Many of us are often besieged by a damaging perception, a beast that lurks within the shadows of our minds, frequently named as low self-esteem. It is a pernicious adversary that nibbles away at our self-worth, whispering harsh comparisons and feeding off our insecurities. But remember, we are not born with low self-esteem – it is an acquired narrative, and just as it is learned, it can be unlearned.
Self-esteem revolves around the perception of self. It is a deeply ingrained belief system that we build over time through experiences and interpretations. People with low self-esteem often harbour a negative perception of their worth and abilities, which further impacts their decisions, relationships, and overall quality of life.
Low self-esteem can be traced back to numerous sources such as negative childhood experiences, bullying, trauma, or persistent failures. These adverse experiences may imprint a negative narrative within the individual’s mind, making them feel inferior or unworthy.
Recognising the signs
Signs of low self-esteem are manifold. These may range from a persistent sense of inadequacy, difficulty in accepting compliments, neglecting self-care, to exhibiting overcritical behaviour towards self or others. Individuals may also indulge in perfectionism, fearing any form of criticism or judgement. It is crucial to identify these signs early to combat the issue head-on and prevent any long-term psychological damage.
Strategies for improvement
While low self-esteem can be deeply ingrained, it is not insurmountable. Here are some strategies to help reframe the narrative and improve self-esteem.
- Practise self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is through these errors that we learn and grow. Accept yourself, flaws and all. You are a work in progress, just like everyone else.
- Positive self-talk. What we repeatedly tell ourselves, we start to believe. Begin by replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Over time, this constructive self-dialogue can alter your belief system and subsequently your self-esteem.
- Set realistic goals. Setting achievable goals can gradually boost your confidence. Start with smaller tasks and slowly take on bigger challenges. Each accomplishment, no matter how small, will help build a positive perception of your abilities.
- Surround yourself with positivity. Spend time with people who uplift and encourage you. Positive reinforcement from others can substantially influence your self-view.
- Seek professional help. If low self-esteem continues to be a persistent problem, there is no shame in seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapists can provide guidance, useful techniques, and a safe environment to explore and understand your feelings better.
Embracing the journey
Boosting self-esteem is not an overnight task, but rather a journey of self-discovery and growth. It’s about realising that your worth is not attached to external validation, but intrinsically linked to your unique personality, skills, and experiences.
Take small steps, have patience, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself. You may stumble, but remember, each step, each stumble, is a part of the journey towards a healthier and happier self. You are not alone in this journey, and seeking help is a testament of strength, not weakness.
We need to acknowledge that our self-esteem is not static but fluid, changing with experiences and perspectives. It’s OK to feel low sometimes, but let it not define you. Remember, you are so much more than a moment of self-doubt, so much more than the unkind words of others, and definitely more than your harshest critic: yourself.
So, embark on this journey of self-love, and remember to hold your head high, for you are worthy, capable and deserving of the very best. Your self-esteem is in your hands—nurture it, cherish it, and let it bloom.
Madison Dakota, PsyD is a psychologist, poet, and a beacon of optimism, dedicated to illuminating the power of self-love through her work.
The articles we publish on Psychreg are here to educate and inform. They’re not meant to take the place of expert advice. So if you’re looking for professional help, don’t delay or ignore it because of what you’ve read here. Check our full disclaimer.