Self-esteem.

One of the things we are not taught in school and in our homes is how to develop and have high self-esteem. This deficiency has created a feeling of insecurity, resentment, and timidity in most people.

Growing up I used to be quite shy, and always considerate of what people thought about me. I was always anxious not to be perceived as a weak, or a loser. This led me to sometimes overcompensate and most times I tuck away from challenges or taking a risk.

This problem didn’t only affect my personal life, it also spilled into my professional life as well. As a consultant and coach, I would undercharge or give away my services for free because I didn’t feel adequate enough or I didn’t want to be seen as expensive or inconsiderate.

Most people I work with today also feel the same way I used to feel. And whenever I interacted with such people, I felt their pain, and the anguish it brings to life. You know what you want but you can’t seem to move towards your desire. I have seen the effect of self-esteem in relationships, businesses, schools, and even in social gatherings. Without dealing with this demon, it can totally inhibit your life, and also make living very difficult.

We as people are constantly being bombarded on media about what it takes to be successful, what it takes to look good, what life should be like, and so on. All these suggestions and counter suggestions have a way of damaging and affecting our self-esteem and self-worth. People who haven’t realized the effect of consuming all these suggestions live life scared, timid, afraid to take a risk, and in a worst-case scenario, it leads to depression.

In this post, we shall explore what self-esteem is all about, the impact, and also ways we can develop positive self-esteem.

What is Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is a person’s belief in themselves. That is, how you see and perceive yourself, your abilities, appearance, and general self. How much value you place on yourself as a person is what determines your level of self-esteem or self-worth.

People who are insecure, shy, timid and lack confidence usually have low self-esteem that’s why they put in effort in avoiding confrontations, challenges, interactions, and so on.

What are the causes of Low Self-Esteem?

There are different factors that can fuel low self-esteem in people, and the following are a few of the factors:

·         Life Experiences

People who have experienced failure directly or indirectly earlier on in life tend to develop low self-esteem. It gets worst if they were insulted as a result of their failure. And these experiences have a way of spilling into adulthood. They develop anxiety, fear, and insecurity. These past experiences reinforce when these individuals undertake a task in their present moments, they remember these experiences and dread making mistakes so as not to repeat the bad experiences of the past.

·         Thoughts

We are usually our worst critics. The mind if not properly disciplined can be our worst enemy in life. A lot of people have imposter syndrome, anxiety, fear, and are often depressed all because the mind keeps messing up their moods, thoughts, and actions.

Thought like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I don’t belong in this place”, I’m a failure”, “I’m too fat”, “I’m too slim”, “I’m ugly”,  “I’m too short”, “I’m an introvert” and so on are ways in which the mind negatively impacts our self-esteem. When you constantly dwell on these negative thoughts and perceptions about yourself, it becomes easy to develop low self-esteem about yourself.

·         Social Circumstance

It is natural for people who come from poor financial backgrounds to feel inadequate and insecure because of how society has made them feel. The insecurities are usually reinforced when they associate with people, they perceive to be higher in social status.

·         Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy”. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

One of the major causes of low self-esteem in our society can be attributed to an unhealthy comparison. We judge ourselves based on other people’s standards and also based on our own unrealistic standards. Albert Einstein once wrote that “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

It is quite unfortunate that that’s what we do all the time, we compare, and judge ourselves unfavorably with people we watch on social media, and around us. This isn’t only bad, it is depressing.

Statistics show that 95 percent of people feel they don’t measure up to the activities on social media and feel less worthy of themselves.

·         Health Issue

Having health issues can be another way some people develop low self-esteem. For instance, people that are physically challenged tend to have low self-esteem and feel unworthy just because of their physical health condition.

·         Reactions of Others Towards us.

We humans naturally love to be appreciated and loved. Not having the desired appreciation or love can be detrimental to our self-esteem.

So many people are living with insecurities because they fear criticism or being judged. These reactions could come from our immediate family, the media, friends, or colleagues. When it is negative, it destroys a person’s confidence which then leads to low self-esteem.

What is the negative impact of Having Low Self-Esteem?

The impact of low self-esteem is enormous and they can totally inhibit a person’s way of living, personally I’ve experienced some of these feelings. Based on my experience as a coach, I’ll categorize the effect of low self-esteem into a relationship, business and career, and social life.

Impact of Low Self-Esteem on Relationships

Statistics show that most women are ashamed of their body structure, they wish something is different about their appearance. This issue in most cases affects how they carry themselves and how they interact with the opposite sex. “Seven in ten girls believe they aren’t good enough and do not measure up with their look, and relationship with their friends and family members”.

