5 Causes of Low Self-Esteem and How to Fight Them
When you hear about self-esteem you would usually think about the unpleasant feeling of low self-worth and embarrassment in the moment.
However, low self-esteem could be considered one of the leading factors behind the risks you can afford taking, your attitude towards high-stake situations, the direction of your decision making, and, ultimately, how far you get in life.
According to SimplyPsychology, ‘…people with high self-esteem focus on growth and improvement, whereas people with low self-esteem focus on not making mistakes in life.’ And the two attitudes have very different outcomes.
This article will give you a very practical approach towards eliminating some of the major sources of low self-esteem. The goal is give yourself the best chance to succeed in the challenges along your way and to learn to accept yourself for your faults.
THE 5 PHASES OF FIGHTING LOW SELF-ESTEEM
Just because you feel generally ‘down’ and you want to feel better, that does not mean you are ready to do something about it. You have to find the cause. And the cause could be sneaky.
Let’s say you are growing bald. It happens suddenly, and it is very visible at first sight what is affecting you. You know when it started and you know what is causing it.
However, low self-esteem might be stemming from a bad relationship or friendship, where the other person is putting you down, but is also manipulating you into you thinking they mean your best. Those reasons are trickier to uncover.
Write down a list of the times that you were feeling down and the thoughts that were running through your head. Find the original bad thought that put you in that state. Caution: The reasons might be multiple.
Once you have discovered the cause of your low self-esteem, put them in one of three categories:
- Constants. The constants in your life are things you can’t change. For example if your low self-esteem is stemming from you being not-so-tall, you are probably not going to be able to change that. The strategy you need to employ here is acceptance, or looking at things from a different angle. Instead of trying to change the constant, change yourself, to where the constant is not bothering you so much.
- Fluctuations. Those are situations where there is a combination of factors you can change and factors you can’t. If you sweat excessively for example, in most cases you will be able to improve your symptoms to where they are not a distraction in your everyday life, but you will always have to take excessive care of your personal hygiene, take pills, and/or spend a lot on medical-grade products.
- Variables. If your low self-esteem is stemming from the fact you are not a very good conversationalist, or you are at a low point in your career, there are things you can do to completely eliminate that source of low self-esteem.
This is the part of the process our article is concentrating on. You need to adopt the attitude that you owe it to yourself to research and never give up to always give yourself the best chance in life.
Identify your issues, work on the ones you can change, and accept the flaws you can’t to where they do not interfere with the rest of your life.
Let’s go back to the example with the frenemy – the friend that is actually your enemy.
If they are causing your low self-esteem, naturally a part of your healing process will be to cut ties with such people. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases people attract similar types of friends around them – it is the principle of the key and the lock.
It is common in this situation that a person will suddenly be left with a lot less friends than they started out with. And that could, in turn, be its own source of self-esteem issues.
Now you will need a new strategy. Change the types of people you become friends with. Your old ways are no good.
Once you figure out the issue is solved, the worst thing you can do is to just fall back to how you were.
It is important that you continue your efforts to improve your life.
In the example of the frenemy, you have to be careful that you don’t attract the same false friends in your efforts to not be alone. If your excessive weight was causing the issue, and you lost some of it, you need to continue with your efforts.
Remember. Maintenance and prevention is always easier than breaking the bad habit.
Your body is the home of your spirit. But it could also be the birthplace of many insecurities that poison your daily life.
Because it is the first thing that people see about your, the most obvious difference between you – it is easy to see the differences in the physical world, and not so easy to see the difference between the minds.
Please note that we are not saying that any of those issues should be a concern of yours, but here are some of the most common issues you could have with your body:
You carry extra weight
Some extra inches around your belly could really damage your self-worth. Luckily, it is one of the issues that can be fixed just by the power of an iron will. Caution – it is simple, but it is not easy.
The first thing to do is to cut back on sugars. Your appetite will immediately go down and you will crave much less food. With a limited amount of carbohydrates, your body will be feeding off of the fat. Low sugar lowers insulin levels which leads the kidneys to lose the excess water and sodium.
Concentrate on getting your protein, your fat sources and carbohydrates only in low-carb versions – particularly from vegetables. High protein diets will make you feel more full. Add more protein and you will feel it is way easier to stay off sugar.
Now, some gym talk. Visit around 3 times per week. Make sure you do some stretches before you start. Warm up your muscles for the workout. Try to include some weight lifting, instead of doing cardio only. It will do wonders for your shape, in addition to your weight and you will see results in the mirror faster.
