The following behaviours are related to low self-esteem:
- Excessive self-criticism
- Poor self-image
- You are always comparing yourself to others
- You handle mistakes badly
- You struggle to say no or ask for what you want
- You live by a strict rule-book filled with ‘shoulds’
- You are addicted to the approval of others
- Constant guilt and shame cause you great anxiety
- You are often angry and/or display a hostile attitude
If you would like a healthy self-esteem, counselling can help.
Why can’t I accept who I am?
Having low self-esteem is like a never-ending self-sabotage. While being aware of your weaknesses gives you a good sense of whom you can and cannot be, nurturing negative thoughts about yourself is soul destroying.
Happiness and contentment are virtually impossible without a healthy self-esteem. It becomes very difficult to attain personal or professional fulfilment when you are unable to recognise the merit of who you are and what you do. Low self-esteem makes everything pointless. It feels as if you were at the service of something much bigger than yourself, something you can never satisfy. It makes you feel as if the true you did not count.
Those who do not value themselves have a bad time trying to adapt to the demands of modern life. Be it at work, with family, in social or loving relationships, a fragile sense of self gets you nowhere you genuinely want to be. Thanks to a self-defeating attitude, you act like a two-time loser: you cannot appreciate the good that is inside or around you.
The many faces of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is like Scylla in Homer’s Odyssey, a nasty sea monster with multiple heads sticking out of its ugly, slimy body. Low self-esteem as a dreadful thing of many faces, drags you down as if to the dark bottom of the ocean, blinding and robbing you of all your self-power.
The faces of low self-esteem are many. See below for some of its most common:
- Negative self-talk: it is like having an annoying gremlin living permanently on your shoulders, whose job is to find fault with everything you do. This gremlin has incredible energy, it goes on and on about what could/would have been better ‘if you were/had done A, B or C’. It is so relentless and attention seeking, that keeps you awake at night or wakes you up in the middle of your sleep just to remind you of its presence
- My mirror, my enemy: you find it hard to like what you see, literally. Be it your face, body, emotions or behaviour, there is always something about you that should be improved or corrected. You keep your focus on searching for imperfections as if it were your duty to do so
- Nothing is ever good enough: you are always chasing that high standard without ever actually reaching it, like a hamster on a wheel. You keep betting your happiness on games you can never win. It is truly exhausting, but you keep doing it since nothing feels worse than the prospect of rejection
- You lack assertiveness: you feel insecure of yourself and find it hard to validate your interests. Your confidence seems to leave you when you most need it. You fail to act for a fear of making mistakes or being misunderstood. Feelings of inadequacy tend to win against your will to be heard, while guilt and shame come to haunt you for being unable to stand for yourself
- You are oversensitive: you do not understand the concept of constructive criticism. You shrink into yourself when you hear a negative comment about anything related to your person. You take everything personally, as if life were an ongoing battle between you and those who are out ‘to control’ and ‘humiliate’ you
- Your love is my love: you need the approval of others to feel good about yourself. No matter what good comes out of you, it only makes you feel whole when recognised by others. Your happiness relies greatly on external factors that you tirelessly try to keep under control, as through your renowned people pleasing skills
- Should, the bully: you have very strict rules for everything you do. When you don’t perform as you should have, your world falls apart. There isn’t much room for negotiation when it comes to evaluating yourself, you have to be what you should be. Anything but and shame and guilt take over you as dangerous, life-threatening diseases.
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