Self-esteem is an opinion we have of ourselves; a way of placing value on ourselves as people. While we may voice characteristics such as “I am six feet tall” or “I have brown hair,” these are facts that don’t necessarily carry a negative or positive connotation. A low self-esteem suggests we carry a negative opinion […]
Self-esteem is an opinion we have of ourselves; a way of placing value on ourselves as people. While we may voice characteristics such as “I am six feet tall” or “I have brown hair,” these are facts that don’t necessarily carry a negative or positive connotation.
A low self-esteem suggests we carry a negative opinion of ourselves. For example, “I’m unattractive” or “I’m not good enough.” Most of us have mixed opinions of ourselves, but if your overall opinion is that you are an inferior or inadequate in some way, if you feel you have little worth and are not entitled to experiencing good things in life, then your self-esteem is low. Having a low self-esteem can put a damper on the great joys in life and have a negative impact on your relationships.
People with healthy self-esteems feel good about and value themselves. They also take pride in their abilities and accomplishments and enjoy sharing their talents with others. Perhaps most importantly, those with healthy self-esteems acknowledge their imperfections, but do not define themselves by them or put too much emphasis on their faults and limitations.
How to Create a Healthy Self-Esteem
The good news is a low self-esteem is not a life sentence. Since your low self-esteem developed over time (no one is born with low self-esteem) you can work to change how you see yourself. Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Forget Perfection – Focus on Accomplishments
Perfection only happens in Hollywood (and even there it gets a lot of help from Beverly Hills plastic surgeons and airbrushing). The truth is, you will never have the perfect body, the perfect house, the perfect kids, or the perfect relationships. Perfection simply doesn’t exist in human nature.
A healthier approach is to focus your attention and efforts on your accomplishments. When you achieve them, try not to de-value them by saying something like, “Oh, anyone could have done that.” Even if that is true sometimes, it doesn’t change the fact that you did it. The point is, you set a goal for yourself and you reached it. Celebrate your achievements and keep track of them in a journal, so you can always refer to it and remind yourself of what you have already done.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Of course, when you’re setting goals, make sure they’re realistic. Having unrealistic expectations of yourself or how the world works in general is a surefire way to kill your self-esteem.
For example, setting a goal like, “My body will be the same at age 45 as it was at 18,” may not be realistic. Exercise and healthy eating are great ideas, but you can’t totally outsmart gravity and time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations. Make sure that your goals are possible and that you give yourself credit for the steps towards them too!
3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Nothing hurts self-esteem quicker than unfair comparisons. You can always find someone who makes money than you, has more Facebook followers, or a “better” body. But did you consider all aspects of their life? Did you look to see how many people have it worse than you on that aspect? The typical comparison is one-sided and one-dimensional, it only serves to confirm your self doubts. You are an individual and no one has your mind and experiences. No one can be you, as you can’t be anyone else. It’s a tough habit to break, but it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others who you think have it better. Learn to celebrate your unique identity and value your strengths and accomplishments.
If you still struggling with a low self-esteem, speaking with a therapist can help you see where you are stuck and get you moving in the right direction. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today to schedule a free consultation session.