Don’t overdo it. Concentrate on what works for you. Explore different options. Even if someone tells you their routine is doing wonders for them, if it doesn’t fit your needs or is not up to your liking, ditch it.
In the beginning, concentrate on persistence rather than a particular type of exercise. Once you get results, track them. Try to push yourself towards achieving your end goal.
BO could take a real hit on your self image. Heavy sweating could be a sign of a medical condition. Hyperhidrosis, as it is also called, can be a symptom of a thyroid disease, diabetes or bacterial infection. Excessive weight is a contributing factor.
If the temperature is not high and you are not exercising, you should not be sweating profusely. This is when you know you have an issue.
What can you do?
- Deodorants/Antiperspirants. If the generic products do not work for you, look for medical grade products.
- Iontophoresis. Low-level electrical impulses will temporarily incapacitate your sweat glands.
- Medications. Ask your doctor for prescription and additional advice if you have to.
- Botox. Botox can briefly stop the nervous system from triggering excessive sweating.
- Surgery. A doctor can cut a nerve in the chest that causes the sweating or they could as far as removing some of the sweat glands.
You are not the right height
Shorter people often suffer from lower self-esteem. The teen years are usually the hardest part in such cases. Shorter people have a more difficult time establishing themselves as the authority, and in their relationships.
However, you should not underestimate other factors – if your friends and family never make fun you for your height, you are more likely to develop high self esteem. The environment has an important role in determining how one perceives themselves.
Surround yourself with people who treat you nice for who you are and do not accept jokes you are not okay with.
You dislike your features
Feeling ugly can be devastating to you, as this Cosmopolitan article tells us.
Disliking our features could be detrimental to our confidence, especially during our teen years.
This YouTube video outlines how young girls, in particular, feel confused about the way they look and seek validation from the internet. Seeing so many changes day after day, being told by their mothers and fathers they are beautiful, and by bullies at school – that they are ugly.
In this day and age the question of cosmetic surgery will always come up in your mind. However, before you take any drastic measures, make sure you have considered all pros and cons.
You are losing your hair
Hair loss is a common problem amongst men. Men do tie having a full head of hair to sex appeal. Even though only 13% have reported to have been very upset when their man lost their hair. In contrast, a full 52% think women would largely find bald men to be unattractive.
Apparently what actually matters is confidence. If your confidence is diminished as a result of going bald, you will only make the problem worse.
It is particularly devastating when it happens to women.
You will find a lot of procedures can be done to try and remedy the root of the issue or hide the symptoms. The truth is nothing is proven to work.
The best thing you can do is you can try to untie your confidence from your hair. Talk to people. Read about how others dealt with the issue.
You are getting old
Women feel ‘invisible’ by the age of 51: Confidence plummets after hitting 50, the Daily Mail reports.
‘Only 15 per cent of those over 45 declared themselves as having high or very high confidence while nearly half described themselves as not very confident at all… Six in ten felt modern life was geared towards younger women while 46 per cent believed that the problems faced by older women – such as the menopause, weren’t spoken about.’
Here are some things you can do to fight this feeling:
- Self-esteem could actually increase as you age – you are smarter and more experienced now. You can be more assertive.
- Sixty is the new forty! Some of our low confidence as we get old could be tied to us comparing ourselves to our parents at that age, but times have changed!
- Focus more on what is truly important. At a young age you have so much choice in front of you. But it also leads to a lot of confusion. Now you know who you are and what you want. Do it!
Roughly, we spend one third of our lives working. Your relationships at the office, your status, your opinion of your job can have a huge impact on the way you feel about yourself.
You do not have a career
You are college-educated, and yet, you could never find a well paid job in your field. It is the curse of a generation. It is a huge problem. Yet, society tells people working in the service industry derogatory jokes, people who work low-level, low-paid jobs are being ostracized and told they are to be blamed for their state of affairs.
First, remember that you don’t have to always comply to society’s expectations, especially if you are happy with your job. Second, and only if you are not so happy, we advise you to do some research and look for the advice of career specialists. It is never too late to make a change.
Passed over for promotion
Redirect your negative emotions into positive efforts. Consider if it is maybe too early to despair. Do you have a future in the company? Decide where you should objectively draw the line.
