Everyone suffers from low moments at a point in life as situations determine; however, when it becomes a norm for some people who live like this everyday of their lives, it is a pointer to suffering from low self esteem.
Self-esteem is associated with one’s perception of himself or herself. Also called self-regard, self-worth, self-respect, it is how we view ourselves. Note that self esteem is a subjective evaluation; this means that it’s almost always based on your opinion, rather than fact. People that suffer from low self esteem are self- defeated; their battle is with how they perceive themselves from within.
Causes of Low Self Esteem
Childhood experiences are the leading cause of low self esteem. This is the time in your life when you develop your self-identity and start to form an understanding of how you fit into the larger world.
A child’s upbringing can be a determining factor in how a child develops an healthy or unhealthy self esteem. Being bullied or abused as a child is a great cause of low self esteem. Other factors that cause low self esteem are:
- experiencing prejudice, discrimination or stigma, including racism
- losing your job or difficulty finding employment
- problems at work or while studying
- ongoing stress
- physical health problems
- mental health problems
- relationship problems, separation or divorce
- worries about your appearance and body image
- problems with money or housing.
Impact of Low Self-Esteem
While low self esteem in itself is not a mental health problem, if not tackled, it can lead to various mental problems especially depression and anxiety. Some of the experiences of low self-esteem can be signs of a mental health problem, particularly if they last for a long time, affecting your day to day life. Research suggests that low self-esteem is linked to a number of mental health problems including:
- Eating disorders
- Emotional distress
- Panic disorder
- Risky behaviors
- Social anxiety disorder
- Substance use
Signs of Low Self Esteem
The symptoms of Low self esteem are categorized into two – internal and external.
Internal symptoms of low self-esteem:
People with low self esteem often exhibit different signs, however, there is always a common feeling of inferiority complex. They always have constant feelings of not being good enough, seeing others better than they are.
Other internal feelings include:
- worrying and self doubt.
- feeling hopeless, worthless, unloved, or unwanted
- obsessively fearing failure or believing you’re not good at anything (when there isn’t any evidence to show that’s true)
- having imposter syndrome or feeling like you don’t belong
- feeling like your successes or accomplishments are accidents or that you don’t deserve them
- frequent negative self-talk
- feeling like you’re a burden
- always doubting yourself or second-guessing yourself
- blaming yourself unfairly
- hating yourself
External symptoms of low self-esteem:
- people pleasing, saying “yes” to everything and everyone
- trouble learning new skills or concepts, especially things that are deemed difficult by society, like math
- difficulty making new friends or increased dependency on existing friends
- Blaming others for one’s failure.
- a lack of personal boundary setting: always wanting to be around people
- conflict avoidance even if you aren’t at fault
- going after what you want, not asking for what you need
- disempowering body language, such as slumped shoulders, protective postures, limited eye contact, avoiding eye contact, etc.
- social withdrawal and anxiety.
- You display a low body stance, often slouching, sending the message that you are not proud of yourself.
- Instead of taking criticism objectively, you react emotionally.
You can overcome it
Low self-esteem can take a toll on your emotional well-being, so it is important to take steps to address your sense of self and get the support that you need. Remember that your self esteem isn’t about the facts about you but how you translate it to form your own realities and opinions about yourself. It’s important to remember that you have the right to feel good about who you are.
If need be, seek professional help, remember that your upbringing is in your past, so forgive yourself while you face your future. Most importantly, believe in yourself, Notice the little things that you are good at and allow yourself to feel proud of them. Other areas to boost your self esteem include:
- Practice self acceptance
- Spend a little time each day focusing on positive, hopeful thoughts.
- Stay physically active—exercise can help improve mood.
- Think about something you are good at.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes.
- Celebrate your accomplishments, both the big and the small achievements.
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