If you have a feeling that you don’t have the life you want because you’re not interesting, smart, nice, or otherwise special enough to deserve it — well, in a way you’re right that improvement is needed. But it’s not character flaws or physical negatives that you need to tackle, but rather a low self-esteem. Understanding the low self-esteem definition and the causes of low self-esteem is crucial. Doing so represents the first step of banishing this destructive cycle from your life.
Low Self Esteem Facts We Should Be Aware Of
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If You Can Name It, You Can Claim It
Ironically, many non-confident people don’t identify themselves as suffering from low self-esteem, because they think their main problem is a host of negative attributes. After all, one of the characteristics of low self-esteem is believing that your supposedly poor traits are “reality.”
Perhaps you’ve never been taught how to look at yourself objectively, let alone approvingly. “I weight X number of pounds,” for example, is a simple statement of fact. But “I’m fat and ugly,” or “My weight is a physical sign of my lack of self-control and laziness,” are examples of a subjective opinion. For people with low self-esteem, these self-evaluations are almost always negative.
Of course, we all have moments of plummeting confidence. But temporary low self-esteem is very different from permanent low self-esteem. When you suffer from long-term low self-esteem, not only do you never get emotional relief from these oppressively pessimistic feelings, but your life choices reflect this bleak outlook.
That’s why it’s time to take an honest look at how you view yourself. Once you begin to realize that the things you say about yourself are based on negative opinion, rather than objective fact, you’ll be on your way to altering that brutal pattern of self-sabotage.
How Low Self-Esteem Starts
Some people may simply be more genetically prone to self-doubt than others. But there are definitely other factors that also cause this emotional burden. Examining how your life and other personality traits might have influenced your current negative self-assessment is the key to short-circuiting this vicious cycle.
Among the frequently-cited origins or causes of low self-esteem are:
1. Unloving Parents
Few people have more impact on us than our parents, and if yours neglected you or belittled you, it’s small wonder that you’re struggling with self-worth now. Alternatively, you may have had an otherwise delightful mom or dad, who nonetheless moved out of the house. Even if you intellectually know a divorce or abandonment wasn’t your fault, emotionally it’s not unusual to internalize the hurt as failure.
2. Perfectionist Personality
While being a perfectionist can spur many people to achieve their goals, another sub-category of perfectionist sets standards so high that she is doomed to failure. That starts an unhealthy pattern of not even reaching for those dreams. This is the belief that you don’t have what it takes to get them — then experiencing even more self-hatred because of yet another failed goal.
3. Childhood Trauma
Not surprisingly, abuse of any sort that happened at a young age can brainwash a child into feeling like he or she brought it upon himself or herself. (It’s also common for the abusers to reinforce this sense of guilt as a means of control.) In other cases, the death of a loved one, a serious accident, or illness can set off a pattern of “Why me?” that turns into “Because I must have done something to deserve this.”
4. Societal Pressure
No, you’re not crazy if you think your negative body image is tangled up in the messages bombarding all of us, usually from the time we are young. In fact, TV shows, movies, magazine ads and other media are constantly showing us what the ideal attractive person looks like. That’s especially true for women. In fact, when do you see a woman’s “bravery” and “hard work” most celebrated? Probably when she’s lost a significant amount of weight or decided to wear a less aging wardrobe. There’s not much you can do to stop these absurd yardsticks of beauty and character. Yet you can stop making them part of your own reality.
Master Sheng Yen shows the effect of low self-esteem and how to eliminate it:
If you’re not sure how to go about raising your self-esteem levels, tapping into your spirituality may help. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or another form of personal development, truly getting to know yourself on a higher plane helps you understand how unproductive — and unfair — those patterns of low self-esteem have been in your life.
Did this article enlighten you and somehow find a way on how to overcome low self-esteem? Let us know in the comments section below.