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Low Self-Esteem? Reasons and Signs of Low Self-Esteem and How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

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I love writing because it helps me share my knowledge and insights on different issues and also it allows me to help out other people.


What is Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can be defined as a lack of self-confidence which is made up of the thoughts people have about themselves which plays a big role in almost everything they do, mainly because most people that have low self-esteem see themselves as someone that is incompetent, inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy and unlovable. They see themselves below how God sees them and treasure them. These beliefs that they have about themselves create negative, self-critical thoughts that affect their behaviour and their life choices and leaves them trapped in a lonely vicious circle. Similarly, it can make it difficult for them to accept responsibility and constructive criticism from other people which can block really great opportunities and also prevents them from taking on new challenges; consequently, blocking them from having fulfilling experiences in life. In summary low self-esteem can lead to negative feelings, poor self-care, poor resilience and ruin important relationships if it is not addressed promptly.

Often times, people experience low self-esteem as a result of disapproval from the people they value, when they don't get expected validation from people they value or hold in high esteem. They also put their self-worth or validation in circumstances that are totally out of their control, which when it doesn’t go the way they want causes them to feel like a failure, and some experience mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder and depression. It is therefore pertinent to note that low self-esteem affects our emotions, our thoughts, and behaviour, as well as displays how we perceive and connect to ourselves and others. Hence, it is important to take quick actions when you realise that you or someone you love is suffering from this debilitating problem.

In this article, we would look into why people have low self-esteem, the symptoms/signs of a low self-esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

Reasons Why People Have Low Self-Esteem

Most times low self-esteem stems from childhood experiences where by people may get messages or negative comments from their family, teachers, siblings, or parents that they can’t live up to expectation and not good enough. For some people, the idea that they aren’t good enough will do sticks with them. They start to find or feel like they can’t live up to the expectations that others place on them or what they place on themselves, as such it affects their psychology and they start to believe those statements from them. Although, some people experience this later in life, which is as a result of an unpleasant experience they might have passed through.

However, in some cases, low self-esteem is usually a learned behaviour. This means that those inadequate feelings of self-worth you’re experiencing were probably taught to you by someone else or started because of you focusing on your negatives.
Some of the reasons why people have low self-esteem include the following:

  • History of struggles in school that bring down their confidence such as having a learning disability, failing an important test and being bullied/boycotted by their peers in school.
  • Feeling of neglect by loved ones.
  • Unhappy childhood experience due to harsh parental standards.
  • Unsupportive and critical parents.
  • A history of frequent punishment, maybe as a child.
  • Constantly being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair.
  • Chronic abuse such as an abusive relationship with a friend, partner or parents.
  • Lack of praise, warmth and affection when needed.
  • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards one another.
  • History of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.

Signs/Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem

It is vital to note that everybody at a point must have had an episode of low self-esteem once or twice. However it is when this feeling persists and the symptoms occur most of the time that low self-esteem can be a problem. Although some symptoms of low-self-esteem can be obvious, while others are hidden.

Here are the common symptoms of low-self esteem:

  • Constant feeling of worthlessness.
  • Inability to take criticism or praise.
  • Lying and cheating to win because you don’t think you can do it on your own.
  • Unable to trust your own opinion.
  • Always overthinking.
  • Scared to take up challenges because you are worried you wouldn’t overcome them.
  • Always hard on yourself but lenient with others.
  • Constant anxiety and emotional turmoil.
  • Withdrawal from social situations.
  • Excessive worry about what other people think of you.
  • Comparing yourself with other people and feeling inferior to them.
  • Overly controlling or bossy to cover up the fact that you don't feel good about yourself.
  • Constantly needing people's validation to feel good about yourself.

How to Improve or Overcome Your Low Self-Esteem

Apparently, low self-esteem often starts early on in life, therefore it can be a hard habit to break mainly because it is hard for someone to change their minds about how they feel about themselves overnight. It is essential that you note that it takes time for a person self-esteem to build up and improve mainly because a person has to completely re-learn the way they think about themselves and how they act around others. A lot of times they might need the help of a professional. Hence it is challenging but not impossible.

If you are wondering how to improve your self-esteem, here are some tips that can help you improve or build your self-esteem.

1. Identify the Root of Your Low Self-Esteem

This is the first step you need to take in order to build up or improve your low self-esteem, you need to identify the reason why you feel the way you do or act the way you do, it is like you are finding the causative factor of your low self-esteem; that is what caused your low self-esteem in the first place, was it as a result of frequent bullying in school, feeling of neglect by loved ones or perhaps it is as a result of your body weight. You need to look deep within you and come up with the actual reason behind your low self-esteem. Identify the physical symptoms such as thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated to it. Recognising the reasons and symptoms will help you know what thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to target for improvement.

2. Acknowledge Where You Need to Change

Once you have identified the causative factor of your low self-esteem, there is a need to acknowledge that you need to change especially in the aspect that needs improvement, since nobody is perfect, we all have faults, but the power to adjust them is in your hands, therefore, if you don’t identify and acknowledge where you need change, it can keep you stuck in a rut of poor self-esteem, which will only get worse the more you try to run from it.

Since, a lot of reasons cause low self-esteem, some are fully within your power to change while some of them are not in your control.
For example, being short is one of the things beyond your control or power but having a face filled with acne is part of one of the things you can change and help improve your self-esteem. Hence you can start taking care of your face or visiting a doctor and also start eating healthy, with time you would start to see positive changes in your face and how you look. For some people, this can be a great first step in improving their low self-esteem.

