Signs and Solutions
Low self-esteem affects all of us from time to time, but if your self-esteem is so low that you’re struggling to function, it can have a negative impact on your mental health and your day-to-day life. Let’s look at some common signs of low self-esteem and possible solutions for it.
1. You hate yourself – While there are times when we all dislike who we are, loathing your thoughts and actions is a classic sign of low self-esteem. Self-hate is characterised by feelings of anger and frustration about who you are and an inability to forgive yourself for even the smallest of mistakes.
How to turn self-hatred around:
- Change your internal dialogue: An internal critic fuels self-hate, so step one is to silence the voice in your head by consciously making yourself repeat a positive response for every negative thought you have. Why be your own worst critic? If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.
- Challenge your negative self-beliefs: It’s likely that your sense of who you are is outdated and has been passed to you from others such as your parents, ex-partners and colleagues. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your own script – it’s your life.
2. You’re obsessed with being ‘perfect’ – Perfectionism is one of the more destructive aspects of low self-esteem. A perfectionist is someone who lives with a constant sense of failure because their achievements, no matter how impressive, don’t ever feel quite good enough.
How to combat perfectionism:
- Set realistic expectations for yourself: Consciously think how reasonable and manageable your goals are before striving for them, remembering that life, in general, is imperfect.
- Recognise there is a huge difference: between failing at something you do and being a failure as a person. Don’t confuse the two.
3. You think you bring nothing to the table – We all doubt our ability in certain areas of our lives, but a deep-rooted sense of worthlessness comes from believing that somehow we are not as valuable as others. If this sounds familiar, it’s important to understand that feeling worthy isn’t something given to us by others, but something we have to build ourselves.
How to feel confident about your abilities:
- Stop thinking others are better than you: While it’s fine to think highly of others, it’s irrational to translate this as meaning they are ‘better’ than you. Admire others’ traits, but not at the expense of your own.
- Be aware that we teach others how to treat us: Practise projecting yourself as someone whose opinions are just as valid as others, and your sense of self-worth will begin to rise.
4. You’re oversensitive – Being too sensitive is one of the more painful aspects of low self-esteem. Whether you’re angered by criticism or literally feel demolished by any comment that’s directed at you, it’s important to desensitise yourself.
How to take constructive criticism:
- Really listen to what’s being said: This way you can evaluate whether a comment is true or not, before deciding how you feel about it.
- Be proactive: If there is some truth in it, learn from what’s being said, rather than beating yourself up about it. Constructive criticism can be exactly that, provided you take the comments on board and make changes for the better.
- Move on: Replaying over and over what’s upset you only anchors the memory to you – which won’t help.