Building healthy self-esteem is not a journey of just one day. It is something you should continue to work at so long as you are aware that your self-confidence is not at the right level.
But you have to examine yourself to be sure that you have not assumed some familiar dispositions that are hindering your progress.
There is no one size fits all level of self-esteem. It’s all relative. You just have to make sure yours is at the best level it should be per time.
If you have issues with your self-esteem, be aware that you are not alone. Many people have that problem as well. But that doesn’t mean you should not do anything to change it.
In changing the trajectory of the development of your self-esteem, what you do is as much important as what you don’t do. They all work together to make up what gives you your sense of personal value – your self-esteem.
Why trying to build your self-esteem, is it possible you are doing some things that hinder your progress?
If the answer is yes, I’ve got some helpful suggestions for you in this post.
Of course you already know there are positive steps you can take in building healthy self-esteem. All well and good.
So go ahead and take those forward steps. For instance,
- Be a little more assertive than you have ever been before.
- Build relationships with people with healthy self-esteem.
- Don’t dwell with people wallowing in the pit of low self-esteem.
- Read more books
- Improve your knowledge and skills.
- Exercise (more).
- Shed some weight.
- Develop a sense of humour, etc
While all the above are important, let’s make a complementary effort by spotlighting some negative things you do that water down your self-esteem building efforts.
Before I reveal three things you do that counteract your self-esteem, I need to make sure we are on the same page by looking at what self-esteem is all about.
Understanding Self-esteem: Low or High? Balanced or Inflated?
I will not bore you with psychological jargons in explaining the meaning of self-esteem. So I will be as plain as possible.
One definition says your “self-esteem is your sense of personal worth or value.”
The Oxford dictionary defines self-esteem as “confidence in ones worth or abilities.”
Please pay attention to the quoted words, “confidence in one’s worth or abilities.”
This goes to show that if you have high confidence in your worth or abilities, it means your self-esteem is high. Otherwise, what you have is called low self-esteem.
However, if you think you are better than everyone else under the Sun to the extent of undervaluing others, it means you have inflated self-esteem, which is nothing but disguised low self-esteem.
And here is the danger…
An inflated self-esteem is not healthy, both for your personal happiness and for your relationship with other people!
People with inflated self-esteem may find it harder to maintain good relationships with other people compared with people with balanced self-esteem.
The reason is not far-fetched.
An average person will not gravitate towards someone with toxic self-esteem. Yes, inflated self-esteem is toxic to healthy relationships.
If you have an inflated self-esteem, doesn’t that explain (in part) why your relationship with other people might not have been as smooth as you would want it to be?
It is very important for you to have healthy self-esteem. Apart from enhancing your personal sense of happiness, it will also help in improving healthy relationship building with people around you.
So a balanced self-esteem which is a healthy form of self-esteem is a pillar to reckon with whether in building beautiful relationships or getting more out of life.
And you have healthy self-esteem if the value you place on yourself is balanced – appropriate, not low, not inflated.
Related “Self’ Pointing Words
Many things have helped to shape your self-esteem. But they are mostly things that are external to you and maybe out of your control.
In solving your low self-esteem challenge, what if you decide to focus on the things that are internal to you (things you can control) rather than on things that are external to you (things you can’t control)?
Yes, focus on you!
Remember our working definition: self-esteem is “your sense of personal worth or value.”
In the light of that, a few ‘self’ compound words come to mind:
There is a reason ‘self’ is attached to the word ‘self-esteem’ and its functional synonyms as listed above. It is essentially about how you ‘esteem’ or value or see yourself.
Self-esteem is part and parcel of your self-concept, your opinion about yourself.
It encompasses your “subjective evaluation of your own worth” (Wikipedia).
Of course there are many factors affecting your level of self-esteem.
Your age, experiences in life, training or education, social status, upbringing, belief, etc are some of the other things that helped to shape your self-esteem.
In a previous post, I made the following observation:
“Children from broken homes are the most vulnerable to all sorts of ills in life: drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, depression, low self-esteem…”
I pointed out the fact that divorce could give rise to low self-esteem in children who are products of the dissolved marriage.
Despite these aforementioned contributing factors, ultimately, you are responsible for your overall self-esteem.
By that I’m not saying that external circumstances are incapable of increasing or lowering your self-esteem. But I do imply that you personally have a strong role to play in maintaining healthy self-esteem.
The problems and the counter-measures
As I stated earlier, while there are things you can do to build a positive self-esteem, there are also some things you do that hinder your expected progress in building healthy self-esteem.
Is your self-esteem low and you have been struggling to pump it up to no avail?
What if I told you there are some familiar things you (un)knowingly do that sabotage your efforts at building healthy self-esteem?
Follow me as we hit the nail on its head, shortly.
I will help you make some corrections to the familiar things you have been doing wrongly by pointing you in the right direction.
I will not just reveal the underlining problems, I will also proffer some solutions or countermeasures to adopt to win the battle against low self-esteem.
I promise you that if you follow the little tips in the following paragraphs, your self-esteem will have no choice but to move in one direction – upwards.
That brings us to the ultimate question below:
In what familiar ways have you been hurting your self-esteem?
