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Why do I apologize all the time?
I don't deserve any better.
Why do I compare myself to others?
Why can't I make decisions?
Why can't I say no?
Why do I aim so low?
Why can't I accept a compliment?
Are these kinds of questions and thoughts holding you back? Low self-esteem and lack of self-acceptance are both common and problematic. If have been told we are useless or worthless repeatedly, or made to feel that way, it becomes a part of our mindset.
Our self-esteem is the foundation for our successes in life. When we believe we can achieve we go much further. When we believe we are deserving, we do much better with our relationships, our work, and our recreational time. How would your life be different if you had the confidence to pursue your goals? In relationships? At your job?
Getting past these negative thought patterns takes some time and effort, but it can be done and the rewards for doing so are immeasurable. I want to help you. I encourage you to contact me so we can begin this journey. It begins with a single step. Take the step.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is the degree to which we feel confident, consider ourselves valuable, and respect ourselves. Our view of ourselves greatly affects our well-being. It is important to remember that self-esteem is a birthright. Everyone is born with it. Everyone has a right to feel worthwhile and to have a sense of leading a meaningful purposeful and enjoyable life.
If somewhere along the road we have arrived at very negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, it is likely that we have encountered a variety of negative experiences that might have contributed to this.
How we were treated earlier in life affects the way we see ourselves and who we are.
So, if these experiences happened long ago, why is it that we still see ourselves in a negative light today? After all, haven’t we had adult experiences that are quite different from the ones we had as children? Yet, we might still hear, in our minds, what our parents or other people had said to us years and years ago. We might hear ourselves saying things like “This is not good enough,” “You could have done better,” “You are so stupid.”
Why we continue to experience low self-esteem today, even when our current circumstances are different from those of our past, is a result of our negative core beliefs. Negative core beliefs are the conclusions about ourselves we arrived at when we were children or adolescents, likely as a result of the negative experiences we have had. For example, a child who was constantly punished and criticized may come to believe “I am worthless,” or “I am bad.” These thoughts are what we call negative core beliefs.
To a child or young person, these beliefs seem to make sense during those experiences because they are probably unable to explore other explanations for what is happening to them. These negative core beliefs are thoughts that are usually deep seated, firmly held, and strongly ingrained in our minds. They are evaluations of ourselves and our worth or value as a person. These beliefs say, “This is the kind of person I am.” Here are some other examples of negative core beliefs: “I am stupid.” “I’m not important.” “I’m unlovable.” “I’m not good enough.” “I’m fat and ugly.” “I’m unacceptable.” “I’m good for nothing.” “I am evil.”
It is not surprising, then, that a person who has had these sorts of experiences in their earlier life can come to believe very negative things about themselves. As an adult: Do you believe in yourself and in your abilities? Do you respect yourself? Do you take pride in yourself? Do you settle for way less than you want in a relationship? Do you allow yourself to be treated poorly? Do you work at jobs that are way beneath your talent ability? Do allow yourself to be way underpaid? Are you able to handle rejection and criticism in an objective and healthy manner? Does a negative comment from someone completely shatter your self-view? Do you take good care of yourself? Do you sacrifice your wants and desires for others all or most of the time?
Signs and Symptoms
1. Feel incapable – You lack the confidence and belief that you can achieve the things you really want and you always talk yourself out of trying, you almost write yourself off before you’ve even given it a shot because you don’t believe you can do it.
2. Guilt. This often takes the form of self-torture. Seeing your actions as unforgivable, your imperfections as permanent and believing improvement is impossible.
3. Fear and uncertainty. The hallmark of non-confident people is naked fear. They fear everything for a host of reasons. They fear making mistakes, upsetting others or becoming ill. They fear not having material things and not living up to the expectations of someone else. They fear people gossiping and their secrets being known. They fear not being liked, being abnormal and having permanent or terminal illnesses. They fear being hurt, any kind of responsibility for their destiny and, of course, they fear change itself. They fear even being themselves, because of the risk of disapproval from the significant others they value or wish to impress. Fears are fed and maintained by negative experiences, a lack of self-love, lack of self-belief and an absence of trust. People driven by fear are plagued by self-doubt, submissiveness, over-conformity, isolation, and sensitivity to criticism, acute distrust, and feelings of inferiority, being unloved or rejected. Based on an unrealistic assumption of perfection in others, this fear mainly shuts off the individual from essential social contact, leaving them feeling isolated and alone. This isolation is noticeable when we put ourselves above others and label them in negative ways to boost our individual egos.