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In essence, you need to choose to become aware of it and acknowledge where you need change and then put forth the effort to improve it. You can even enlist a good friend or relative for support.

3. Make an Effort to Become Your Own Best friend

One of the tips for overcoming low self-esteem is to learn to concentrate on your strengths and not on your limitations. If you want to build up your self-esteem, you need to like yourself the way you are and know that you are valuable and deserve to feel good about yourself. Realise that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and you are his child. Therefore, spend time alone and take time to get to know yourself, look deep within yourself and discover what makes you tick basically this will allow you to discover where you are unique, special, and worthy, which will help you gain a better appreciation of yourself. At this point you get to also pinpoint the negatives sides or flaws that you have and address them. Remember that nobody is perfect. We all have our flaws, so learn to accept your own ‘flaws or imperfections’ and love them, because they are what make you unique. However, always strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You can try writing out a list of all the achievements and strengths that you have in order to remind yourself of how good and unique you are. Whenever you feel down or lack self-esteem you can always go back to this list to feel better about yourself.

4. Keep Company With the Right People

One of the most effective ways to improve your self-esteem is by surrounding yourself with the right kind of people that can help to build up your confidence, see the best in you and bring out the best in you and not people that continuously trample on your self-esteem or constantly making you feel bad or telling you that you don’t measure up or constantly criticising you for everything you do, it can prevent you from growing into a confident adult with a positive self-image. Try surrounding yourself with positive people, spend your time with people who appreciate and care about you, healthy people who can acknowledge and reinforce your positive attributes as well as your contributions and who genuinely support you. Hence, be mindful of who you allow into your life as well as the circumstances you allow to dictate your self-worth. Don't listen to anyone who puts you down. It's likely that they are suffering from low self-esteem. Hence, they are trying to feel better by criticising you.

If they constantly make you feel less of a person when you are with them, or trample upon your self-esteem at every chance they get, you might need to start thinking about trying to distance yourself from those people who make you feel bad about yourself every time. Say no to bad energy.

5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Most people that suffer from low self-esteem often compare themselves to other, telling themselves they are never enough or are better off pretending to be someone they are not. Several studies by psychotherapists has shown that comparisons only lead to a negative self-image, which can lead to poor self-esteem, stress, and anxiety that in turn can ruin your work, relationships, physical and mental health. Therefore you need to stop comparing yourself with other people around you by telling yourself that you were created for a purpose, your presence on earth is not by mistake.

Learn to appreciate yourself and see the good in you. You have so much more to offer the world if you would only look within you to see. Once you can learn to stop comparing yourself to others, you can be much happier with yourself and feel more confident.

6. Declaration of Positive Affirmations

Just as negative affirmations, such as ‘you’re useless… you can’t make it’ can be believed, they can also be unbelieved. Research by psychologists has shown that when someone repeats positive affirmations that they want to believe about themselves daily it help them get back on the right track to a time before they had low self-esteem. In fact, research shows that positive affirmations can even help lessen symptoms of depression and more.
Therefore, you need to start repeating positive affirmations about yourself to yourself. This helps to erase the negative ones you might have heard a thousand and one times. Challenge any bad thoughts that come into your head. Understand the things triggering these bad thoughts and make changes to deal with them by declaring positive affirmations like, 'I can do it… I will make it… I am made for greatness, I shall become great, I am destined for success, my life shall be a record of success, I am victorious, and I will live a victorious life. I am powerful, beautiful, brilliant and brave.' Something along those lines to make you feel good and confident in yourself. With time, you would start to believe and feel the way you say you are.

7. Give it Time

Building up one’s self-esteem or overcoming low self-esteem is a process that takes a lot of time, practice and patience. Of course, there would be moments where you feel like there is no change or you are simply wasting your time. There will also be moments when you would want to give up and want to associate with people with no purpose in life. However, don’t let these moments define you and stop you from your journey. Stand up and persevere your bumps, and in the end, you would achieve your goals and live a confident, happy and successful life.


Marissa (author) from Nigeria on August 01, 2020:

@Kin-kin thank you for your kind words.

Kin kin on August 01, 2020:

Wow... Here it is, clearly explained... Nice work dearie

Marissa (author) from Nigeria on July 29, 2020:

@Obaro, thank you for your kind words and for reading.

Obaro Emmanuel Victor from Nigeria on July 29, 2020:

One of the strong points of overcoming low self esteem is "keeping company with the right people"

Those that will encourage you and help you build your self confidence.

Nice article.... It'll go a long way to help those affected

Marissa (author) from Nigeria on July 29, 2020:

@Olusegun, thank you for your kind words.

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on July 29, 2020:

Good work.

Marissa (author) from Nigeria on July 25, 2020:

@Tayo I'm absolutely in Love with your comment. Thank you for leaving one so impactful and enlightening.

Tayo on July 25, 2020:

I love this article, God bless you.

Maybe we should pause and ask ourselves these questions

- Do you really like yourself?

- What kind of person do you think you are?

- Do you think you are of great value and have the capacity to make meaningful contribution to people's life and the society in general?

- Do you believe in yourself?

- Do you have confidence in yourself?

If we understand how God has made each one of us special,it will boost our self-esteem.

Each one of us is an amazing house of treasure,a complex machine and a walking miracle, we all have incredible abilities that are astounding.

You're simply amazing and there is absolutely no excuse why anybody should succumb to having a low self-esteem. Every human being is unique, special, uncommon and adequately loaded to make great impact in life. May God help us all.

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