Low self esteem plagues a lot of us and we don’t even know it. It also affects us in so many ways and impacts on our lives and relationships.
What is Self Esteem?
Self-esteem is largely about a set of beliefs we have about ourselves and how much we value ourselves. Self Esteem is on a scale from high Self esteem to Low self Esteem with self esteem that is OK in the middle. When you have middle to low self-esteem, you feel you have little to offer to the world and you will have many negative beliefs and thoughts.
Effects of low self esteem
Central to having low self esteem is having negative beliefs about yourself and the world. These beliefs can be so entrenched that you don’t even think about or question them. You may say things to yourself like: “It’s best to expect the worst so I won’t be disappointed” or “I won’t succeed, it doesn’t happen to someone like me”.
So what is it like to have Low self esteem
- You may fail to notice your strengths, the fact that you are a good person and do well in a number of different things
- You focus more on your weaknesses, mistakes you made and any failures.
- You may think you are not a good person so this may create barriers when you are with people whether you know them or not.
- You may find it is difficult setting boundaries with other people, saying no when you need to or saying yes.
- You find it hard to self care and take care of your needs
- You may often second guess yourself or feel guilty.
You can very often feel used and burnt out.
- As a consequence of this also, you may feel quite anxious or depressed as depression and low self-esteem come hand in hand.
What causes low self esteem?
Low self-esteem can happen as a result of difficult things you could have experienced as a child.
- Having an insecure upbringing where you don’t feel protected, loved or safe.
- Your parents could have been very critical of you. By negative, we mean where it was excessive and overly demanding
- They might not of encouraged you to do well and rise to your full potential
- You may have been forced to be someone you are not for example not accepting of your sexuality, your choice of career
- You may have experienced emotional physical, psychological or sexual abuse
- You could have been through a negative life experience such as a loss of a parent, adoption
- Being in a relationship where you are controlled, manipulated or lied to (Gas lighting) which can lead to you second guessing yourself or doubting your capabilities. This could be parent to child, romantic, work related or platonic.
Unhealthy relationships which can be both romantic or platonic but involve being controlled, manipulated, belittled and/or lied to.
- Any form of discrimination or bullying
Social media can trigger low self esteem when you start comparing yourself to people in the media
Feeling lonely and isolated where you don’t have much emotional support
- Other disorders such as borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and anxiety disorders, low self esteem is a symptom.
This is why two people going through the same experience will affect them differently. One of them could thrive, learn from it and move on. The other person will diminish both physically and emotionally. This is because the bad experiences confirm those already negative core beliefs you have developed as a child, so this experience could make you feel worse.
The main signs of low self-esteem include the following:
- always have negative thoughts and feelings about yourself, the world and about life in general
- are attracted to negative and sad things especially on the t.v.
- find it hard to trust anyone even yourself
- are often defensive
- You hate yourself
- can be a bit of a perfectionist
- constantly feeling anxious or fearful
- have a tendency to be a perfectionist
- are afraid of risks
- are more prone to noticing what could wrong
- are very sensitive towards criticism
- brag a lot
- have a history of chaotic relationships
- display passive aggressive behaviours
. . and a lot more
There is no quick fix for low self-esteem. Your beliefs about yourself were developed over a long time and have been deeply ingrained in you ever since. Changing this will be an ongoing process dependent on your commitment and the work you decide to put in. The good news is, that your self esteem can be improved.
I am a Therapist based in Sutton Coldfield, UK also available online.
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