Some of the most common characteristics of low-self esteem are:
- Depression / sadness.
- Low mood.
- Avoiding of social situations.
- Feelings of inadequacy.
- Comparing self negatively to others.
- Difficulty accepting compliments.
- Neglect of own needs, particularly emotional ones.
- Putting the needs of others before self.
- Low expectations.
- Difficulty in making/maintaining relationships.
- Concern over impact you have on others.
- Difficulty in trusting own judgement.
- Distorted view of self.
All of these characteristics lead us to shying away from experiences that we may once have relished. An exaggerated negativity of thinking encourages any experiences we have had to be blown out of proportion, which stops us from trying again.
Telling yourself to just be more confident will not work, as we need a solid evidence base in order to move forward. This is not a quick process, as chances are your confidence and self-esteem have been eroded over a significant period of time.
Think about the times when you feel your self-esteem was at its lowest (work, social situations, relationships, etc). By identifying this, you can start to work on it.
Some of the techniques you can try could be to:
- Try becoming more assertive in a variety of situations.
- Do things which allow you to feel positive about yourself.
- Catch negative self-talk and consider the validity of it.
- Set yourself a challenge or goal. Make sure it is a realistic one!
- Take care of your physical self as well as your emotional self.
- Engage in activities which you enjoy.
- Where possible, avoid people who have a negative impact on you and connect with those who have a positive impact, or simply whose company you enjoy.
- Acknowledge your achievements no matter how small.
- Try not to avoid situations which you find uncomfortable; successful exposure can build confidence when you acknowledge the successes achieved.
It can be of great benefit to consider things from the perspective of someone else, or take a ‘helicopter view’ of the situation. The helicopter view allows us to rise above the situation and see the whole view, not just our perspective. When we are close up, we are less objective; when we see the bigger picture, we can see the impact of each individual involved in the situation and be more objective about ourselves and others.
Do not judge yourself; accept that this will all take time, but with determination and a willingness to change you can make a significant difference to your life.