Women aren’t the only people that suffer from low self-esteem, men also do. Many men consciously avoid relationships because they feel not masculine enough as their mates. Some compare their genitals with what is obtainable on media. This comparison makes a lot of men feel insecure about themselves which then leads them to avoid relationships. They ask, what’s the point when I’d be judged because I don’t have a “big this or that”.

There are many other ways low self-esteem can affect relationships; this is only but few common ways.

Low Self-Esteem in Business/Career

As someone who suffered from low self-esteem earlier in my career as an entrepreneur, I can say that the impact of low self-esteem can be devastating. It inhibits your growth. You’ll have the gut feeling that you’re competent, and experienced enough but the demon of low self-esteem would becloud all your qualities and you’ll just shrink and hideaway. I’ve worked with so many corporate executives whom I thought had it all only for them to reveal the challenges they had to deal with, the feeling of not being worthy, insecurities, and imposter syndrome.

Low self-esteem can make you undercharge as an entrepreneur, and for career people, it can affect their relationships with work and colleagues.

Impact of Low Self-Esteem in Social Life

One of the negative impacts of low self-esteem is its ability to make an individual avoid any form of social life or gathering. This is more common with people who are unsatisfied with how they look. The feeling of insecurity leads the individual to be more comfortable in their own space. Social gathering or interaction can be daunting and exasperating.

Ways to Increase Self-Esteem

The first step in solving any problem in life is awareness. Most people don’t recognize the impact of having low self-esteem, they just live life miserably. The following are some of the few ways you can increase your self-esteem, live a more confident and happy life.

1.    Awareness/Acceptance

Become aware of how you feel about yourself, your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Awareness brings everything to light, it makes you see your erroneous thoughts for what it is. This way, you can come up with a more appropriate strategy to deal with it.

Once you recognize your feelings, the next step is to accept the fact that you have low self-esteem then seek help. Failure to accept your state will only lead you to confusion and denial. Denial will only lead to prolonged suffering and feeling of inadequacy.

2.    Change your Thought Pattern

Police your thoughts, and replace every negative thought pattern with positive affirmations. Once the negative thoughts creep into your mind, it is important for you to list out all the positive qualities you have, tell yourself that you’re worthy and reinforce it to your mind. Focus more on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

3.    Change your Environment and Associations

Most people don’t realize how powerful their environment impacts their life and how they feel about themselves. The environment you live in and the people you associate with can influence you either negatively or positively. Stay away from negative people and the environment, these things could be what is affecting your self-esteem.

Look for positive-minded people to associate with.

4.    Stop the Unhealthy Comparison

The best way to live a healthy and productive life is to stop comparing yourself with others especially the negative comparisons. Understand that we all are unique in our individual ways. We have different talents, experiences, knowledge, and so on. These qualities are what compliments us in society. Understand that you’re as worthy as anyone else in this life.

Stop the comparison, and just live your life. You are worthy.

5.    List out the Qualities you Have and Reaffirm them

The feeling of inadequacy is one of the reasons people develop low self-worth.

One way to deal with it is to list out your accomplishments and qualities. Read them to yourself, visualize yourself as being that. Internalize it and be grateful for who you are.

6.    Change your Posture and Dressing

Your posture says a lot about you, if I learned anything in public speaking, it is that the way you stand determines how you make your presentation. People who slouch send a message to their audience or people they interact with as being weak, incompetent, or lack confidence. State management is important if you desire to change and build up your self-esteem.

Dress properly because it also has a role to play in how much we appreciate ourselves. It’s not about dressing expensively, it’s about dressing in such a way that you feel appreciated within yourself.

7.    Reframe Failures or Mistakes as Lessons

If you have failed or made mistakes in the past, simply forgive yourself and reframe them as a necessary learning process. Stop beating yourself up over your mistakes and failures. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and will definitely fail at something in life. No one is perfect and no one will ever be perfect. We all have our insecurities and its okay. Treat yourself nice, forgive yourself, accept what has happened and plan a way forward.

8.    Seek Out a Coach or a Mentor

One of my many blessings in life is to see people overcome their fear, fear of insecurity as a result of low self-esteem.

When you notice you have low self-esteem, it’s advisable to seek out professional help, it could be in the form of mentorship or coaching, whatever the case, it would do you good to approach someone who has had a similar experience and understands how it can impact life.

Sum up

The way you see and feel about yourself determines how well you’ll enjoy life and also your level of success.

Ensure to develop appropriate self-esteem, if you lack the confidence or have low self-esteem, ensure to seek out help.

Have any suggestions?

Leave a comment below, let’s share your thoughts.