You’re probably thinking that: ‘Hey, how can you liken low self-esteem to death, I bet it isn’t that deep.’ The simple answer is: a low self-esteem is a means to a terrible end. Self-esteem has been defined as the value we place on ourselves. It can also be said to be a low sense of self.
You lack self-confidence when you constantly feel low about yourself, you constantly feel like the odd one who isn’t worthy of any act of kindness and love. The world is filled with unkind people who tend to take advantage of a person with a low self esteem. There’s an aura that lack of self confidence creates and it is visible when you meet someone who is bereft of self confidence.
How do you know someone with low self-confidence
- Timidity. Timidity has been defined as living without courage. When you constantly lack courage or confidence, when you’re always the super quiet one who cannot air his views and opinions. I used to be so timid that it was difficult to walk into a room with so many people because I felt everyone was better off than I was. If you’re constantly timid and feel that every other person is better off that you, you are definitely suffering from a low self esteem
- Trouble accepting compliments. There are folks who find it difficult to accept compliments and that is traceable to the deep seated wrongful beliefs they’ve conceived about themselves over the years. So, when someone tells them they’re beautiful, they find it hard to believe because they are not used to seeing any positives about themselves.
- Negative talks about yourself. You probably find it difficult to express yourself in the midst of people but when you do, all you project are negative talks about yourself. Talks about not being good enough. You’re constantly sinking under the weight of your low self esteem and you show it publicly.
- Seeking acceptance. Often, people go out of their way to do things they shouldn’t do all for acceptance, they want others to have a positive perception of them and in view of this, they go all out not minding if it hurts them or is not in sync with their values.
- They cannot say ‘no’. No is a powerful word which when mastered will make you stay on top of your game, you cannot afford to say ‘yes’ to everyone and every circumstance because if you do, you’re on your way to mental and emotional exhaustion. People suffering from low self esteem tend to say ‘yes’ to every situation and everyone. When others see your self inadequacy, they tend to take advantage of it and it in turn becomes a cycle which if not broken can cause severe mental breakdown.
- You lack boundaries. If you have a healthy self esteem, there’s a point you get to where it totally doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you. While people with low self esteem focus on who likes them because they tend to shove themselves down the throat of others just for approval. People with low self esteem do not have defined boundaries and accept everything thrown at them.
- Fear of failure. People with healthy self esteem bounce back after a major failure because they understand that failure is a part of life. They don’t allow their failures to define them. Meanwhile, a person with low self esteem usually thinks that his failure is a way to highlight their inadequacy.
- Thinking you don’t deserve good things. Have you ever been in a relationship where it felt too good to be true to the extent that you kept getting in your head about how your partner is probably cheating because the love they gave you was rather too much. Do you constantly play out scenarios in your head and act it out all because someone seems to treat you better than you think you deserve or do you constantly feel or think that your boss is probably being good to you because he/she is looking to fire you. If you play out scenarios as these out in your head, then, you’re most likely suffering from a low self-esteem.
- You build a distance with friends and family. Before I overcame my low self-esteem, I used to think I was an introvert. Meeting and building new friendships and relationships felt like a herculean task and it felt as though I was not as good as every other person. Over time, I started coming out of my shell and meeting people who shared the same values as mine, then and there, I knew I was not an introvert and I had denied myself so much of the goodness that the world has to offer
- There’s a chain of abusive relationships. One of the widely used phrases about identity is, if the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable. When you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you tend to use it anyhow. And, you really cannot give what you don’t have. The world is full of unkind people who want to take advantage of weaklings and once you project yourself to be one, you become a prey and it is only a matter of time before you’re preyed on. So, you might be wondering what exactly causes this low self esteem, do people just wake up and then start feeling terribly about themselves?
Causes of low self-esteem
- Childhood trauma. Most of the time, low self esteem stems from negative or ill experiences from childhood. Being forced into a physical or emotional situation against your will might make it difficult to trust others and inadvertently believe in yourself as you age. Research has shown that some children who grew up seeing their parents divorce can build a cynical attitude towards everybody.
- Academic challenges. Children who constantly had academic challenges tend to develop low self esteem especially when the parents make it a big deal and compare the child to the other siblings.
- Bullying. In most African cultures, children are taught to respect their elders as respect is much of a big deal to them. Over the years, most of the paedophiles have hinged on the ‘respect factor’ to take advantage of young children and also threaten them into silence. A lot of African Kids grew up not being able to defend themselves in the midst of injustice and this literally pushed them into being bullied.
- Unrealistic beauty standards. The media have portrayed an unrealistic standard of beauty. For the media, in order to be beautiful, your hair texture must be smooth and straight, you must be slim and curvy and other several unrealistic standards. There have been cases of women going on the operating tables to alter their physical bodies to fit into the media’s standard of beauty but, some of them ended up losing their lives on the operating table. Regardless of your skin colour or shape, you can be on top of your game as your body type doesn’t determine what you make out of life.
10 ways low self esteem might be hurting you
- It affects your job performance. You’re not able to put in your best in your work and you constantly sabotage yourself and your work. One of the goals of a company/business venture is to make profit. If your lack of self confidence keeps getting in the way of your performance, your employer might be forced to fire you.
- It makes you resort to drugs and substance abuse. Most of the time, people resort to the use of drugs because they want to feel high and feel good about themselves, people with low self esteem oftentimes resort to the use of drugs which can in turn have a serious high end impact on their bodies.
- Friendships and relationship challenges. Your lack of confidence will make it difficult for you to maintain relationships and friendships. People love to hang around those who have positive attitudes but, when you constantly show the boring and pessimistic part of you, you are prone to losing friendships and relationships.
- Academic issues/challenges. When I was in school, there were times I would have loved to ask questions in class but due to my lack of self confidence, I lost out on the explanations I could have gotten from my tutors.
- Makes you distant from family
- It creates a sense of hopelessness, helplessness which in turn increases your risk of depression which if not curbed might be the underlying cause of suicide.
- Your quality of life will be poor. It was after I overcame my low self esteem that I discovered that there was more to life than what I was constantly doing to myself, I truly started living and discovered that I had lived life poorly.
- You become a pessimist. Nothing makes sense to you, you see everybody as a potential contender who cannot be trusted and who probably wants to hurt you. You talk negatively about yourself and also find it difficult to accept compliments. Does this sound like you? then, you’re probably suffering from low self-esteem.
- You lose out on opportunities. People generally love to be around the bold guys in the room, the guys who can stand up for themselves, and the intelligent ones who carry themselves with dignity.
- You are vulnerable to abuse. When you have a low self esteem, you become vulnerable to abuse.
How do you overcome low self-esteem?
The moment you realise that you are suffering from low self esteem, then, you are at the verge of finding healing for your inner self.
There are three stages to this:
- Denial. At this stage, you’re beginning to ask yourself and probably give yourself instances where you’ve made yourself proud and your low self esteem wasn’t so visible. You’re in a state of denial.
- Acceptance. At this stage, you have accepted that you’re suffering from low self esteem and that you need healing and help.
- Healing. At this stage, you are ready to find healing and walk out on low self esteem that seems to be depriving you of the goodness which the world has to offer.
How do you find this healing?
- Speak to a therapist.
- Join a support group.
- Deliberately make friends with people who share your passions and ideologies about life.
- Believe you’re more.
- Adopt the use of affirmative words.
- Start building boundaries.
- Let ‘no’ become your favourite word.
- Focus more on yourself.
- Engage in something fun (gym membership, hiking, sports).
- Focus more on your strength and abilities.
Then, you can start living and finding peace in the little things.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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