4. Self-Shame. Keeping secrets about yourself which then makes you feel ‘awful’, ‘disgusting’, ‘weird’, ‘stupid’, ‘ugly’ or unworthy, especially as you would believe yourself to be the only one with such experiences.
5. Feeling unlovable – Feeling like you are not worthy of love. Causes of low self-esteem such as physical, emotional or perceived flaws, or even past relationship heartbreak and failures can often leave people feeling unlovable. As a result, you can end up feeling like, no one will ever like me or no one will ever love me or want me.
6. Negative self talk – Another symptom of low self esteem is negative self talk, always talking down at yourself, always telling yourself you can’t do it, always criticizing yourself and putting yourself down. When you do that, it shows that you don’t think much of yourself; it shows that you don’t see yourself as a worthy and valuable person. The thing is, the more you engage in negative self talk the worse you will feel because you keep reaffirming the negativity and now you’ve conditioned your mind to be negative.
7. Don’t feel as good as other people – Comparing yourself with others and feeling like you are not as good as other people is another one of the low self esteem signs. It is very dangerous to judge yourself based on what other people are doing. It is easy to fall into that trap especially when your friends and peers seem to be achieving more than you. Maybe they are married and you are still single, maybe they’ve bought a house and you’re still renting, maybe they’re doing well financially and you’re not doing too well in that area. If you begin to judge your life by theirs, you will start to feel like life is against you and begin to question and doubt yourself.
8. Seek to be validated and approved by others – If you need people to always validate you and approve you before you feel good about yourself, then you are displaying one of the low self esteem signs. What this indicates is that you are dependent on the opinions of people to have self worth and your acceptance of yourself is tied to people liking and accepting you. This is dangerous because you have put your ability to be happy and fulfilled at the mercy of other people, it means that if they never validate you then you never feel good about yourself, it also means that if they criticize you, you self-worth will be shattered because you are at the mercy of their opinion. Many times, people will hop from relationship to relationship in attempts to feel validated or stay in abusive relationships because you believe their opinion is right.
9. Lack of trust. When you are isolated, it is easy to believe you have a monopoly of a given emotion or situation. When you never engage others honestly, it is hard for them to open their hearts to you. Yet, without openness, you do not get any feedback because others cannot relate to you. You also never discover that others struggle with the same problems as you do, nor do you learn their solutions, which might be helpful to you.
10. Unable to handle failure – You can’t handle failure and setbacks very well, and you always associate the failure with you as a person rather than just seeing the event as what failed. As a result you begin to doubt your ability, lose confidence, and become afraid of trying things because you now see yourself as someone who never succeeds at anything.
11. Blame others instead of taking responsibility – pushing the blame on others rather than accepting responsibility when things go wrong is one of the low self-esteem signs. It takes a big person to put their hand up and admit when they are wrong, it takes a person with a positive self esteem to know that even when they are wrong, it doesn’t make them any less of a person or take away from their competence. People with low self-esteem on the other hand believe that admitting you got it wrong means that you lack ability and competence so they push the blame of others, pushing the blame is actually a sign of weakness. Accepting responsibility shows that you are willing to acknowledge what’s gone wrong, learn from it, change and improve, that’s why those who take responsibility succeed.
12. Lack of motivation and drive to do things – You lose the motivation and drive to go for the things you want in life because you stop believing in your ability to achieve them. Maybe you’ve had a few failures and setbacks and things haven’t worked out the way you planned or things are taking longer than you expected and you are now discouraged and feel like giving up and quitting because you’ve lost your zeal, enthusiasm, motivation and passion.
13. Feeling of hopelessness and even depressed – Feeling hopeless and even depressed, and that could be due to many reasons, for example maybe you lost your job and have no income and the bills and debts are mounting up and you can’t see a way out, that can create a feeling of hopelessness and depression.
14. Can’t handle criticism – You find it difficult to take criticism. People with low self-esteem see criticism as an attack on their person. Rather than seeing criticism as free consultation on ways they can improve and do better, they often take criticism in a very negative way and interpret it as being a failure and not good enough.