We are all impacted with low self-esteem from time to time, whether it’s because we are trying something new and aren’t yet feeling confident with the task, or because we are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone in some way. However, if low self-esteem plagues almost every area of your life, almost constantly, then it can really have a negative impact on your mental health.
Your self-esteem is a combination of your sense of self-worth, self-respect, and personal value. Someone with typically low self-esteem will often second guess themselves, question how others perceive them, and worry about how they look, speak, behave, and so on.
So, here are some of the impacts that having low self-esteem can have, and how you can support yourself to increase your self-esteem in these areas.
A very typical impact of having low self-esteem is hating your own thoughts and actions, feeling self-conscious all the time and feeling like everything you do or think is wrong. Self-hatred is essentially anger and frustration which is turned in against the self.
Someone who experiences self-hatred will find it very difficult to forgive themselves for even the smallest mistakes, or even for perceived mistakes.
Here are some things that you can do to decrease the self-hatred and increase your self-esteem:
- Be aware of your internal dialogue. Start to monitor how you speak and think about yourself. Notice when you use negative language to describe yourself or to berate yourself. Once you become more aware of these incidences, start to look for the evidence. Is the negative thought true? What are some other options? What is the equal and opposite positive thought?
- Ask yourself this question; if someone spoke to your best friend/child the way that you speak to yourself, would you stand for it? If the answer is no, then why do you allow yourself to be spoken to that way (even if it is from you)?
- Don’t be afraid to re-write outdated scripts. A script is a story that we tell ourselves and the world. For example, “I’m the shy girl”, “I’m the guy that procrastinates” and so on. However, often these can be incorrect or, at the very least, out of date. We might have been shy or a procrastinator once upon a time, but that may no longer be true.
One of the most destructive aspects of having low self-esteem is the desire to be perfect.
Someone who is a perfectionist is almost always setting themselves up for failure, and lives with an almost constant sense of failure. This is because whatever the perfectionist achieves is never felt to be good enough, by the perfectionist.
Here are some things that you might want to try:
- Look at your expectations for yourself. Are they realistic? Is the time frame realistic? Can you break down your goals into more manageable pieces?
- Remind yourself that failing at something does not mean that you are a failure. We can often conflate the two, but they are indeed very different things.
- Be aware of when you are looking for problems. Try to stop yourself from getting fixated on minute details, and allow yourself to zoom out and see the bigger picture.
- Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins. It can be easy to get caught up in the next thing, but it is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the every day victories.
Negative Body Image
Body image tends to go hand-in-hand with self-esteem. If you have a negative body image, this can lower your self-esteem and, equally, if you have low self-esteem this can impact how you present yourself and how you take care of yourself, thus impacting how you feel about the way that you look.
Here are some things that you can try to increase both your body image and your self-esteem:
- Try to catch yourself comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself that everyone is different and that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
- As with the self-hatred, try to look for the evidence both for and against your negative body image thoughts.
- As body image and self-esteem can go hand-in-hand, it is important to break the cycle wherever possible. Often the easiest place to start is with the physical. So, make sure you are taking care of your body and your health as a priority. This might mean more regular exercise, more luxurious self-care, eating healthier foods, or a combination of these.
Low self-esteem can leave you with a deep-rooted sense that you are less valuable than those around you.
Here are some things to remember about low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness:
- Feeling worthy is not something that is bestowed upon us by others, it is something that comes from within.
- Like above, try to avoid comparing yourself to others and remember that we all have unique talents and strengths.
- Remember that you can admire other people and still feel worthy yourself.
- Know that we teach others how to treat us by the way that we treat ourselves. You talking down about yourself gives other people permission to join in.
If you are someone who has low self-esteem, you are likely also very sensitive to criticism. We always feel hit hardest by criticism when it touches on something that we are already self-conscious about. If you have low self-esteem, it is likely that there are a lot of things that you are self-conscious about.
It is important to:
- Listen to what is really being said. Like when we are talking about ourselves, it is important to evaluate whether the comment is true or not, and look for the evidence.
- It is also important to learn to stand up for yourself if the comment is not warranted.
- Equally, it is important to understand that when criticism is fair and warranted, that it is an opportunity to learn and move forward.
Finally, one of the most common effects of low self-esteem is people pleasing. Someone with low self-esteem will often do this so regularly, but then feel aggrieved or used when others don’t acknowledge what they’ve done or don’t return the favour.
In these instances it is important to:
- Learn to say no to doing things that you don’t want to do
- Be a little bit selfish sometimes and consider what you want.
- Set limits and boundaries with yourself and others, and to stick to them. With this, remember that those who get angry that you’re setting boundaries are probably the ones who benefitted from your people pleasing tendencies.
If you’d like professional therapeutic support then get in touch with us by calling 020 8673 4545 or by emailing [email protected]
We have appointments available at our centres in Clapham and Tooting, seven days a week.