Millions of Americans suffer from low self-esteem. And if you’re one of them, then you know just how frustrating it can be to go through life feeling like you don’t measure up. But how you respond will dictate who you become.
What is Low Self-Esteem?
As human beings, we each have a level of confidence in our own abilities. When this confidence wanes or disappears, we’re said to have low self-esteem. Common signs and symptoms of low self-esteem include feelings of incompetence, inadequacy, and feeling unloved or unlovable.
Sensitivity to criticism is another common symptom. Whether from yourself or others, you see any type of criticism – even the kind that comes from a loving place – as a knock on your identity.
Hostility is another issue that emerges in many people. It often goes hand in hand with sensitivity to criticism.
“For someone with low self-esteem, lashing out or becoming aggressive towards others is a defense mechanism,” WebMD mentions. “If you feel that you are about to be exposed or criticized, attacking whoever might criticize you can be a sign of low self-esteem.”
Having self-esteem issues can create problems with your mental health, which may actually translate into physical health issues down the line. It can be caused by personality, internal thoughts, or external factors. In many cases, it’s a combination of each.
4 Factors That Can Drag Down Confidence
If you have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, it could be fueled by many factors:
1. Past Scars
In many situations, low self-esteem starts in childhood. If you had parents who neglected you, abused you, or told you that you weren’t good enough, this could have a lasting impact. And while you can’t do anything about what’s already happened, you may find therapy or counseling helpful. A savvy therapist can help you see yourself for who you really are, rather than the person others have incorrectly portrayed you to be.
2. Physical Appearance Issues
There’s no such thing as a perfect or ideal body. Yet, in our minds, we often have this image of what we think we should look like. If we don’t match up, it causes us to feel inadequate. This may result in low self-esteem.
Hair loss is a common example. Millions of men and women suffer from hair loss, which makes them feel self-conscious about their appearance. The good news is there are easy solutions for overcoming hair loss, like low-level laser therapy (LLLT). Just see the difference that LLLT can make and you’ll be a believer.
Obesity would be another example. When you’re overweight, you lack the same level of confidence that you once had when you were in shape. Starting a new diet and exercise plan can help you regain some self-esteem.
3. Failure and Criticism
Failure is a normal part of life. Yet, we have this idea that we should be immune from failing. And if you experience a lot of failure, it can eventually drag down your confidence. (Particularly if the failure is coupled with criticism from others.) The best way to overcome this issue is to find things that you’re good at/enjoy and to do more of them. It also helps to surround yourself with more positive people.
4. Negative Thought Patterns
We all have negative thoughts from time to time. But when you get used to these negative thoughts and they become a part of your daily way of processing information, low self-esteem ensues.
“You’ve probably heard of muscle memory – once you’ve performed a certain physical activity like riding a bike over and over again, your brain automatically signals your muscles to do whatever that activity requires – keeping you balanced on the seat, for example,” therapist Amee LaTour writes. “Your thoughts and feelings actually work in the same way sometimes.”
If you have certain feelings of inferiority, then you’re likely to feel that way until the cycle is broken. The best way to do this is by removing yourself from situations that are negative and by surrounding yourself with positive people and uplifting environments.
Set Yourself Up for Success
There is no cure-all solution for low self-esteem. However, the more aware you are of what the driving forces are behind your situation, the more likely it is that you can solve the underlying issue and reclaim the confidence you need to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.