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How to Deal With Having Low Self Esteem

Updated on October 30, 2012

Low self esteem is above all else a cognitive disability. Most people are quick to indicate that the solution lies in the tangible realm (such as losing weight or ditching a relationship), ignoring that these are merely comforts which mask the insecurity and skewed thought processes which form the foundation of feelings of low self-worth.

Dealing with low self esteem and developing a healthy measure of self-respect involves becoming conscious of our own thoughts and combating the symptoms at their roots. In this article I will detail my subjective take on how to confront low-self esteem using reason and action in tandem. A step-by-step approach to objectively seeing ourselves, free from the chains of our own judgment and those of others.


Low Self Esteem Self Diagnosis

A modicum of anxiety and insecurity are a normal and healthy part of personal growth. Where do we draw the line and decide that enough is enough? Below are a list of hallmark symptoms which are attributed to a chronic sense of low esteem.

  • Heavily critical of your own accomplishments.
  • Overly fearful of making mistakes.
  • Overly mindful of the opinion of others.
  • Feelings of chronic guilt and obsessive dwelling on the past.
  • Defensiveness and hostility without an apparent cause, giving rise to feelings of resentment and indecision.
  • An overarching pessimistic outlook.

Overcoming self esteem begins with the realization that it is not a natural state of being, and that we can choose to experience and view life differently. If we can consider this hurdle surmountable, we can begin to power though.

1. Drop The Perfectionism

We live in a society that attempts to drive people towards perfectionism. Be better, stronger, faster and more productive. The problem with this mindset is that it sets standards and objectives that are often unrealistic (I need to get rich, I need to get in shape fast, I need to find the love of my life). Our subsequent inability to meet our personal ambitions rapidly leads to a vicious cycle of disillusionment and perceived failure.

The best way to build confidence and remain pro-active is to set shorter-term, achievable goals. If losing weight is your personal goal, for instance, set manageable weekly targets instead of fixating on the finished product.


2. Positive Internal Monologue

The term internal monologue refers to how and what we say to ourselves within the confines of our own mind. Most of us never stop to think about what we are actually saying to ourselves, and shining a light on the stream of consciousness can be shocking.

A popular exercise involves freely writing anything that crosses your mind down, without any kind of editing of censure. Most will find that negativity, in the form of anger, fear and insecurity is rampant.

Shaping our internal thoughts in a positive way is a way to actively shape the world we live in. For those who feel this concept sounds a little flimsy, consider the fact that it is an observable fact that most humans smile when they are nervous, the same way that cats occasionally purr when they are afraid. The body is attempting to comfort us by mimicking the body language and internal processes of when we are in a positive state! The simple act of smiling can change our outlook in small doses.

3. Fight Or Flight Response

Living in a state of permanent suppressed anxiety is something we could all do without -- and is a drain on our self esteem. While certain negative influences such as illness, financial woes and death are simply facts of life, there is a great deal of anxiety we can shrug off by coming to terms with how our central nervous system works.

Quite simply, the fight or flight response is our body's way of attempting to free us danger by either fighting a threat or running away from it. Consider an anxiety attack, the heart beats faster to provide more oxygen to the muscles, the eyes dilate to see better in the dark and we feel out of breath because the body is actually breathing in too much oxygen. Due to the fact that the majority of our threats in modern society stem from intangible entities, we are no longer able to correctly execute this response. Leading to stagnation and accumulating stress which impacts our mindset and health.

Taking a more active role in our lives by either confronting our problems head-on, or leaving them to their own devices (abandoning destructive relationships or finding a more rewarding job -- for instance) is a great way to assuage our stress and feel better about ourselves in the long-term.

4. Strike A Social Balance

In times of stress and critically low self-esteem it can be hard to think outside of the bubble of our own pain. One often ignored routine that greatly waters the stem of self-worth is that of charity. Studies show that charity is a proven way to lessen the severity of our own depression. Here's why:

  • Our pain becomes relative and objective.
  • We are of genuine help to others, granting us a healthy slice of self-worth. Quelling our perennial innate search for meaning and need in our lives
  • We are able to positively influence the lives of others.
  • A "helper's high" which involves a tangible long-lasting release of energy and natural pain killers.

One needn't join a charity organization in order to reap the benefits of altruism. Simply smiling at strangers is enough to catalyze the onrush of well-being.

5. The Cure-All Known As Fun

The ability to laugh at oneself and others is perhaps the swiftest way of normalizing self esteem. Sometimes the sheer joy of putting oneself first and enjoying the time that we have, ignoring the swell of guilt that can accompany self-centered joy, is the hardest task of all. Breaking the unwritten rules and judgments that we attribute to life itself.

Sometimes realizing that the judgments from others that we are fear are also manifestations of the same insecurity that we are attempting to run from. That defining who we are and where we are going, independently of what others think, say or do, is the greatest power of all.


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    • mathira profile image

      mathira 5 years ago from chennai

      Self confidence and sense of humor go a long way in making you keep your self esteem intact. Good hub thooghun.

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 5 years ago

      I like the idea of freely writing anything that crosses one's mind, without censure, as a way of finding out more about our thoughts. Wonderful hub, thooghun. Voted up!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      eHealer, thank you so much for your time and feedback (as always!).

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thoogun, excellent! You are so right, self esteem is an internal ideology that forces us to strive for perfection. "If I lose weight, buy a Mercedes, get married, have children, etc., I will be happy!" It is what makes us human and so impossible to please. Great hub! Voted up and shared.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you Sommer!! ;)

    • SommerDalton profile image

      Sommer Dalton 5 years ago

      Very informative and positive hub! Voted up plus 2!