Self-esteem can at first seem like a small thing, but having low self-esteem can make life very hard.
In my own experience with struggling with low self-esteem, I struggled with insecurities about myself, my weight (since I used to be extremely skinny earlier), my capabilities and extremely low self-confidence.
This kept me from trying new things and letting myself be seen and heard.
I would always prefer not to be in the limelight and took up very little space on this planet.
I also used to feel extremely inferior in front of some people and felt that who I am and how I am is not enough.
But thankfully, having low self-esteem is not something that is given and unchangeable and I can now say for a fact that it can be overcome.
And today I’d like to touch on this topic of self-esteem and share with you how you can overcome low self-esteem.
But first of all, let us start with the basics.
What is low self-esteem?
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Low self-esteem is when you have low self-trust, low self-belief, low self-confidence and low self-respect.
You don’t trust yourself enough in what you can do.
You don’t believe you are worthy, loveable, deserving or capable
You doubt yourself and you don’t feel confident in what you can do and what you can handle.
You accept less than what you deserve because you set your bar too low thinking you are not worthy and deserving.
To put simply, low self-esteem is when you see yourself in a very low light and don’t believe that you are awesome, wonderful just as you are and that you are worthy of what you want.
Signs you have low self-esteem
Here are the signs that you have low self-esteem
- You are afraid to take up space
- You don’t allow yourself to make mistakes
- You blame yourself whenever things go wrong
- You fear criticism
- You are afraid to ask for more
- You are afraid to voice your opinions
- You think you have no talent or worth
- You are afraid of failing
- You say negative things about yourself
- You try to please everybody
- You have a hard time saying no
- You judge yourself too harshly
- You don’t believe in compliments
What causes low self-esteem?
As we grow up, there are many people who will tell us who we are, how we are and what we’re capable of.
It may be your parent, a friend, a boss, or a colleague who might have told you something about yourself in a negative light intentionally or unintentionally.
I always had a hard time with one of my family member. This family member would always criticize me, find faults in me and underestimate me.
Many of those things stay with us and if we accept their opinion of us and believe in what they think of us, we will end up having low self-esteem.
It’s important to ask ourselves with whose eyes are we really seeing ourselves because if we view ourselves from the eyes of those who have hurt us, we will end up viewing ourselves poorly and have low self-esteem.
Bad relationships also make us lose our self-esteem. We start to feel something might be wrong with us and start blaming ourselves for what went wrong.
Instead of raising our standards for what we deserve, we end up lowering our standards thinking that we don’t deserve to be loved and put effort in.
Failure and obstacles, if we don’t accept there is something to learn from them, puts a scar on our self-worth and our self-confidence.
Insecurities about our self such as a scar on our face, body weight, skin colour, gender, work or anything can also make us lose our self-esteem.
And poor self-talk is both a cause and a result of low self-esteem.
These I feel are the main causes of low self-esteem, and there can be many other reasons.
However, I feel the root cause of low self-esteem is only one- and it is when we don’t love and accept ourselves enough.
It’s because we don’t love ourselves for who we really are, or rather, who we ALREADY are, that we lack self-esteem.
Can you fix low self-esteem?
Many of us take low self-esteem for a fact as if it’s our inherent nature as if we can never let go of it.
But I’d say that low self-esteem is always learned, whereas our courage, confidence and high self-esteem in ourselves are in-built.
You can fix low self-esteem in the same way that you can fix your negative self-talk, your poor perception of yourself and your future.
All that requires is a little mindfulness, awareness and the spirit to not take your present conditions and limitations as something given and certain for all of your life.
Life is long and we can go from becoming a timid and underconfident person to becoming a person who can do anything they set their mind to.
We can go from the midst of suffering and poverty to becoming successful, happy and healthy.
We can go from being full of insecurities to accepting ourselves just as we are.
There are thousands of examples of people having done this.
Loving yourself is the revolution.
I myself am proud to say that I have grown to have self-esteem and confidence from having basically zero when I was growing up and I was able to change my life and still change.
Anything can change if we allow ourselves to change and if we do the things that bring about change.
But if we keep thinking, “What’s the point!?” then life will always remain stagnant for us.
Life is long and anything can be fixed as long as we are alive.
And self-esteem can be fixed too.
How to overcome low Self-esteem
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1. Question what you’re accepting
Question your current beliefs, perception and thoughts about yourself.
What are the things you have accepted about yourself without questioning? What views have you accepted seeing yourself from other people’s eyes?
