Something that everyone has in common is that everyone’s had low self confidence at some point. Maybe it was because you didn’t do as well on a test as you’d hoped, you didn’t get that promotion, or because you woke up that way with a big pimple on your forehead.
No matter the reason, no one is born with self confidence. Self confidence is something that you have to work on. If someone appears to have a lot of self confidence, it’s because they’ve worked on it. Life has this way of beating down your self esteem, so you’re the only one capable of building it back up again.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Low Self Esteem?
Some symptoms of self esteem are…
- Sensitivity to criticism
- Hostility (even for no reason)
- Negative thinking
- Afraid of challenging yourself
- A lot of anxiety
While there are of course more, these are the most common symptoms of low self esteem. Also, take these with a grain of salt because just one or two of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have low self esteem; having several of these symptoms does.
Basically, if your fear of not being good enough is always in the back of your mind, that’s your low self esteem talking. Don’t let it take over your life.
What Causes Low Self-Confidence?
Some causes of low-self esteem are…
- Lack of praise and affection
- Being bullied/ made fun of
- Extreme criticism (by teachers, parents, or even kids)
- Stressful life events (such as a breakup or medical problem)
- Abusive relationships (present or past)
- Poor academic performance
Childhood affects your adult life a lot more than you’d think. Positive experiences in your past will most likely affect your adulthood in a positive way and negative experiences will most likely affect your childhood in a negative way.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome low self confidence. Seeking professional advice, such as a therapist isn’t a bad place to start. Therapists help you learn to manage everyday life challenges. Read this article for information about what therapists do.
How Does Having Low Self-Esteem Affect Your Life?
Low self-esteem can affect your life in ways that you may not even know about. Here are some consequences of low self-esteem.
1. You may confuse love with poor relationships
When you have low self-esteem, you don’t expect others to treat you well. This can be dangerous in a relationship because you won’t speak up for yourself when your significant other is doing something that you don’t like or irritates you.
Additionally, you could believe that your partner is too good for you and that you’re ‘beneath’ them. This can cause clinginess and settling for things that you don’t want.
2. Can cause issues with platonic or romantic relationships
Have you ever had a friend that was always negative and didn’t think that they were good enough for anything? Did they always talk about how others have wronged them when they kept allowing the person or situation to keep happening or repeating itself?
It can get a little frustrating to listen to them going on and on about it all the time. (Note: If you had a moment of realization and this is you, don’t worry! Everyone has been this person at some point!)
This fixation and victimization can push loved ones away from you. As harsh as this may sound, while it may be true that you are the victim, if you’ve been in a particular situation many times, then you need to sit down with yourself and brainstorm why this situation keeps happening to you.
Is it because you’ve kept letting a person who did you wrong back into your life? Is it because you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd? Is it because you’re so desperate for a relationship that you’ll settle for anyone who makes you feel good about yourself?
This self-reflection probably won’t feel very good, but it’s essential. You’re in charge of your life. Make sure the people you’re around are actually good for you and your growth.
3. You can misinterpret friendliness for love
This one is similar to the first one, but this consequence causes you to confuse love with friendliness. Like I said before, when you have low self esteem, you don’t expect others to treat you well.
But, when people do treat you well (as they should!), you feel surprised and are thinking about it all day. You feel so overjoyed and grateful that you mistake those feelings with love.
This can cause issues in your platonic or romantic relationships because you may start to read acts of kindness as a sign of interest in you. And, this could lead to a cycle of allowing poor people into your life.
4. You have an increased risk for mental illnesses
According to The University of Baself researchers, low self-esteem can lead to depression.
Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen noted that low self-esteem is “A key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.
5. It can inhibit your job and/or academic performance
Low self confidence can prevent you from taking risks, asking for a raise, or standing up for yourself. During presentations, you may talk too quietly or apologize for things that aren’t your fault.
This will make your employers and your colleagues believe that you’re unsure of your abilities.
Academically speaking, low self esteem could cause you to think that you’re not as smart as your colleagues. Because of these thoughts, you may stop doing your homework because you feel like there’s no point in doing it.
If any of these 5 consequences of low self-esteem sounds like you, please don’t feel bad. A lot of people struggle with low self confidence. You’re not alone. Keep reading to find out how you can change your life and start to build up your self esteem..
How Do You Improve Self Esteem?
Self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. Once you understand this, this journey will get easier and more enjoyable. Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow strutting around like Beyonce. Instead, you need to take baby steps towards self-confidence.
Any small step in the right direction, such as standing up for yourself, is a win.
1. Be Positive
If you just rolled your eyes, I get it. I would’ve too a couple years back. But, if negative thoughts are constantly swirling around in your brain, that’s going to deflate your mood. Challenge your negative thoughts.
If you find yourself thinking about how bad you look or how today is going to suck, those are pretty common thoughts. And that it’s normal to have negative thoughts. Everyone has negative thoughts.
But, if you only have those kinds of thoughts all day, every day, your life isn’t going to be very joyful and exciting. The trick is to turn the negative thought into a positive one.
For instance, if you have a presentation or a meeting coming up, it’s normal to be scared and be a bit anxious. But, if you’re at that meeting or presentation, and you’re about to give your speech, and you’re terrified out of your mind, then your speech isn’t going to go very well.
