Self esteem is not developed by an external stimulus. It is an internal process. Self Esteem therefore is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that implies that you accept, respect, trust and believe in yourself.
Behaviors and emotions.
|Behaviors and attitudes.||
|Emotions and Feelings.||
|Causes of Low Self Esteem||
Understanding ten symptoms of low self esteem
Self esteem refers to a person’s sense of intrinsic worth or personal value. It also encompasses how one appraises himself in terms of his personal capacity and ability to cope with life’s challenges. People with good self esteem appreciate their personal worth, have confidence in their abilities, and generally feel good about themselves.
But what happens when self esteem hits a low?. How do you recognize low self-esteem in others, or even in yourself?. Below are the descriptions and explanations of the 5 low self esteem symptoms that include self-hate, perfectionism, feeling worthless, fear and anxiety, and anger.
People with low self-esteem often feel angry and frustrated about the person that they are. Often, this anger towards the self is rooted in previous experiences of being neglected, abandoned, hurt, or abused. These offenses normally trigger hatred towards the offender, but repeated or severe trauma may eventually leave the victim feeling like he or she somehow deserved the mistreatment. As a result, the loathing and anger that arose out of these negative experiences become misdirected inwardly, and the person ends up hating himself or herself instead.
Self-hate involves not only feeling deserving of being hurt and going through bad things, but also feeling unworthy of experiencing success or accomplishing good things. This negative self-judgment can eventually spiral into self-sabotage, where the person does actions that will prevent him or her from achieving success even when success is possible. People with low self esteem do this in order to fit their mentality that they are failures and are good for nothing; in which case, their negative self-image becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that continues the cycle of further lowering their sense of inner worth.
Self-hate is outwardly manifested through such signs as emotional detachment, unexplained outbursts of rage, alcohol or drug abuse, and self-harming actions like cutting. People who struggle with self-hate also often experience internal monologues that affirm they are worthless, deserve to be abused or treated poorly, are too weak and pathetic, and don’t deserve to be comforted.
Unable to express our feelings:
Being unable to express our feelings is being unable to feel them; or, more precisely, we are suppressing them and trying to “go numb” to them. This is my favorite one too. I used to be unable to know what I was feeling.
For example, I felt anger and I did not know how to express it. Whenever somebody asked me: Are you angry? I smiled and I said: No, I am not angry. The truth is that I was confused about my feelings, and I felt afraid to express them. I did not understand that anger could be a healthy feeling. I always thought it was bad so I repressed it. This is a low self esteem sign.
How did I overcome this?. I decided to be brave and start to express my feelings . I learn how to be more assertive . For example, my husband is always late, and I am punctual. So, every time we go out, I am ready. He is always doing things at the last minute and this makes me really angry. I used to smile and said nothing . I didn’t want to ruin the day. Instead of doing this one day I told him : I am really uncomfortable when we have to go out and you are never ready and we are late.
Just being able to express myself in this way had helped me a lot in not repressing my anger anymore.
Perfectionism as a sign of low self esteem is a product of defense mechanisms executed in an attempt to bolster self esteem. Feeling inadequate inside, they devote tremendous amounts of effort and energy into filling up or compensating with this perceived sense of inadequacy. As a result, they will usually exert an abnormally large amount of time and effort into making sure that they are always the best dressed in the party, that they don’t have a hair out of place, that they get perfect grades in school, or that they get named Best Employee every month at work.
They usually have very high ideals for themselves, often to the point of having unrealistic goals. To the perfectionists, getting it 99% right is still considered a failure. They have a black-and-white, all-or-nothing frame of mind, so anything less than perfection-even at a small margin-is not good enough. They get very upset and tremendously disappointed with themselves when they make a mistake in front of others, and even the most trivial mistakes make them feel like they have committed a mortal sin. They will spend large amounts of time replaying these upsetting scenes in their mind, incessantly evaluating what they could have done better.
People with low self esteem feel a nagging sense of worthlessness. They feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and believe that they have nothing valuable or worthy to offer anyone or the world as a whole. Often, they feel devoid of a sense of life purpose, and even go as far as believing that their life is not as important or valuable as that of others. They feel helpless and may give up hope that they are capable of doing anything that can improve their life and turn things around for the better.
As a result, they begin showing signs of poor performance, as their loss of hope and feelings of hopelessness diminish any sense of drive and ambition that they might have previously had. Ultimately, they stop trying to achieve anything, and may display lethargy, withdraw from relationships, and start neglecting normal self-care habits such as brushing hair, showering, washing clothes, or even eating.
Fear and Anxiety
Those with low self esteem also struggle with feelings of fear and anxiety that are often irrational and inappropriate. They fear doing something that may confirm their long-held suspicion that they are indeed failures, and also fear doing things that may bring the risk of others seeing their inadequacies. Consequently, they may fall into inaction and underachievement, as they refuse to challenge themselves to new projects and tasks for fear of not measuring up to expectations and risking humiliation. Because they may also view themselves as inadequate and incapable, they go through life in constant anxiety about their ability to make sound decisions and solve life problems effectively.
