This article articulates 5 frequent causes of low self-esteem and tells you how to fight each one of them effectively to build more confidence.
1. Negative Authority Figures
We give a lot of power to the authority in our life.
When we give someone permission to tell us what to do, we invest a lot of trust in that person.
This level of trust is necessary for any relationship’s success, but it can have pretty severe consequences when the authority figure is overly critical, harsh, cruel or simply just negative.
Their opinion of you becomes so valuable, that it’s easy to take their judgments of you as fact.
How to Change it
It’s important to realize that you cannot change others.
If you’re stuck in a situation with a negative authority figure, your focus cannot be on attempting to make them change their behaviors or respect you.
Instead, you only have control over your reaction.
If the situation is bad enough, you should leave. However, if you choose to stay, you’ll need to recognize your reactions to their behaviors and words.
For every negative comment, they make about you, fight back in your mind with a positive comment. If they say “You always mess this up.” Remind yourself “I always do my very best. I am a hard worker that anyone would be lucky to have.”
2. Negative Relationships
The same principles above apply here.
When you give someone your trust, it’s just easy to believe everything they say, even when they are saying something about you. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that other people have more insight about us than we do.
Objective opinions can be helpful when they come from a place of encouragement and not judgment, but that’s not always the case with unsolicited advice.
How to Change it
The next time someone makes a comment about your behaviors, character, appearance or abilities, ask yourself where they are coming from. Are they genuinely showing compassion or are they judging, criticizing or attempting to control you?
When you think about what their intentions are, you might discover that they’re projecting or judging.
If you do discover this, you can step back and realize that their opinions are exactly that – opinions. Give yourself permission to trust them and love them without giving power to their judgments.
3. Guilt About Previous Choices
Yes, we all make mistakes.
When you really think about it though, every “mistake” you have made has led to something powerful and positive.
Even the worst mistakes open doors for learning, insight, and change. When you focus on the negative consequences of choices and feel guilt over them, you create a cycle of low self-esteem.
How to Change it
Recognizing the positive outcomes of “mistakes” or “failures” is the first step to realizing that there’s really no such thing.
If you’re really tangled up in the guilt you feel about a specific choice you’ve made, try reflecting on that choice a little further and see if you can find ways in which your life changed for the better.
Take some time to journal about this experience. It’s important to write down and solidify the discoveries you make.
Sometimes, getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper helps you step back from them and see their value.
Think about something you feel guilty about and write down every positive thing you can think of that resulted from that choice, even if it’s “I learned to never do that again.”
4. Unrealistic Goals
It is wonderful to dream and think big!
Reaching for the stars is a worthy attempt, but if it’s your only goal, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
That failure can cause big self-esteem issues.
Oftentimes, we set unreachable goals for ourselves because we know we won’t achieve them and it reaffirms the negative beliefs we have about ourselves.
How to Change It
Goal setting is so important.
It helps us focus our passions, needs, and interests.
Go ahead and set huge goals for yourself, but be sure to set small milestones along the way that you know you’ll be able to achieve.
By setting yourself up for success, you’ll be more likely to actually reach your goals.
For example, you may want to be a famous singer and have a platinum album. That’s a great goal to have, but if it’s your only goal, you’re going to be disappointed.
Setting smaller goals like:
- Play at a local open mic
- Gain 300 fans on Facebook
- Record a demo album
- Find a manager
These can be achieved way faster and the confidence boost from achieving those “small” goals will help you achieve your big dreams!
5. Constant Comparison
It is so easy to compare ourselves to others these days.
People put the best of themselves on social media and we convince ourselves that we are seeing the whole picture.
When you’re only looking at a small sliver of someone else’s life – one that they chose to present to the world – it’s easy to compare yourself and feel pretty awful.
How to Change it
Though the best solution to this is to stop comparing yourself, that’s easier said than done.
If you do fall into the trap of comparisons, remind yourself that you’re only seeing what the other person wants you to see.
Think about the things you share with others – either in social media or in real life. You’re probably not putting every failure or bad experience out there for everyone to see.
This doesn’t mean you need to negatively judge others.
Rather, it means that you can feel happy for someone else without feeling bad for yourself.
There’s simply not enough information to draw real conclusions and comparisons.
It can be a big time waster and make you feel awful. Instead, show compassion and feel joy for other’s joy.