Be proactive and seek direct feedback from your supervisor. Take it as a serious learning opportunity – learn what you are doing wrong. The answer may surprise you.
Plan carefully for your next step. What and when do you want to achieve from your job? Who is the decision maker? What is their vision of the situation? What are their condition? Is it something you can afford waiting for?
You are underpaid
Men are more likely than women to associate their self worth with the money they earn. And women are more likely to be underpaid because of their reluctance to negotiate for a higher salary.
Deal with this issue in three steps.
First, do your research. How much are you worth in your company? What about other companies? Second – who is deciding on your salary? Are they happy with your work? Third, plan carefully how and when to raise the question. Give yourself the best chance.
You are underappreciated
Work on getting yourself out of your comfort zone. Speak to your colleagues and customer more often. Write down a list of achievements no one gave you credit for. Make sure you raise the question during your next evaluation.
The thickness of your wallet may be tied to your self-worth.
You are not your money
In some cases such world view could be justified. If you are a an associate at a law-firm for example, your earnings will be very closely tied to your worth as a lawyer.
If you are an IT specialist though, you should not be comparing yourself to the celebrities on TV. It is a question of attitude, and your attitude will usually be closely tied to your ability to spend on products and services that are worth it, and on your ability to save money. For those points, direct your attention below.
If you have unrealistic expectations you will never feel good in your skin. Make a mental exercise to always work on your best chances but not to have top expectations.
Make a plan
Consult a financial specialist. Disclose the amount of steady income you are getting and your goals for the close or mid-term future. Maybe you want to get married? Have children? Retire?
Ask your consultant about a percentage of your income they advise you to spend on necessities, luxury items, fun and… how much they advise you to save.
Remember. You don’t solve money problems with money.
No plan is a good plan if it is not flexible. If your income changes for the worse or the better you need to adjust your financial plan accordingly.
You do not necessarily need to make financial investments. What we mean by that is to consider every purchase to be an investment. Always think of the ‘return’ value. That way you will never spend money on junk.
As we discussed earlier in the article, a bad relationship has various ways of being toxic to your self worth. People are weird creatures. To no fault if your own you could be sucked in an unhealthy relationship – friendly or romantic – with an equally unhealthy person who can only feel good about themselves if they put other people down.
Here are some helpful tips how to avoid that.
Make friends with the right people
Step number one is to be cautious about people who you let in your life. Be wary of people who:
- want to become too close too fast
- joke about your insecurities and laugh it off then garnish the insult with a compliment too little too late
- have too many insincere friendships
- have too little friends even though they seem social
Lose friends when they are toxic
Step number two is to not be shy to let people go during the first signs of them being unhealthy for you.
It is better to have no friends than to hold onto a toxic relationship.
Hold on to your good friendships:
- Be grateful when someone does something for you
- Be conscious of people in your life that make you feel the best about yourself – ask them how you can help make their life better
- Be the friend you want to have. Do not neglect your relationships.
If your self image could be affected a lot by the way you look, that is because your appearance leaves the first impression to people you meet.
And the most lasting impression is affected by your smarts. Therefore if you don’t feel you come off as intelligent, it could be equally as damaging to your self esteem.
Here are some tips how to come across as smarter, fast:
Learn new things
Your first task is to get hold of the news. Make sure you read about the most pressing local and international events every morning.
This simple habit will immediately open access for you in office conversations. Several months in, you will be able to become the centre of attention. You will have informed opinions and even a witty joke or two.
Master small talk
The key to small talk is to talk about things that don’t matter, as if they do. Talk about the weather, sports or… the news… and be engaging. Ask little questions here and there.
‘Hey, who are you rooting for at the game tonight?’, ‘Hey, how long do you think it will take them to finish the reconstruction on the 8th?’.
You can master small talk, get on the topics of the day, and use little tips and tricks like that.
But let’s be completely honest – you will probably not go back to college, you will probably not increase your IQ.
There will always be someone around who is smart and dashing and witty. You are good enough. Just give it your best and relax.
Your self-image could be affected in various stages of your life by various factors. And you may or may not be able to do anything about it.
Sometimes it will be up to you, sometimes it will be completely out of your hands.
Whenever you head for raising your self-esteem, you need to work in two directions in parallel. First, do your best to change the things you can change.
And second, accept yourself, love yourself. Know that you are enough the way you are.
Your goal should be to become the best version of yourself. Someone you can be proud of.
Make sure you put your best foot forward and be happy.