Do you look in the mirror and think, I’m fat, I’m too skinny, I’m ugly, my hair is to thin or I’m not good enough? Do you find it hard to trust people or are overly critical of others? Are you an over achiever or an under achiever? That and more is considered having low self-esteem. It is the belief that you are inadequate, unlovable, unworthy and/or incompetent. We all come from unique environments and this is often why we treat others similar to the way we were treated. The things we do for others is what was done for us, or a reaction to what was not done.
The first few years of a child’s life can set the stage and create patterns of low self-esteem and thereafter affects their entire life. At times, when a child is raised by a dysfunctional person, the child is often abused, neglected, abandoned, criticized or is the brunt of anger.
If a parent withholds affection or love, the child might view themselves as unlovable. When a child is abused they think they deserve it and not worthy of love. As indicated during those early years, the truth of who you really are can be distorted and unfortunately, grow up living life with these unhealthy patterns. Once this view of self is formed it can affect many areas in one’s life such as relationships, career, health, choices and dreams to name a few.
So starts the vicious cycle.
Those with low self-esteem feel that they cannot succeed in life. When something discouraging or a setback happens, they take the situation as proof that they will not be successful. Sometimes this can make a person become an overachiever trying desperately to prove themselves, while others remain underachievers achieving less than what they are capable of.
Even overachievers don’t believe in their success, instead they think that they were just lucky and they will not be successful again. These people lack confidence in new situations because they are fearful of what is expected of them and fear relying on their own judgment. They don’t want to appear wrong in the eyes of others, bringing on their disapproval.
What we deem important in a relationship is often indicative of that we saw and experienced with the people who surrounded us during those formative years. Unfortunately, people have very different perspectives on what a relationship should be, or how one should treat the other, how much time they should spend together, or how much they should do for each other.
As a result, there are often many misunderstandings concerning what each person should expect from the other and what is reasonable or unreasonable. Most likely where there are unreasonable expectations, one or both of the people involved have low self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem tend to choose the wrong partners and remain in relationships that are abusive or unsatisfying.
Having been betrayed as a child by the people they should have been able to trust and rely on, makes it difficult to discern who to trust. Unfortunately, they often trust the wrong people, like the ones who are nice to them or show them attention. This in turn can lead to being taken advantage of or manipulated. If they think they are incapable, or undeserving, they think others feel the same way about them.
Low self-esteem can lead to not only irrational behavior, but over-spending, alcohol use, overeating, drug use and perfectionism in an attempt to make themselves feel better. They can have an overly critical attitude, trying to build themselves up by putting others down. They might focus on the negative rather than the positive in both themselves and other.
Many of us deal with low self-esteem for one reason or another. This can occur due to our environment or experiences, these occurrences can make us feel bad about ourselves. It’s time to find a balance in your life and take control.
Low self-esteem may cause someone to overreact or become angry by a simple comment. They can become despondent or devastated over a disagreement or cancellation of plans. In some cases they feel like they are being ignored or mistreated. Their perception is distorted due to the belief that others see them as they see themselves. They can be motivated by fear of doing something wrong and will receive negativity back. Everything is black and white, good or bad, all or nothing, and knowing which is which makes it easier to know what to do. They are unable to trust their own ability to know what’s right so they often look to others for those answers. Some of their decisions are based on what they were told at a young age, and they are closed to a different viewpoint. Basically it is hard for them to develop the ability and freedom to look at issues and consider different methods. They will blindly follow an authority figures without sizing up the situation on their own. This can lead people to blind allegiance giving others control of their lives and most times these people don’t have their best interest at heart.
Some find it difficult to recognize how their behavior affects others. They appear aloof, selfish, even self-absorbed or conceited. Unfortunately, those who are so self-focused don’t get the satisfaction that comes from helping others.
Some people with low self-esteem make up stories about the behavior and intent of others. These stories are always negative so they often feel like people are taking advantage of them, mistreating them or taking them for granted. When in truth that isn’t the case, but they believe their emotional reaction is accurate. However, this cognitive behavior can be corrected once you are made aware that it exist.
They can have unreasonable expectations of their loved ones, friends or family, coworkers, etc. They think that others should know how they feel and what they want and get upset when it is not received. They are setting themselves up with unreasonable expectations, and end up feeling that the other person does not care enough or love them.
Fear and anxiety are the cornerstones of low self-esteem. Many of these people experience attacks (often called panic attacks) brought on by doing something they think is stupid and that others noticed. During these attacks they may withdraw into isolation and not recover for minutes, hours, days, or longer.
Low self-esteem is the underlying cause of depression. They feel that there are things they can’t do, such as being successful, maintaining relationships, or having the courage to try new things. As a result they often feel hopeless about their situation and about the future.
They act in ways that are not in their own best interest. They float through life taking what comes their way. So fearful of failure that they stay in jobs, relationships they dislike, or are unhealthy. They tend to repeat their mistakes and are unaware of their behavior and are unable to do things differently.
Many of us deal with low self-esteem. From the way we were raised, or situations we get ourselves into which made us feel bad about ourselves. It’s time to find a balance in our life and take control. For more information visit my website: http://NspireHealthyLiving.com.
Mavis Kelley, CHHC, AADP is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health and Wellness Life Coach specializing in nutrition, health, well-being, fitness and lifestyle design. For more information or to schedule a holistic health assessment, please contact her at: