Low self-esteem is an issue that most of us have grappled with at some point in our lives.
But where does it come from? Why do some of us have lower self-esteem than others? And why is it so difficult to turn around?
You aren’t the only one asking these questions. Whether you consistently struggle with low self-esteem or only lack confidence every once in awhile, it’s important to understand the root and the causes, as well as to gain some insight on reversing it.
Common Causes of Low Self-Esteem
Understanding the foundation of your problems will provide you with clarity, which is critical if you want to grow. Listed below are five (of many) common causes of low self-esteem.
1. Not getting your needs met as a child
Children with overly critical or even overly involved parents usually feel a lot of pressure to perform perfectly. When impossibly high standards are set and cannot be met, it becomes a breeding ground for low self-esteem. Children with neglectful parents are also more inclined to experience low self-esteem, as they might never feel recognized for their accomplishments.
2. Prior poor decisions
Those who let previous bad choices dictate their future choices are more inclined to struggle with self-esteem issues. This cycle of negative self-thought and behavioral patterns can be incredibly difficult to break.
At a young age, children are particularly impressionable. Like sponges, they soak up everything they learn and hear. Children who are bullied (whether once, twice, or consistently) may start to believe that another person’s negative statements about them are true. This can affect their self-talk, and as the years pass, it will change the way they view themselves.
As human beings, we are inclined to compare ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to friends, peers, celebrities, and even strangers we see on social media. In reality, we rarely have insight into what these other lives actually look like. By creating harmful false assumptions, we then hold ourselves to unattainable standards.
5. Mental Illness
Fear, anxiety, and depression are very closely tied to low self-esteem. When we engage in behaviors or say something that we think others will deem unfit, it can cause debilitating anxiety, depression or feelings of unworthiness. Low self-esteem is actually the underlying factor in many mental health disorders.
How to Turn Low Self-Esteem Around
While there is no way to change the things in our past that caused our low self-esteem, there are plenty of measures we can take to turn it around. These are just a handful of ways that can assist you in regaining confidence:
If you’ve read this far, you have already taken the appropriate first step in turning low self-esteem around! Recognizing your struggles and finding ways to cope with them is critical.
Take daily action
Changing the way you view yourself requires a lot of work. After all, you are essentially seeking to rewire your brain and unlearn years of negative self-talk. A great way to begin retraining your brain is by challenging your negative thoughts. Now that you know where these thoughts come from, try considering why they may not be true.
Learn to appreciate yourself
Maybe the concept of loving yourself seems far-fetched. While you’ll get there eventually, it won’t happen overnight. Instead of immediately attempting to love every single thing about yourself, try to simply appreciate certain parts of yourself.
For example, if you struggle with negative body image and usually say to the mirror “I hate the way my legs look”, you won’t just wake up one morning saying, “I love everything about my legs.” Try gradually changing your thoughts. Look in the mirror and state why you appreciate your legs. For example: “I’m grateful for my legs because they allow me to walk my dog.”
Remember that everybody struggles
The knowledge that you’re not alone is a powerful tool in building strong self-esteem. It’s also important to remember that if someone says something bad about you, it may just be a projection of how they feel about themselves.
Seek professional help
Low self-esteem is often the result of years of negative self-beliefs and self-doubt. While there are many steps you can take on your own, one of the best ways to overcome self-esteem issues is with the help of a therapist.
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