Blaming others: Stop complaining
This is usually known as complaining. I used to complain a lot in the past. Of course, my misfortune was always everybody else’s fault.
I found out that this kind of behavior is a symptom of low self esteem, because in blaming others I did not assume responsibility. But by not assuming responsibility, I became a victim of my circumstances.
How did I change this low self esteem sign?. When I became aware of this behavior, I took the decision not to blame others anymore. Whenever I find myself blaming people or circumstances, I stop and I say to myself: “It is time to take responsibility”, and I take action.
People with low self esteem tend to be self-focused and are prone to be constantly on the lookout for signs of rejection and disapproval from others. As a result, their oversensitivity can often lead them to conclude that others are always rejecting them or disapproving their actions because they are intrinsically inadequate and unworthy. Their feelings are thus easily hurt, and for a time, this hurt and anger may be repressed. But as their negative feelings continue to build up, eventually, small triggers can easily provoke them and they may demonstrate passive-aggressive behaviors. They are quick to anger and trivial matters can set off outbursts of fury.
If you recognize most or any of these 5 low self esteem symptoms in yourself or someone you care about, know that they may represent a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Seek support, professional assessment, and counseling if necessary. Low self esteem may be a psychological concern, but without proper intervention it can affect many other areas in life, and keep you or your loved one from living a happy and fulfilled life.
Depending on others for self-acceptance:
I used to depend on others to accept myself; I thought, “If you like me, I am ok. If you accept me, I will accept myself,” always waiting for a sign of approval so that I could feel good about myself. But when I didn’t get it I was driven nuts.
How I changed this? Well, I become aware that people have different points of view, that sometimes they project in us their frustrations and that if somebody really loves me s/he will take me the way I am. I felt relief, just being conscious that we cannot please everyone and giving myself permission to be myself. It helped me accept myself not worrying about others’ opinions.
This is like when you get your hair done, and then meet people and you are waiting for somebody to praise you. If you meet a friend, let’s say, and she says, what have you done with your hair! I liked it the way it was before! You start to feel uncomfortable, and doubt your own stylistic tastes. If you accept yourself and you are not waiting for other people’s acceptance, you will be comfortable no matter what others say.
This is my “favorite” one; I lived many years on denial. I used to minimize problems, forgetting events. I did not want to feel the pain. Despite the evidence, my tendency was to insist that anything bad or that I did wrong was not true. For example, when my father died, it was around 11:00 pm and I called one of my best friends. I told her that I needed to do some shopping and kept talking about trivial issues. She knew me very well, and I after I finished my talking she said: I am sorry your father is gone. .This is a low self esteem sign.
How I changed this?. I took the decision to start taking the risk to feel my feelings. I realized that it is better feeling the pain once than it is to keep feeling it all the time without even knowing what’s happening within myself.
This is like having a toothache and avoiding going to the dentist to avoid the pain. So we take medication hoping that the pain will go away, until we cannot bury it anymore and we make the appointment–by which time we have even more expensive work that needs to be done .
Lack personal boundaries:
I did not know how to draw a line between my problems and other’s problems. I let people to be invasive. This behavior is linked with no knowing how to say no. I used to be so mixed up, that when I meet somebody with a problem, I internalized as mine. For example. I remembered once I meet a new person. He started to ask too many personal questions. Even though I felt uncomfortable I answered them .This is a sign of low self esteem.
How did I change this?. Well this experience occurred to me again. Because I was determined to set boundaries with other people, I could handle this in a different way. I just told her that I was not comfortable answering personal questions. I did not answered them. The good thing is that this person understood my request and we had an excellent relationship. Setting boundaries is really important. We can still help other people, be nice to them but there is a place inside of us that we have to respect and do not have fear of rejection.
Low Self Esteem – What to do
- Low self esteem stops you to acknowledge your qualities. Review your qualities, celebrate them and also identify your skills. Every time you do something well, praise your achievement. Keep focus on the things you do well, see yourself in a positive state.
- Don’t compare with others, start building confidence instead. You are not better nor worst than anyone. You are perfect the way you are right now . You have value, your life has value because you are alive. Everyone is different and we are all valuable.
- Be with people that are positive and support you. Choose right minded friends that really care . Avoid people that put you down, criticize you and try to make you feel bad.
- Never put yourself down. With this tendency, you repeat negative comments regarding your skills and abilities. Watch your inner-talk.
- Accept compliments. When somebody gives you a compliment say: “Thank you”. Don’t allow guilt, justifications or give explanations. Learn to receive and be open to it.
- Acknowledge your success. Write 5 things you were successful. For example: I made dinner. I took out the garbage, etc. Every day there is a good thing that happen to you, even if it is and small event become aware of it. It will help building your self confidence.
- Do something you enjoy. A hobby, read a book, read a magazine, walk in the park , exercise and so on. Feel the joy while you are doing this activities. It will increase your sense of own value and enjoyment.
- Make a contribution to the world. Contribute to a cause, volunteer. Make your life worth it.
Avoid practicing this tips all at once. Remember that taking small steps is more effective than taking a big one. Just take a tip until it becomes a habit.
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