Maybe you’re saying “I am too lazy, I am so stupid, I am good for nothing, I am too ugly, I am unlovable.
And because you’re saying all these things in full belief, that is what you’ve been accepting about yourself.
If you want to overcome low self-esteem then you have to be watchful towards your thoughts and the words that are coming out of your mouth.
2. Allow yourself to make mistakes
Self-esteem gets corroded when we are too harsh with ourselves when it comes to making mistakes.
If right now you just can’t seem to stop blaming yourself for making a mistake, I’d like to remind you to ease yourself and let go.
There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. We all make them.
It’s a part of learning and growing.
Self-forgiveness is essential to love yourself again.
The next time you start being critical of yourself for a mistake you made, stop it then and there.
Say to yourself, “I forgive myself and allow myself to re-start my life”
P.S. I have created a 21-Day Journaling Guide for Self-discovery, growth and healing.
If you haven’t taken any other challenge of mine, you can join this challenge.
You will receive journal prompts and guidance from me for the next 21 days to inspire you every day.
3. Don’t be critical of failure
As human beings, there is so much shame in failing- whether failing in a business, in a competition, in a marriage, in a relationship or failing in something you worked hard for.
One of the reasons why we feel so much shame is because we think about other people and what they will think of us.
It’s shameful to fail in front of people, to not have had success in front of people and this makes us slowly lose our self-esteem.
But if we only took failures as a part of life and not the end of our life, we would be doing so much better in self-esteem.
What matters is you are not failing at yourself, failing at life.
I have taken to heart this motto- ‘fall seven times, stand up eight’
A failure in a business, in a goal, or in a relationship does not define who you are and how your life will be henceforth.
It takes courage to fail and every failure is an opportunity to grow, learn from our mistakes and be brave enough to start anew.
As long as you are standing up again, regaining your enthusiasm, and wanting to keep growing in life, no failure is final.
Every failure is an opportunity to try again.
4. Be kind to yourself
It’s easy to be kind to others, but we often forget to be kind to ourselves.
If we acted as best friends to ourselves, how would we act?
Perhaps the root cause of low self-esteem is that we are too unkind to ourselves.
When things go wrong and we need love and support, instead of being kind to ourselves, we end up being even more critical and blaming ourselves for every fault.
The biggest remedy to low self-esteem is to be kind to yourself, to act as your friend, to show your love and support to yourself and tell yourself, “I am here for you”, “I understand you”, “You are wonderful”
5. Stop comparing yourself
Many of us lack self-esteem because we think we are not as good as someone else.
We think we’re inferior because we don’t have certain things and accomplishments like others.
But when we start comparing ourselves with others, we lose track of our journey and keep on noticing where we are in comparison to where others have already reached.
Comparison is a never-ending game.
And the reason why comparisons are so bad is because it makes us also feel superior in front of other people.
Inferiority can only happen with superiority.
Our egos love to compare, but our hearts know no comparisons.
If you want to overcome low self-esteem, allow yourself to be on YOUR journey without any comparisons.
Be aware of when your mind starts comparing.
You are not less than, or more than anybody else.
You are you and you are on your own journey.
When you move through life this way, life becomes much simpler, and easier and you are able to love yourself better.
6. Be who you are
As easy as it sounds, being who you truly are takes courage.
The journey is all about unbecoming who we are not and becoming more and more ourselves every day.
“How can I be just myself?” Is something worth pondering.
I have come to experience that in just being ourselves, we are most strong, most compassionate, most kind, most loving and most sincere.
My goal now is to only be my truest self, to be more me as the years go by.
It’s when we try to be something other than who we are that causes us stress, tension and exhaustion and insecurities.
Being who you are and trusting who you are helps end all the comparisons.
If we are truly who we are and love ourselves for it, there can be no self-esteem issues.
7. Allow yourself to take up space
This is something I am still learning and challenging myself to do.
I believe if we are here, we are here for a reason. Most of us end up taking very little space because we feel we are not worthy or we don’t have it in us.
But slowly I am learning to allow myself to take up space.
To take up space means to be where you are free, to allow yourself to be seen and heard and to just do your thing.
This doesn’t mean to be unnecessarily loud or try to bring attention to yourself, but just to be yourself and not be afraid of anything, and not to feel less than or more than who you are.
You will find that who you are truly already has everything.
8. Take responsibility for your actions
If you’re facing low self-esteem issues, also learn to take responsibility for your actions and outcome.
