“ The man who does not value himself cannot value anything or anyone”
When someone has a healthy sense of self, it shows. They stand a little taller, walk a little more purposeful, and exude self-confidence. Their demeanor radiates a sense of worthiness, of having value. On the other hand, when someone has low self-esteem it is also visible in the way they comport themselves. They may lack vigor or seem fatigued. They give off an air of apology, a defeatist attitude, and seem rather insecure in their actions.
Why do some people have an abundance of healthy self-esteem, where others are mired in low self-esteem? What is the secret ingredient to living a life feeling confident and worthy? What steps can we take to build up our self-esteem and live our best life? This article will help identify the root causes of low self-esteem and offer tips for improving feelings of self-worth.
What is Low Self Esteem?
Low self-esteem can hamper someone in a variety of ways. They may suffer in their career because they don’t have the confidence in themselves to tackle new challenges at work. They may be hindered in their interpersonal relationships because they are depressed, insecure, and lack communication skills. When someone is plagued with low self-esteem they may exhibit the following traits:
- Socially awkward
- Withdrawn, shy
- Unmotivated, low energy
- Poor self-image
- A follower
- Poor communication skills
People who have low self-esteem often feel unloved, or unlovable. To compensate for these feelings they may act out, through angry or bullying behavior, or they may seek to isolate themselves in order to avoid any social confirmation of their perceived flaws.
What Causes Low Self Esteem?
The causes of low self-esteem are often traced back to emotional scars from childhood. A child may have been neglected or abused, and may have acquired an attachment disorder as a result. Negative early life experiences can leave a child feeling unmoored, so to speak. A child may be left with perpetual feelings of insecurity that persist into adulthood. The various possible causes of low self-esteem include:
- Being bullied in childhood
- Parental affection withheld
- Praised only when achieving a particular goal
- Harsh parental standards, frequent punishment
- Negative body image
- Struggled academically in school, learning disorders
- Successive failed relationships
Parents have great power to influence the ultimate level of self-esteem that their child will carry through life. Constant criticism in the absence of praise, ridiculing the child, withholding affection, and abuse and neglect can all contribute toward low self-esteem.
Understanding the Effects of Extremely Low Self Esteem
The effects of low self-esteem can be significant, impacting every facet of life. Walking through life feeling less-than signals to others that you do not value yourself. Unfortunately, the factors that contribute to developing low self-esteem are often introduced at a young age and can literally scar us for life. Some of the effects of low self-esteem include:
- Mental health disorders. Depression and anxiety are common among individuals with extremely low self esteem.
- Promiscuous sex. When affection is withheld in childhood, teens and adults with low self-esteem may engage in promiscuous sexual behaviors. Subconsciously, they are seeking love and connection, what they felt lacking in their childhoods.
- Substance abuse. Perpetual feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and insecurity can stoke the need to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
- Self-loathing. When a person grows up feeling unloved and constantly criticized they may begin to hate themselves. Self-loathing only perpetuates negative behaviors.
- Victimhood. Feeling powerless results in a sense of victimhood, as if there is nothing you can do to change your situation. This sets up a situation where the person can be easily taken advantage of with little or no protest.
- Lack of self-care. When you have a low opinion of yourself you are not interested in self-care. Personal hygiene, maintaining good physical, mental, or dental health takes a back seat.
- Overcompensating. Becoming a perfectionist is a common trait of someone with low self-esteem. Also, being overly generous in an effort to win over friends is common.
- Problem relationships. When you inwardly feel unworthy of love, relationships suffer. Individuals with low self-esteem often struggle to retain lasting relationships. It is common that they have poor communication skills as well, adding to the dysfunction in the relationships.
Low Self-Esteem and Mental Health Disorders
Low self-esteem may continue to worsen, culminating in depression or anxiety as time goes on. Low self-esteem is also a common trait among individuals who have a mental health disorder. When feeling inferior to others, worthless, ineffective, and awkward begin to affect daily functioning, it is important to connect with a mental health professional to seek therapy. The two most common mental health disorders associated with low self-esteem are depression and anxiety.
Depression: Depressive disorders affect more than 17 million people in the US annually. The symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in eating habits, sudden weight gain or loss
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
- Slowed movements
- Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
- Suicidal ideation
Anxiety: Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million Americans each year. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Excessive worry, feelings of dread or fear
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty concentrating
Low Self Esteem and Substance Use Disorders
One of the coping mechanisms employed by individuals will extremely low self esteem is substance abuse. The use of alcohol or drugs to help subdue the emotions associated with feeling so badly about oneself is a common method of self-medicating. Unfortunately, this can develop into a substance use disorder that can cause even more misery for the individual.
Symptoms of a substance use disorder include:
- Increased tolerance to the effects of the substance, leading to increased usage
- Urges or cravings to use or drink
- Obsessed about having enough of the substance on hand
- Lying to others about substance consumption, hiding drug or alcohol in house or at work
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence
- Continue to use the substance, even in light of negative consequences
- Attempts to stop using the substance fail
- When substance is not available withdrawal symptoms emerge.
6 Tips for Improving Self Esteem
- Get outside of yourself. One of the best ways to overstep feelings of low self worth is to focus attention on others. By providing a service to others, through volunteer activities or charities, or even though your job, you become valuable to them. You are serving their needs and helping to improve their lives. Feelings of self-confidence and worth emerge as a result of these efforts.
- Set new goals. Create a couple of simple goals, such as fitness goals. Set aside time each day to actively pursue the goals, such as carving out 20 minutes for a daily walk or trying out a new workout at the gym. When these are done consistently, over time it leads to feeling a sense of accomplishment, which improves self-esteem.
- Self-care. Commit to doing one special self-care ritual per month. This might be getting a mani-pedi, a massage, or a facial. This little bit of self-pampering is sending a message to yourself that you are worth it, you are valuable, and you deserve to feel good about yourself.
- Limit social media. There is a direct connection between time spent on social media and negative self-image. Social media tends to fan the flames of envy and pride, causing many to feel they do not measure up to others’ wonderful and exciting lives, however illusionary they might be. So, limit exposure to social media for improved self-esteem.
- Support. Find a support group in the community that focuses on building up self-esteem. A therapist can refer someone suffering with low self-esteem to a support group that provides social support and fresh insights about building up self-esteem. There are also MeetUp groups that provide meetings and activities that help to enhance self-esteem.
- Practice mindfulness. Get into the habit of reining in the negative self-talk and view these irrational thoughts as barriers to happiness. By practicing mindfulness, which is the purposeful attention to the present moment, this new habit helps to train the mind to ignore distracting thoughts that take away from enjoying the here and now.
Treatment for Low Self Esteem
When a more intensive treatment intervention for extremely low self esteem is called for, a residential wellness center can provide a safe, supportive environment for healing and personal growth. This setting is especially appropriate if the low self-esteem is accompanied with a mental health disorder. The residential program allows for a tailored treatment approach that can address the specific needs of the individual. Treatment elements might include:
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Holistic therapies
- Experiential activities
- Exercise and nutrition
With the help of a compassionate treatment team, a residential program can lead the individual toward embracing a renewed self-image and enhanced self-esteem.
The Treatment Specialist Provides Comprehensive Information About Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
The Treatment Specialist is a digital resource for individuals seeking guidance for a mental health disorder such as extremely low self esteem. Our specialists offer free assistance, providing the individual with important information about the effects of low self-esteem on mental health, as well as treatment options. For more information about how to overcome low self-esteem, please reach out to The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.