We have all had unkind words spoken to us and these insults tend to echo in our minds a lot louder than the compliments we have received. Having low self-esteem can foster poor mental health, poor physical health and a lack of social connectedness, which commonly affect significant life outcomes.
Suffering from low self-esteem since childhood or adolescence suggests you are potentially more likely to develop an anxiety disorder, depression or a dependence on alcohol, tobacco or drugs as well as experience poor overall physical health and tougher financial difficulties due to periods of, or long term, unemployment. Poor self-esteem can also result in limited choices, relationship issues and negative life consequences.
Low self-esteem can be caused by abuse, bullying, being unemployed, feeling like you don’t fit in, loneliness, neglect, depression etc. It can be a reflection of how your life is progressing, but it can also be a contributing factor in determining future outcomes, so breaking the cycle and increasing your self-esteem is essential to improving your quality of life.
To increase your self-esteem:
1. Assess your relationships. This includes the relationship you have with yourself first and foremost. Pay attention to how you think and talk to yourself. Consciously challenge how you perceive yourself by replacing negative self-talk with positive statements. This takes constant awareness and practice.
2. Surround yourself with supportive, encouraging people. Let go of, or set healthy boundaries with, anyone in your life who makes you feel less than good about yourself. Healthy relationships can act as a turning point and a protection against the negative effects of low self-esteem.
3. Exercise as often as you can, even if only for a short walk to begin with. Getting outside on a regular basis will not only revive your spirit and soul, but it will improve your mood which has a ripple effect to improving your physical and mental health.
4. Instead of comparing yourself to others, identify your own strengths and what you are good at. Often what we are good at is what we are passionate about. Also, pay more attention to compliments!
5. Celebrate your smallest of victories, it reminds you that you are making progress and gives you motivation to keep working towards your goals. Reflect on how far you have come and what you have already successfully overcome.