Taking responsibility does not mean blaming yourself for it, but rather accepting the things for what has happened and seeking ways to improve it.
Blaming does no good because it stops us from taking action.
Whereas taking responsibility means you are aware of what has happened and instead of blaming yourself and staying stuck, you go out and decide to take charge of the situation.
If you only show courage and start taking responsibility for the outcome, your self-esteem will slowly return and with it your self-confidence.
9. Stop people pleasing
People-pleasing happens when we are too afraid to piss other people off.
It’s good to be good to others, but not at the cost of becoming bad to ourselves.
If you’re always thinking about what other people will say if you say something if you’re always trying to mend your ways in order to accommodate other people, if you’re only talking to someone because not talking would come off as rude, then ask yourself if it’s coming from a place of love or if it’s just because you are trying to please them.
We most often don’t realise our people-pleasing tendencies.
But trying to please other people is exhausting and tiring, and if we do it for too long, it has a serious effect on our own self-esteem.
Ask yourself where is the need to please others coming from. What will happen if you don’t please others?
Just live your life according to what feels good for you. Remember you are living this life for you and it should look best for you and not for others.
So these were how you can overcome low self-esteem, and now about certain practices to help you overcome it.
Practices to overcome low self-esteem
Get in the habit of writing at least a few pages every day in the morning. Whatever comes to your mind at the time.
Journaling helps to uncover ourselves and it is a process for self-discovery.
It is what helps me overcome my limitations because I become more aware of them and I would truly encourage you to start journaling.
2. Positive self-talk
As I already said, be aware of what you’re talking about yourself and when you’re with others.
Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend.
Don’t say anything out of your mouth that is opposite of what you want for yourself.
It is not that hard. It just requires some awareness and pausing.
3. Positive affirmations
Listen to positive affirmations in the morning or you can write them down. Affirm what you want to have, do and be.
All our life we have been affirming the negative- “I am so lazy. I am too broke. I can’t, it’s impossible”
It’s time to see what happens if we start affirming what we truly want out of our life.
4. Appreciate yourself
Too much time has gone by being critical of yourself and nothing good has come out of it.
It has only made you feel worse about yourself and made you lose your self-esteem, so try appreciating yourself now and see what difference it can bring to your life.
5. Practice saying No
Stop saying yes from your lips when from your heart you want to say no.
Practice saying no and just be truthful to yourself and to others.
There is no harm in saying no and you are allowed to say no because you always have a choice.
6. Practice being assertive
Also, practice being assertive. If you decide on something, stick with it. Don’t keep on changing your choices and decisions.
Stick to your words. If you’ve given a word for something, follow it through no matter what.
And if it’s something that you said to yourself, it’s even more important to make sure you do it no matter what.
Set tiny goals and follow them through. This will slowly improve your self-esteem and build up confidence in yourself.
7. Set boundaries
Set boundaries and let go of people with who make you feel small about yourself.
Stop forcing connections that feel empty from the heart.
If you find yourself feeling drained from a certain connection, set boundaries around it.
If you find yourself complaining about someone a lot, it’s a reminder that you need to set boundaries around them.
8. Surround yourself with positive people
Find people who support you in the making of your happiness.
Be around people who make you feel joy and make you forget your worries. Surround yourself with people who want to invest in their growth too rather than people who are themselves people pleasers and who are living an inauthentic life.
9. Read autobiographies
Lastly, read autobiographies of great men and women.
I have found reading them very helpful. Reading the lives of such people imbibes in us a little bit of their own courage, confidence and discipline in us.
They make us feel everything is possible and anything is achievable.
Some autobiographies I would recommend are The Story of my life by Hellen Keller, Up from Slavery, I Am Malala, Diary of a Young Girl, and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, When breath becomes air.
Final thoughts on how to overcome low self-esteem
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Having low self-esteem can stop you from becoming a better friend/ partner/ parent or simply the best YOU you can be.
It can make you feel tired, and exhausted and can leave you feeling like whatever you do doesn’t matter and can make you continuously question, “Why even try”, “What’s the point!” and make you lose all the enthusiasm in life.
To the extreme having low self-esteem can make you feel that YOU don’t matter and that there is nothing you have to offer in this world.
Because nothing can be farther from the truth.
You matter. You are awesome and you have wonderful gifts to share in this world and that is why overcoming your low self-esteem is a must to let yourself shine.
I hope this post helped you in even a little way and encouraged you to be more yourself because that is what ultimately helps us overcome all of our limitations and setbacks.
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