Lack of self-esteem: what is it and how to improve it?
Let's see what are the characteristics of lack of self-esteem and what can be done to improve it.
Lack of self-esteem is not a psychological disorder, but the truth is that it is one of the emotional problems with the greatest capacity to negatively affect people's quality of life.
This is, in part, because many people believe that it is natural not to value oneself, that it is part of their personality, so nothing is done to change this situation. But nothing could be further from the truth: much can be done to improve self-esteem levels.. Let's see it.
What is lack of self-esteem?
Said by way of summary, the self-esteem is the set of beliefs and ideas that we have internalized in our minds about how we should value ourselves.. Thus it is not simply a set of theoretical knowledge about the self, but incorporates an emotional charge linked to whether we feel good or bad about who we are. That is, self-esteem is not limited to describing us, but also tells us about how we tend towards the good or the bad and towards what is desirable or what we reject, it has a moral component).
Of course, it is normal for us to value ourselves in at least slightly different ways depending on the area of life on which we focus our attention: we may be satisfied with who we are in the world of studies and university but dislike ourselves in the area of love relationships, for example, or vice versa. In any case, each facet of our daily life affects to a greater or lesser extent how we value ourselves in others.
Lack of self-esteem arises when there is an imbalance an imbalance between our potential and our tendency to value ourselves, with the latter being too low.. In fact, it is one of the most frequent psychological alterations (not disorder), but precisely because of its nature, if we manage to overcome it, it gives rise to very satisfactory experiences of self-discovery.
Signs that indicate a self-esteem problem
Low self-esteem usually manifests itself in a series of unmistakable signs that allow us to detect negative patterns of self-perception or self-worth.
Identifying these signs in other people or in ourselves is the first step in solving any self-esteem problem. Let's see what they are.
The lack of self-confidence of people with self-esteem problems is evident on a daily basis both at work and in the personal and social spheres. is evident on a daily basis in the work environment as well as in the personal and social spheres..
This is due to a feeling of incompetence in almost any activity they carry out, which also causes them feelings of indecision, the constant belief that they will fail in something important, a feeling of inferiority to others, etc.
2. Tendency to always compare oneself with others.
An unhealthy obsession with one's own defects also leads to a tendency to continually compare oneself with others, which with other people, which generates even more complexes and feelings of inferiority.
On the contrary, people with healthy levels of self-esteem do not need to compare themselves so much with the people around them, since they feel good about themselves.
3. Praise is uncomfortable
Discomfort in the face of praise is another sign that can often indicate a case of low self-esteem. This phenomenon is associated with what is known as the impostor syndromeThe person with low self-esteem believes that he or she does not deserve this kind of respect and fears that others will unmask him or her as someone who does not deserve such treatment.
In contrast, people with good self-esteem are able to recognize both their achievements and failures in a healthy way.
4. Poor assertiveness
Assertiveness is the ability to defend and assert one's own rights while respecting the interests and feelings of others.
Far from presenting this capacity, people with a lack of self-esteem tend to accept proposals, requests or commands that go against their own interests and are almost incapable of refusing them. and are almost incapable of refusing these conditions, regardless of whether their socioeconomic situation predisposes them to do so or not.
5. Minimizing one's own merits
Attributing one's own merits to luck or to causes unrelated to oneself is another of the most common characteristics of people with a lack of self-esteem.
As in the case of praise, one's own achievements are often relativized and stripped of real importance.
How to improve self-esteem levels?
By far the most effective solution for improving self-esteem is to see a psychologist.Through a psychological intervention program, professionals in this field help people learn to value themselves as they should, in a balanced way and being sensitive to their potential and their own progress.
However, beyond the consultation, there are strategies to improve self-esteem that often help and are simple enough for anyone to apply them to their daily lives. These are some of them.
1. Detect the type of thoughts that lead you to undervalue yourself.
Instead of limiting yourself to feeling those ideas that assault your mind and lead you to look at yourself with bad eyes, analyze them as objectively as possible, as if they were phenomena as common and natural as the life forms you see around you.
To do this well it is best to focus your attention not on each of them separately, but to detect patterns and aspects they have in common.. For example, the type of situations that trigger them, the images they attract to your mind (whether they are imagined or based at least in part on memories), etc.
Of course, you shouldn't obsess over this or do it constantly at every moment of the day; just carry a small notepad with you and write down little notes about what's on your mind at the times when you feel your lack of self-esteem is affecting you the most during the week.
2. Start a project
Setting goals for yourself will be a good way to channel those desires to show what you are capable of.Your self-esteem will hardly increase if you don't give yourself objective and real reasons to see yourself differently.
To achieve this, you can take several days to think of a project that you would like to carry out and that is meaningful to you, and then, break it down into a chain of short-term sub-goals (so that these goals that you can achieve in a matter of hours pull you and motivate you into action). In fact, your first goal can be to choose the general idea of that first project, and do it before a deadline (try to make it a maximum of a couple of weeks).
Of course, try to find a balance between what is a minimal challenge and what is unrealistic because of its difficulty; the former will not motivate you much and will have little influence on your self-esteem, and the latter will frustrate you and make it easier for you to stop trying to improve your self-esteem. The difficulty curve of this chain of goals must be ascending, but it must always be between what you know for sure you can do and what you think is impossible for you to achieve.
3. Surround yourself more with people who appreciate your achievements.
The social context to which we expose ourselves has a significant influence on the way in which our self-esteem takes shape.. If you only interact with people who, due to previous dynamics, undervalued you, it is easy that when you interact frequently with them the problem of lack of self-esteem is still there.
4. Dedicate at least one session a week to review your achievements.
By adopting this habit you will have a constant and daily adapted notion of the improvements you have achieved in a short period of time. in a short period of time.
5. Take care of yourself
Take care of your health and your image, starting by incorporating activities into your schedule that will make you healthier: eat what you should, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, etc. This will not only make it easier for you to meet challenges (because if you are fit you will be less exposed to burnout and stress) but it will also make you perceive yourself in a more favorable light.
6. Question your ideals
Now that you've started to analyze the kind of thoughts that lead you to feel bad, ask yourself if you've been comparing yourself to others, ask yourself if you have been comparing yourself to ideals of people that don't exist beyond our imagination or the or the audio-visual and marketing world and that, consequently, can only lead you to feel bad about who you are. Sometimes, the most blunders were right in front of our eyes, and precisely because they were so familiar to us, we didn't recognize them as such.
Interested in professional psychological support?
If you are considering improving your self-esteem or any other aspect of your emotional management, I invite you to contact me.
My name is Tomás Santa Cecilia and I am a psychologist specialized in the cognitive-behavioral intervention model, with which it is possible to produce changes for the better both in the ways of processing emotions and the interpretation of reality, as well as in behavioral patterns and habits. I help individuals and professionals in person in Madrid and through online sessions by video call.
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