Self-esteem is important for daily functioning. Having strong self-esteem can help you enjoy your life and be healthier. However, if you have low self-esteem, it can cause you to be less happy and experience many mental and physical health problems.
Having strong self-esteem is a skill like any others and it needs to be worked on. This article describes the importance of self-esteem and some methods for building it.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is having self-confidence. If you have strong self-esteem, you are satisfied with who you are as a person and are able to accept your flaws. If you have low self-esteem, you might not like yourself very much. Sometimes people believe they have to be perfect for others to like them and to like themselves.
It is important to realize is that everyone has flaws. The first step to gaining self-esteem is accepting the fact that we all make mistakes and that no one is perfect.
Why do people have low self-esteem?
There are variety of reasons that people may experience low self-esteem. One reason can be listening to the criticism of others. So much of what we hear and tell ourselves is negative. All of this criticism can make anyone feel bad. If we continue to focus on this negativity, we will be unhappy with ourselves
Setting unrealistic expectations is another reason that many people experience low self-esteem. If the standards you set for yourself are impossible to meet, you will never be satisfied with yourself. It is important to keep expectations in line with reality.
Victims of abuse and trauma are at a greater risk for low self-esteem and other health problems. While it can be beneficial to seek professional help no matter why you are experiencing low self-esteem, if your self-esteem problems stem from abuse or trauma, it is especially important to seek professional help.
What kind of problems can low self-esteem cause?
While we all feel bad about ourselves from time to time, feeling bad about yourself most of the time can lead to a variety of problems. If you have low self-esteem you may be afraid to try new things, which could cause you to miss professional and personal opportunities. It can negatively affect friendships and romantic relationships. It can also cause depression and other health problems. In addition, some people with low self-esteem bully others in an attempt to feel better about themselves.
Do others feel bad about themselves?
If you feel bad about yourself, you are not alone. Everyone feels bad about themselves at one time or another. Some people feel bad about themselves almost all of the time. It can be difficult to see when others have low self-esteem. Some very confident-appearing people have low self-esteem, but manage to hide their feelings of inadequacy (feelings of not being good enough). Some people who experience extreme feelings of inadequacy try to make themselves feel better by bullying or putting others down.
How can I improve my self-esteem?
Just like exercising to strengthen your muscles, there are exercises you can do to strengthen your self-esteem. As with strength-training exercises, the more you practice self-confidence building exercises, the the stronger you will become.
Create a list of your strengths
Develop a list of everything you like about yourself. Some people with very low self-esteem will say that there is nothing about them that they like. However, everyone has strengths. The more you think about it, the more positives you will discover.
Every time you think of something you like about yourself, add it to the list. The list should include things you like about your appearance and things you are able to do well. It could be as simple as liking your cheekbones or the color of your eyes. Perhaps you are a very nice person or someone who tells the truth. Keep the list handy and review it daily.
Hone your skills
Pick something you are interested in and practice it. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. When you remind yourself your successes, your self-esteem will increase. You can choose anything to practice, such as playing a sport, playing an instrument, acting, drawing, or writing poetry. Even if you are already good at something, practice will improve your skill. The better you get, the better you will feel.
Have a fantasy day
Pretend to be everything you wish you were just for one day. Pretend you have the "perfect" hair, the "perfect" clothes, or anything else that you wish you had. Act the way you believe you would if you were everything you wish you were. You are likely give off a more happy and confident vibe. This, in turn, will cause people to react to you more positively. Through this fantasy, you are giving yourself a sneak peek at life with more confidence.
Combat negative self-talk
When negative thoughts about yourself surface, remind yourself that no one is perfect. If your self-expectations are unrealistic, replace them with more realistic thoughts. Remind yourself of your strengths and what you like about yourself.
If you have low self-esteem, use the confidence building exercises above to help you improve your self-esteem. It can also be beneficial to seek help from a professional to help you work on building your self-esteem. Many colleges have professional counselors on staff. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide it is imperative to seek help from a professional either on campus or elsewhere.