People are often confused about what it means to have self-esteem. Some think it has to do with the way you look or how popular you are with your friends or others. Others believe that having a great body will help you gain self-esteem, while others think you actually need to have accomplished something in order to have good self-esteem.
Our self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. If you have low self-esteem you may feel:
- Like you hateor dislike yourself
- Worthlessor not good enough
- Unable to make decisions or assert yourself
- Like no one likes you
- You blameyourself for things that aren’t your fault
- Guiltfor spending time or money on yourself
- Unable to recognize your strengths
- Undeservingof happiness
- Low in confidence
Take a self-esteem inventory
You can’t fix what you don’t know. This is one of the core components of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Before you get to work on putting CBT to work, you have to spend a fair amount of time identifying irrational thoughts and what-not.
The same is true for your self-esteem. To simply generalize and say, “I suck. I’m a bad person. I can’t do anything.” is to tell yourself a simple but often convincing lie. I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. We all suck from time to time. The solution isn’t to wallow in suck-age as the core of your identity, but to acknowledge it and move on.
Set realistic expectations
Sometimes our expectations are so much smaller, but still unrealistic. For instance, “I wish my mom (or dad) would stop criticizing me.” Guess what? They never will! But that’s no reason to let their criticism affect your own view of yourself, or your own self-worth. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. Your self-esteem will thank you.
Set aside perfection
Perfection is simply unattainable for any of us. Let it go. You’re never going to be perfect. You’re never going to have the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect children, or the perfect home. We revel in the idea of perfection, because we see so much of it in the media. But that is simply an artificial creation of society. It doesn’t exist.
Write down 3 things that you can appreciate about yourself. A nice extra benefit of writing it down is that after a few weeks you can read through all the answers to get a good self-esteem boost and change in perspective on days when you may need it the most.
“Know thyself” is an old saying passed down through the ages, to encourage us to engage in self-exploration. Usually the most well-adjusted and happiest people I meet are people who have gone through this exercise. It isn’t just about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also opening yourself up to new opportunities, new thoughts, trying out something new, new viewpoints, and new friendships.
Sometimes when we’re down on ourselves and our self-esteem has taken a big hit, we feel like we have nothing to offer the world or others. It may be that we simply haven’t found everything that we do have to offer – things we haven’t even considered or thought of yet. Learning what these are is simply a matter of trial and error. It’s how people become the people they’ve always wanted to become, by taking risks and trying things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
Most people’s worst enemy are themselves. By raising and keeping your self-esteem up you’ll feel more deserving of good things in life. And so you’ll go after them more often and with more motivation. And when you get them then you’ll be a lot less likely to self-sabotage in subtle or not so subtle ways.
You might automatically put yourself down. But learning to identify and challenge your negative self-beliefs can have a positive impact on your self-esteem. It can helpful to ask yourself: “would I talk to, or think about a loved one in such a negative way?”
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.