Low self-esteem can develop out of our past experiences, such as not receiving enough praise or excessive punishments as a child, being told we are not good enough, our perceptions of repeated failures or not being able to identify our successes. Furthermore, low self-esteem and depression tend to go together. Studies have found that some people who experience depression also experience low self-esteem and vice versa. Low self-esteem is reported to influence procrastination, quitting or not completing tasks, and either risky or overly cautious behavior. Likewise, with low self-esteem people report feeling very fearful about trying new things or pressured to try new things out of fear of how others will respond. They also fear failure and disappointing others.
However, negative beliefs about yourself is the present culprit of your current feelings of low self-esteem. Therefore, Low self-esteem has a lot to do with your opinion of yourself. Mostly, people with low self-esteem fear failing. They also believe the negative experiences they have had are associated with their personal value. They believe they are not good enough or they are deficient in some way. But, if you suffer from low self-esteem, you can relearn and cultivate positive self-beliefs, and develop ways to keep negative, self-sabotaging thoughts at a distance.
Here are key points that you can implement to build your self-esteem:
Remember you are not alone. It is very important to remember that everyone, without exception, have moments of uncertainties about their abilities. We also all experience failures, fear and doubt. So, you are not alone. The key is learning how to recover from these doubts and fears.
Reframe how you think about failure. For example, failure in life will occur—we all experience failures. Situations and outcomes may not result the way you believed or hoped. But, that does not make you a failure. Also, see your failures as learning experiencing. This is usually where many of us grow and learn to do things different or better. Failure is not bad and there is nothing to be a shamed of because it has nothing to do with your personal value or worth, and more to do with life being life.
Reframe self-sabotaging thoughts and practice positive self-talk. When you think that you are not good enough, change that thought to you are good enough. When you think you are worthless, tell yourself you are worthy and valuable.
Ignore what you “think” other people think about you. In fact, I tell my clients, we really can’t say what other people think because its is there own private thoughts. And, even if someone tells you they think you can’t do something, it is your choice to believe them or not. Remember, just because someone tells you can’t succeed, does not make it true. Its only true if you believe them. So, don’t believe them.
Make a list of all your positive qualities, and things that you appreciate about yourself. Keep this list handy or post it where you can see it. Any time you feel your esteem faltering, read that list. Appreciate and focus on your unique gifts and qualities.
Be grateful for who you are. Appreciate all of you and who you are because you are much more than the sum of your parts.
Challenge your fears. Challenge your thoughts on why you are fearful. Are you afraid because you think others will be disappointed or unhappy? Are you afraid of what other people will think? Are you afraid of what will happen if things do not work out? If so, then use the reframing techniques I mentioned earlier. Remember that its ok if things do not work out the way you planned and that it does not matter what other people think. It matters what you think and your intentions and purpose. It matters what you learn and how you grow from the experience.
Don’t compare yourself or your results with other people’s successes and outcomes. You are unique. Your life and experiences are specific to you, your needs, your actions, and your resources. When you compare yourself to others, you set yourself for feeling bad later. You will not have the same exact results as other people. You will not make the same choices, nor will you have the same exact resources as others. So, there is no need to compare yourself.
Be active. Find hobbies, volunteer, or participate in activities that make you feel good about yourself. This will give you tangible successes and boost your self-esteem.
Hang around and associate with positive people. Make sure your circle has encouraging people who remind you of how awesome you are, who encourage you to be your best, and who accept all of you no matter what. Reduce the number of negative people in your life.
Read positive affirmations every day. Include items, such as books, movies, pictures, words, signs, tee shirts, mugs, that are positive and encouraging. Surround yourself with things that are uplifting and make you feel positive.
Meditate, exercise, and take care of yourself. Self-care is instrumental in helping you feel good mentally and physical. Also, you learn how to love and be kind to yourself. Self-care teaches you to value you.
When you have tasks to accomplish, create and manage SMART, Kick-A$$ Goals™ to achieve them. Formally managing goals will help you build self-esteem because you will physically see that you are achieving milestones and getting results, which adds to your successes. Plus, you can learn how to reduce procrastination, increase motivation, and feel proud of yourself as you monitor and track your goal accomplishments.
Be mindful. We tend to ruminate on old, negative experiences. We focus on the painful past outcomes, then worry about what will happen in the future. But, the past is over. Likewise, the future has not occurred. Neither physically exist. Therefore, we cannot accurately predict the future, especially if the results involve what people think. And, we cannot change the past as its over and done. So, focus on what is happening in the moment. What is real right now. That past and future are not realized yet, so be present.
If you are really struggling in this area, seek professional help. Many people have reported that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, coaching, and medication to manage depression has had positive, beneficial results.
Finally, the tools listed should be a daily practice. It also takes time as you are relearning new ways to think and be positive. You may not be used to this new behavior. But, don’t give up. Keep at it.