10 Ways To Help You Work Through Low Self Esteem
1. Watch out for adding insult to injury.
Having a low self esteem is difficult, it’s painful, and it's hard to work through. Often times people who have a low self esteem will go a step further and get mad at themselves or blame themselves for having a low self esteem. Adding this extra layer on is tempting and hard to talk yourself out of sometimes. I want to encourage you to start noticing when you do this, and maybe just give yourself the permission not to add that extra insult to a self esteem injury that is healing.
2. Know that your low self esteem isn't entirely your fault.
To a large extent, our life choices can impact our self esteem, for example we can choose to do things that improve our self esteem such as going to therapy. It may be worth mentioning here that our self esteem was strongly impacted by our childhoods and external factors beyond our control when we were growing up. Histories of emotional and physical abuse are strongly linked to lower self esteem in adult years. Developing a self compassion practice and connecting to your inner child can be helpful is one way to begin to heal these wounds.
3. Be aware when you are letting another person dictate how you feel about yourself.
If someone doesn’t like us, it can be really tempting to take it personally, and to make meaning of it. If someone rejects you, it doesn't mean that you are not valuable or great. People with lower self esteems tend to be more susceptible to the opinions of other people, feeling more “wounded” and taking it more personally when they are rejected. People with higher self esteems generally allow a rejection to roll off their shoulders a lot easier. Remember, if someone treats you unkindly it is a reflection of them, not you.
4. Do things that make you feel good.
Things that are just for you. Get a pedicure, get your haircut. Go to a yoga class, or three. Lift some weights, cook yourself healthy meals. Indulge yourself on little things, like baths or extra long showers. Maintaining great self care is an easy way to improve self esteem right away.
5. Don’t be friends with people who don't value you or your time.
Some Indicators of this are if someone that you are friends with consistently flakes on you, especially if they are flaking to hang out with someone else or to do something that they think is more fun. Another indicator is if you are the only one reaching out, or if you are always the one to initiate contact. Keep in mind that everyone goes through hard times, transitions and phases, try to determine if this friend is just having a hard time, or if they have consistently acted this way with you. Do you have a friend who always makes you the butt of the joke, puts you down in subtle ways, or indicates that they don't value you? If any of the above apply to your friendship it may be worth checking in with them, explaining how it makes you feel and requesting they stop, before making a decision to end the friendship.
6. Don’t date people who don’t value you or your time.
This paragraph is in line with the previous paragraph. The general sentiment here is this: is your person of interest keeping you waiting? Not responding to texts in an appropriate timeline?(the timeline is different for everyone, but generally, the same day) Are they flaking on you or rescheduling more often than not? Do they only want to come over late at night, or after their other plans are over? Do they keep you in the dark about the status of your relationship? People with low self esteems may settle for less than what they want, because they believe that what they want is too much to ask for.
7. Set small and achievable goals for yourself, and then, achieve them.
Often times, people with a lower self esteem may set perfectionistic or harder to achieve goals for themselves and then feel bad about not achieving them. If your goals are broken up into smaller goals, then they can be easier achieved, and you can feel good about being able to achieve them and about yourself.
8. Spent just as much time noticing your “good” attributes as you do your “bad” ones.
A common tendency among those with lower self worth is to get down on oneself for all of the things that they don't like about themselves. I would like to encourage you to accept this challenge: for every bad thing that you notice, take a second to think about and notice something good as well.
9. Let yourself be a little angry - and not just at yourself.
Because you deserve to get angry every once in a while if someone cuts you in line, is rude to you on the road, or doesn't treat you nicely. It doesn't make you a bad person to stand up for yourself.
10. Permission and apologies not necessary.
Although it is nice at times to ask people for permission to do something, it may not be necessary and it may even be disempowering for you to defer to someone else. Of course, respect other people's boundaries and ask for consent in situations that involve another, but when it comes to you, you may not need someone else’s permission. Also, saying sorry is more powerful when you’ve actually done something wrong.
Bianca Aarons LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco. Bianca’s specialties include attachment, trauma, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, relationship issues, depression issues, couples work and work with teenagers. Learn more about Bianca at www.biancaaarons.com, email her at BiancaAaronsMFT@gmail.com, or call her at (415) 553-5346 to ask any questions or to set up a consultation session.