Instead, acknowledge beforehand that you’re scared. But, also think about the awesome speech that you have prepared. Think about the positive impression you may make on your boss. Think about how everyone’s attention will be on you and that you have the power to make an impact on your workplace.
Thinking positive is a HABIT, and one that you need to nurture.
2. Focus on what makes you feel good
Keep doing the things that make you feel good. Be it your job, hobby, something you like doing – just keep doing it.
Also, think about why you like doing it? Does it make you feel in control? Is it something that you’re an expert on? Is it your passion? Does it relax you?
Once you figure out your what and why, implement that hobby into your day. It doesn’t have to be very long, but do it every day.
Read a chapter of your favorite book, do chemistry equations, paint something for 20 minutes, knit something, cook, do some calculus problems, eat, watch Youtube tutorial about it, etc.
Whatever your passion is, do it as much and as often as you can.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
I know, I know, easier said than done. This tip is on every self-care thread and board and article. But, it’s an important tip so i’m still going to include it.
No one is the same as you. No one has had the exact same upbringing, fears, mindset, struggles, strengths, and weaknesses. This is both freeing and a bit scary.
Anyways, understand that there’s no point in trying to compete with anyone because they’re not you. No matter how much you or they try to be someone else, you’ll never be them.
To be blunt, you each have your own problems to deal with. You’ll have strengths that are some people’s weaknesses and vice versa.
Only seeing the strengths in someone and envying it or comparing yourself against them is not healthy. You do not know their story and what they’ve been through.
Additionally, taking a break from social media, especially Instagram, isn’t such a bad idea. Social media only shows what the people behind the account want you to see. And keep in mind that no one is posting their failures on social media.
Finally, unfollow any people that make you feel poorly about yourself. Like those influencers who make you feel bad about your body or that one acquaintance who seems to have everything going for them in life (you know which one I’m talking about).
4. Accept and give compliments
Accepting compliments can be a bit awkward if you don’t believe you deserve the compliment in the first place. I know; I’ve been there.
But, despite your internal conflicts, accept it nevertheless. A simple thank you and a smile will do. Don’t deny the compliment or make a self deprecating joke.
People aren’t out to get you. They’re not making fun of you. They noticed something about you that they liked and they complimented you on it.
As a quick disclaimer, they ARE some people out there who do give backhanded compliments or intentionally try to destroy someone’s self esteem. These people often feel insecure about themselves (feel free to send them this article 😉 ) But, the majority of people who compliment you aren’t these types of people.
Additionally, giving genuine compliments can boost your self confidence. Noticing the good and the beauty in others will help you find it in yourself as well.
Some quick tips on giving compliment:
- Give a compliment on something the person has control over: The best compliments are on something someone has control over. Try to compliment clothing, shoes, attitude, makeup, personality, etc. While you certainly can compliment on attributes people don’t have control over, such as body shape or ‘ideal’ features, the person can’t really control those things. A compliment about something a person has control over will mean a lot more to them, I promise.
- Don’t catcall: It’s a little sad that some people still need this explained to them but an overwhelming amount of people do NOT like being catcalled. Don’t shout obscene things out of the window at anyone or whistle. It’s rude, makes people uncomfortable, and there’s no point in doing it because they’re not going to appreciate it. Compliments should make people feel good about themselves, not uncomfortable and self conscious.
- Don’t expect anything out of a compliment: If you give someone a compliment, don’t expect them to drop everything and fall in love with you. It’s not going to happen. Compliments aren’t for you to feel good about yourself, it’s to spread positivity and make the recipient feel good about themselves. Don’t be offended or angry when the person says thank you and moves on. If you asked them out for coffee and they declined, move on with your life. You’re not entitled to anything by complimenting someone.
- Make sure the compliment is genuine: Nothing is worse than receiving a compliment you know is fake. Don’t be that person and make sure to actually mean it.
Yes, this tip is on the list. Exercising can relieve stress and make you feel better about yourself. Exercising doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unhappy with your body and want to change it.
Instead, it’s an act of love towards your body. Most people are sitting down all day and don’t move around much. Exercising is giving your body what it needs – movement.
Humans aren’t meant to be sitting down 10 hours per day. It’s bad on your back and your joints.
Exercising also builds discipline (exercising is a routine that you need to stick to), pumps more blood (and therefore oxygen) through your body, releases endorphins (the happy hormone), and it makes you physically stronger.
Conclusion and Closing Thoughts
Remember that building self confidence is a marathon, not a race. You’re building your self confidence for you, not for anyone else. Someone’s beauty isn’t the absence of your own and you bring your own unique traits to the table.
What did you think of this article? Do you have any ideas or tips for dealing with low self confidence or self esteem that weren’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.
About The Author
Valentina Bostick is a blogger about mental illnesses, mental health (particularly depression and anxiety), self-care, and self-improvement. Having struggled with both depression and anxiety for years in the past (and overcame both!), she helps other women learn to overcome them as well.
For those who aren’t struggling with mental illnesses, Val provides resources for self-care, self-improvement, and more on her website.