seems to be caused by a mix of nature and nurture (or, your personality and environment). What matters most, though, is not how you got here, but how you can get out of here and begin to develop healthy self-esteem. Here are some ideas for developing better self-esteem.
First Things First: Figure Out Why You Have Low Self-Esteem:
1) Identify situations that trigger feelings of low self-esteem. These can be work presentations, home crises, problems with a spouse, child, loved one, or coworker, or a change in life circumstances.
2) After you identify the triggering situations, pay attention to what your brain tells you about them, especially self-talk (what you tell yourself) and how you perceive the situation. These thoughts and beliefs can be good, bad, or neither. They can be rational, irrational, or based upon false ideas.
3) Question your negative or false thinking. Make sure your thoughts coincide with the facts of the situation. This can be challenging - most of us have long-standing beliefs and thoughts.
4) Replace these negative thoughts and beliefs with accurate and constructive thoughts.
Ways to Effectively Boost Your Self-Esteem:
Use hopeful statements - pessimism can easily become a self-fulfilling prophesy. "I can do this, even though it's hard," rather than, "I'm going to fail at this."
Avoid using any "shoulds," "oughts," or "musts" in your self-talk. These are statements that put unreasonable demands upon yourself - remove these words from your innermost thoughts about yourself and a situation.
Forgive yourself. No one is perfect - NO ONE. Mistakes don't mean that you're a failure - you simply made a mistake, nothing more. Making a mistake doesn't make you a good or bad person.
Make a list of ten or fifteen traits or things that you have done well. These don't have to be "curing cancer," but can be as simple as, "I am a great pet owner." This will help combat the "always" and "never" feelings (I always fail, I never win) and help you to see that you DO have worth.
Focus upon your good qualities (I am a great pet owner, I am an excellent writer) rather than your less positive qualities (I am not a great housekeeper, I am not a good driver).
People with low self-esteem are their own worst enemy - their own biggest critic. Start thanking people when you get a compliment.
Remember that your self-talk could be wrong. Just because your brain says it, doesn't mean it's true!
You will not please everyone. It does not matter how hard you try - there's simply no way to please everyone.
You do not need the approval of everyone else to make yourself happy - you won't get 100% approval always, no matter what. You owe it to YOU to do what is best for YOU in a given situation.
Rather than bristle or get your feelings hurt when someone gives you a piece of negative feedback (your report was sloppy), thank the person for their advice and ask what you can do differently in the future. Having concrete ideas for improvement can stop you from spinning in a downward spiral of self-loathing.
Avoid unreasonable guilt. You'll probably never be able to completely rid yourself of the guilt-feelings, but getting rid of unreasonable guilt is important. Start small - say "no" when you mean no.
Every situation has its positive. Every one. Instead of looking at the big, negative picture, begin to look for the small beams of positive in each situation - no matter how dire. They are there. It's up to you to find them.
Stop calling yourself names. Catch yourself each time you start spiraling down that road and rather than saying, "I'm a gigantic failure," say, "I'm not perfect at everything I try to do. But that's okay - no one is."
Low self-esteem feeds on negative thoughts - don't indulge them whenever possible. Get up, take a walk, listen to some songs for self-esteem, however it is that you manage to banish negative thoughts.
Take yourself less seriously. It's easy to feel that life is very, very serious, but in the end, it's not. Learn to laugh at yourself.
Make sure that you properly reward yourself when you successfully complete or achieve something.
Encourage yourself - give yourself credit for the smallest victory. Those small victories can lead to much bigger ones down the road. It can be as simple as "I'm going to get up and go to work today."
Do something you've been putting off. Call your aunt back. Finish those thank-you cards. Get your hair dyed. Whatever it is you've been putting off - DO IT.
Do something you know you're good at. Try to engage in that activity at least once a week.
Relax. Stop spinning your brain around and relax. Take a bath, take a walk, meditate, and stop focusing upon what's ailing you at the moment.
Be mindful of judgmental thoughts - find a way to reframe these thoughts in to neutral fact statements. Instead of "The tomato is rotten," it is "The tomato is more ripe than I prefer to eat." Not "I'm stupid for failing the test," it is "I did not receive the score I hoped for on this test." This can allow you to come up with concrete responses. If you did not receive the score you hoped for, you can cue yourself to study harder for the next one, increasing your score.
Don't compare yourself to others. Your experience is just as valid as the next person's experience, and you feel your situation how you feel it.
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