A quote attributed to notable American industrialist, Henry Ford, says,
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right.”
In other words, you rise or fall to the level of your dominant thoughts.
You hurt your self-esteem if you are always thinking about yourself in ways that do not empower you.
The following are three self-inflicted dispositions hindering your progress in building healthy self-esteem.
- You look down on yourself.
- You talk down on yourself.
- You don’t think good (enough) about yourself.
I will now discuss each of the above stated problems and the suggested counter-measures.
1. You don’t think good (enough) of yourself
Do you want to feel good about yourself? Start by thinking good – positive thoughts – about yourself.
If you are someone who doesn’t think good thoughts about yourself, it will negatively impact on your self-image.
Ever heard the simple saying, “It starts from the mind?” This is particularly true when it comes to building healthy self-esteem.
Your negative thinking will eventually affect your disposition to life.
Remember, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
You don’t want to live your life thinking only self-deprecating thoughts. I would like to think that you know that already!
Let me ask you a simple question: from the time you woke up this morning till this moment that you are reading these words, how many good thoughts about yourself have you recorded?
If you cannot readily mention at least five good thoughts you have had about yourself today, then you have not been thinking so many good thoughts about yourself.
It is even worse if instead of thinking good and positive things about yourself, all you have engaged in doing is thinking negatively about you.
If that’s you, it means you do not have a positive self-image. And sadly too, that will show up in your life as an issue of low self-esteem.
Stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. And for every negative suggestion that filters into your mind, counter it with at least three positive ones.
For example, if your mind ever says you are ugly or incapable or unloved, counter it with these:
- Think yourself as beautiful/handsome.
- Think yourself as capable.
- Think your self as worthy of loving and being loved.
- Imagine your self rich.
- Think yourself as smart.
- Think of your as a source of inspiration to someone.
This is just a few suggestions. You can add to the list… anything that makes you think positive thoughts.
2. You talk down on yourself
People who don’t think good of themselves will eventually end up talking down on themselves. And negative self-talk is a self-defeating self-esteem building strategy.
If you think of yourself as dumb, you will talk down yourself.
Two guys were working in the office one day. The first one makes what he considers a terrible mistake in the report he was writing, so he screamed, “I’m an idiot. I’m so incapable of…”
“Yes, you are,” replied the second man without even waiting for the first man to complete his sentence.
“I beg your pardon? I wasn’t …” said the first man, unable to complete his sentence before he was rudely interrupted again.
“Are you angry? You called yourself an….”
“It’s enough. You’ve made your point…”
The point here is this: if the first guy had never thought himself before as being an idiot, hardly would such words proceed from his mouth in a moment of heat.
Don’t forget that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Talking down on yourself is not a sign of humility, it is a sign of low self-esteem.
So if you desire to build good self-esteem, talking down on yourself is not a pastime you want to continue to engage in.
Change the way you speak to your self about you. Resist the temptation to speak evil of, or talk down, on yourself.
The following additional tips can help you:
- Replace negative self-talk with only positive ones.
- Make a conscious effort to speak only positive things about yourself.
- Replace “I’m dumb” with “I’m smart.”
- Replace “I’m unlovable” with “I am lovable and I’m loved.”
- Never again say you are not beautiful/ handsome, because I know you are.
3. You look down on yourself
You have heard the saying, “Don’t look down on another person except you are admiring their shoes?”
That’s fine, but how about “Don’t look down on yourself except you are admiring your own shoes?”
I admit that if you have low self-esteem, you will tend to look down on yourself. But you should think of it like this: if you always look down on yourself, it will result in low self-esteem.
How would you know if you always look down on yourself
You are looking down on yourself, if:
- You don’t appreciate your talents, worth or abilities.
- You never see yourself as deserving anything good from people.
- You don’t see anything good about you.
- You never see your self as beautiful/handsome.
- You find it hard to love yourself.
- You are filled with self-doubt, etc.
- You feel you deserve to be disrespected by other people.
The list is not exhaustive, but if any of the above sentences describes you, it means you have been looking down on yourself. And it is high time you changed that.
People with low self-esteem tend to look down on themselves. So you make it difficult to build healthy self-esteem if all you do is look down on who you are.
It’s bad enough that there are many people who look down on you. Why swell the negative number by looking down on yourself too?
If you want to build healthy self-esteem, the first advise I will give to you is: love yourself. Self-love is not the same thing as selfishness.
Appreciate who you are on your way to whom you are becoming.
Make a list of 10 special things about you (I promise you that if you try, you will come up with more), and focus on them regularly.
Some more tips on how not to look down on yourself:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Give yourself a pat on the back if your heart says you deserve it.
- Don’t get sucked in by the negative things in your life. Deliberately focus on the good ones.
- Show yourself some respect, love, and appreciation because I know you deserve it.
- And whatever else you do, stop looking down on yourself.
It is a good thing to want to build healthy self-esteem for yourself. But you make the journey difficult (if not impossible) by not thinking good thoughts about yourself, by always talking down on yourself and by never seeing anything good about yourself.
Building a healthy self-esteem is an achievable goal. You can achieve it if you set your mind on it.
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