You may need to deal with the self-esteem issues that bring you down, but where to start and what to do? Start the healing process by following these five suggestions for strengthening your self-esteem.
What does “self-esteem” actually mean? How do you know if you genuinely suffer from low-self esteem? “Self-esteem” has been defined as “a person’s appraisal of his or her value”, in other words it is the way you see yourself and the value you place on yourself as a person. In the following chart are some examples of negative self-evaluations that have been provided by people suffering from low self-esteem.
|?||I am not worthwhile|
|?||I feel negative about myself|
|?||I feel different from others|
|?||I fail at most things|
|?||I avoid interacting with others|
|?||I am not able to achieve my goals|
|?||I have many faults|
|?||I feel guilty and ashamed easily|
|?||When something goes wrong it is usually my fault|
|?||I don?t trust my own perception or opinions|
|?||I have difficulties with making decisions|
|?||I don?t look after myself very well|
|?||Other people are better than I am|
|?||I don?t feel confident at doing even familiar tasks|
If many of these statements resonated with you, and you think that you often evaluate yourself negatively, you can reconsider the way you value yourself and take steps to improve your self-esteem.
It is important to know that self-esteem is relatively stable but that it can still change during the course of our lives. Previously it was reported that from adolescence to middle adulthood our self-esteem increases, and then as we move into old age it decreases rapidly (Orth & Robins, 2014). However, there is no guarantee that after moving beyond our teenage years we will automatically acquire strong self-esteem. Even those who possess strong self-esteem will not be immune to every life stressor. The ability to remain strong in adverse conditions can be affected by particular circumstances – such as experiencing divorce, a job loss, bullying, an abusive relationship or poverty.
Self-esteem has been shown to be important and predictive of an individual’s wellbeing and success in the areas of relationships, work and wealth (Orth & Robins, 2014).
If you think that your self-esteem is a bit low at the moment, and would like to do something about it, consider the five following suggestions:
Forgive yourself for past mistakes and learn from them.
One obvious reaction people have is to keep reminding themselves of their past failures and mistakes. It is common to feel that self-recrimination is the best way of not making such mistakes again. However, this pattern often results in people feeling low, becoming more insecure and not taking any chances at all to overcome past failures. The best approach is to review mistakes, evaluate them, make conclusions and try again. Remember, each day of your life you are more experienced, so you can choose a new way to deal with any difficulties you face.
Avoid people who bring you down.
It might be easy to avoid those people who are obviously critical and aggressive. However, others to avoid might be disguised as “frenemies” or “Good Samaritans” who care about you and who remind you about your faults because they care. Next time people tell you not to take steps to achieve your dreams, to stay away from friends because they will let you down anyway, or not to date because dating only leads to tears and heartaches, thank these people but stay away from them. Of course sometimes we get hurt and stumble and experience difficulties on the way to acquiring resilience and achieving our dreams, it is just a part of the process.
Do small acts of kindness – especially for yourself.
When we feel very low we often find it hard to look after ourselves. During these times we neglect how we look, don?t care about what we wear or don?t think about what we eat, which often leads to us isolating ourselves. It is very important to start taking steps to look after yourself. You can start by treating your body kindly and by going for a walk once a day if you have not done so in a while. This way you will have some exercise and get yourself out of the house. At the same time, when you meet someone on your way treat them kindly too, be generous with your friendly smile and compliments.
Write down all the things about you that are good.
It often seems that other people are much better at almost everything. They have better jobs, faster cars and bigger houses. They appear to be smarter, more successful and far more talented. It is very easy to feel down about yourself when comparing yourself to other people. That is a good reason to log out of Facebook and to turn off you computer, then take a piece of paper and a pen and write down a list of everything good about you. It can be your talents – maybe even hidden talents that no one knows about. It can be something that you have accomplished in the past, something you feel proud of; whatever makes you feel good about yourself, write it down.
Seek counselling – give your psychologist a call.
Recent research suggests that low self-esteem places individuals at risk of the development of depression (Orth & Robins, 2014; Sowislo et al., 2014). If you find that you have struggled with low self-esteem and persistent low moods for a while, and you don’t seem to find the strength to deal with it on your own, don’t suffer – call your psychologist. Together with your psychologist you might look at other factors and triggers contributing to you feeling low and find ways to address these difficulties effectively.
You might like to discover some other activities that could help you start your journey to address difficulties with your self-esteem. So what steps will you take today? If you found something to be particularly helpful, share your thoughts and strategies with us, we would like to hear from you.
Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2014). The development of self-esteem. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 381-387. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963721414547414
Sowislo, J. F., Orth, U., & Meier, L. L. (2014). What constitutes vulnerable self-esteem? Comparing the prospective effects of low, unstable, and contingent self-esteem on depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123(4), 737-753. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0037770
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