Low self-esteem can be overcome. As someone who has low self-esteem, I read several self-help blogs teaching how to build high self-esteem but they just left me being frustrated. The more I tried to build high self-esteem, the more I recognized I was deep in low self-esteem.
My success came when I was able to recognize that building high self-esteem is not the cure for low self-esteem just like blood transfusion is not the cure for bleeding.
Although someone having severe bleeding needs blood, they first need to stop bleeding. In the same way, a person who has low self-esteem needs to build high self-esteem but first needs to get cured of low self-esteem.
Understanding what low self-esteem is will help you grab these concepts better.
What is low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem is a conviction a person has about themself that they are either not valuable, needed, or making any meaningful contribution and so, not worthy of what other people are worthy of.
Note that low self-esteem is not a feeling. Although certain feelings originate from low self-esteem, those feelings are not low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a conviction or belief one has developed concerning themself that sponsors how they feel and behave. It’s a psychological state or a mindset.
Having this understanding tells us that what you need if you’re having low self-esteem is freedom from that belief that you are not valuable or needed. Once those thought patterns have been successfully eliminated you can then begin to see yourself as not just valuable but begin to build a HIGH-value mindset.
Alright, straight to the cure: a self-therapy anyone can go through
How To Overcome Low Self-esteem
1. Identify what you are feeling and criticize it
Remember low self-esteem manifests as a feeling that is sponsored by a belief. The first step to getting free from that belief is to identify what it is causing you to feel. The feeling well defines the belief.
To help with this, I have found that identifying a behavior that was caused by that low self-esteem is the easiest way to trace the feeling underneath it. For example, if you were invited to speak in front of a class and you become anxious or try to avoid it, that is a good point to identify the feeling.
You ask yourself, “why don’t I want to speak in front of the class? What am I afraid will happen? What do I need to be assured of before I can speak in front of the class?”
You must be honest with yourself for this to be effective. After you have found the feeling, you are one step closer to freedom because awareness and acceptance is the first step toward change.
What you might find is “I am afraid I don’t know what to say or I am afraid people might not like what I have to say or I am afraid people don’t like me” or anything else.
You should be careful not to fall into the trap of saying I don’t just like it because if you have adopted an abnormal response for long, it can seem like a normal response to you.
So there is a lot of sincerity needed in this stage
The proof that the reason why you don’t want to do a thing is that you don’t just like it is that when there is a need to do it you don’t feel anxious about it. If doing and not doing it leaves you at the same anxiety level, then you don’t just like it.
From experience after successfully tracing down the root feelings and beliefs behind low self-esteem, you will discover one of these two beliefs:
- I don’t have anything to offer
- People will not appreciate what I have to offer
I have explained what these two beliefs are and how to identify them in this article.
The Two Types of Low Self-Esteem And How To Overcome Them
Once you have identified which belief is seated at the root of your low self-esteem, you can criticize it
How To Criticize Your Thoughts
- Seek proof to see if the thoughts are true or not
- Imagine several contexts to see where the thoughts apply or not
- If you find the claims to be true, find out the reasons
- Continue to ask “why” until you find the root belief.
Related: How To Criticize Your Thought And Uproot Negative Beliefs
If at the root of all your thoughts and beliefs you find that you truly don’t have what to offer or people won’t appreciate it, read this article.
But most of the time, the only reason why you will still think you aren’t valuable is that you haven’t done the criticism well. I have written an in-depth guide to help you criticize your thoughts
2. Identify, focus on and emphasize your strengths
The fact that you think you don’t have what to offer or people won’t appreciate what you have to offer is proof that you aren’t aware enough of your strengths.
There are several abilities you have, there are several things that are admirable about you, and there are things you can do that others find difficult. You have to take out time to identify these things.
You can easily find them by reflecting on the compliments you have received at one point or the other, those things you have done and people commended (even when you didn’t accept the commendation because you thought it doesn’t worth much).
Also identify those things you enjoy doing, the ones you do most of the time even though you keep hiding them because it doesn’t seem worthwhile to you.
You need to understand that every one that is doing something you admire is simply capitalizing on their strength. Those strengths were also something unseemly and would have remained just like yours if they didn’t take possession of it and make it worthwhile.
Now, everybody has strengths including you. You probably already have some things popping up in your mind right now. “I think I can do this or that!” Identify as many of them as you can identify and place your focus on them.
In the same way, you have “so many” weaknesses, everybody has weaknesses too but you can choose to look at whatever you want to look at.
2b On identifying your strength(s), begin to work towards releasing and refining it to make it beneficial to others. While you do that, you will need a lot of affirmations.
Understand that the valuation you give yourself is now a deep-rooted belief that has formed over time, so you need a lot of reconditioning of your mind till a new belief of strength and value is formed.
Your affirmations here are targeted toward removing the former beliefs… “I am not a pack of junk, I have value to contribute” and so on.
I usually separate affirmation as another treatment plan making it four steps because of how pertinent it is to the process, but it is a subset of identifying and emphasizing your strength because what you are affirming are your strengths.
Related: How To Do Self-Affirmation Productively and Improve Your Self-Esteem
3. Separate your work from your worth
Your self-esteem will continually be shaky if you think you have to earn or work for your worth. You need to understand that your existence on Earth in itself means you are worthy and valuable already because of the significant role you have to play in the overall program of life.
This is separate from what you do or don’t do. Although the work that you do (work means production or contribution) has a role to play, it is not the main thing. Your work is the outlet of your worth, but not the definition of it.
So your assignment in this third treatment plan is to convince yourself that you are worthy already and don’t have to do anything to become worthy. You are not just doing this because you want to build high self-esteem or get free from low self-esteem. Instead, you should do it because it is true.
You are indeed worthy already. What you do (your work) comes to play as a response to the worth you have. That is, “I know I have a significant role to play which makes me valuable. As a result of this, I will work to play that role.”
Now you can see that you are not trying to work to make yourself significant or valuable. Instead, you are working to do what you are meant to do.
With this in mind, at times when you do things that aren’t so admirable or things that don’t “worth” much compared to what others are doing, you are not afraid or insecure that you’d stop being worthy or valuable since your work has never been the basis on which your worth was built.
Does this mean you shouldn’t try to do impressive things? Certainly not!
You will still produce quality work but the difference is the motive behind the work. Now you are producing quality work so you can play your role better than you would have played it with mediocre work.
You are constantly improving your work because you understand your value and the serious impact not working will have on the overall program of life.
Once you have been able to get to that point, you now have true self-esteem. You are no longer giving yourself a lower worth than you have. You can then go on to build high self-esteem, seeing yourself as someone worth much because you understand you are worth much.
To overcome low self-esteem, you should
- Identify which type of low self-esteem you have
- Identify, focus on, and emphasize your strengths
- Be secure in your true self-worth separate from what you do or don’t do
Now that you are free from low self-esteem, that is just the first step. You now need to learn How To Build Your Self-Esteem From Scratch
Bonus Tip: At the root of low self-esteem is the comparison with others. You think you don’t have what to offer or people won’t appreciate it because you are comparing yourself with what you see in others.
As long as you continue comparing yourself with others, you can’t be free from low self-esteem because people will always do better than you do. However, if you understand and use the third treatment plan, there will be no need to compare yourself with others.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.