5 Ways Low Self-Esteem Rules Your Life and How to Overcome It

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” 
Mark Twain (Tweet This)

Low self-confidence is a challenge many adults face. Here, we’ll address five frequent causes of low self-esteem and how to fight each one of them.

1) Negative Authority Figures

We give a lot of power to the authority figures 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 the success of most relationships, but it can cause severe consequences when the authority figure is overly critical, harsh, cruel, or negative.

Their opinion of you becomes so valuable that it’s easy to accept 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 change their behaviors or make them respect you.

Instead, you only have control over your reaction.

If the situation is bad enough, you should leave. But, 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 mentioned above apply here.

When you give someone your trust, it’s 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. Yet, that’s not always the case when it comes to unsolicited advice.

How to Change It

The next time someone makes a comment about your behavior, character, appearance, or abilities, ask yourself where they are coming from. Are they genuinely showing compassion, or are they judging, criticizing, and 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 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 tangled up in the guilt you feel about a specific choice you’ve made, try reflecting on that choice a little further. See if you can discover 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 your findings.

Sometimes, getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper helps you step back 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. 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 end up disappointed.

Set smaller goals like:

  • Play at a local open mic
  • Gain 300 fans on Facebook
  • Record a demo album
  • Find a manager

Achieving these goals will take less time. The confidence boost from reaching 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 choose to present to the world — it’s easy to compare yourself.

How to Change It

Though the best solution 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 through 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 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 others’ joy.

This article on self-esteem was originally published on MindValley Academy. If you liked it, you can like it on Medium, share it on Facebook and Twitter, or follow us!

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