We’ve all experienced insecurities at some point in our lives, whether it be our physical appearance, the size of our success, financial status, intelligence, sense of humor, and so on. Yet, if that becomes an obstacle that interferes with your daily responsibilities or causes you significant distress, it should be treated as a sign of a deeper, underlying issue linked to low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
When left unchecked, such feelings of inferiority or inadequacy can negatively impact your mental health, resulting in developing self-defeating patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, which can lead to relationship issues, social isolation, loneliness, perfectionistic tendencies, chronic stress, social anxiety, or depression.
If you feel like your insecurities have been preventing you from living a fulfilling life, keep reading. In this blog post, we discuss the causes and effects of low self-esteem and share practical tips and techniques to build confidence.
The Causes of Low Self-Esteem
If you continuously feel insecure, it probably has a deeply-rooted cause that affects your sense of self-worth, such as:
Past trauma or difficult childhood
- Childhood abuse can take different forms, including physical, sexual, phycological, and emotional mistreatment. Just because your parents put food on the table, it doesn’t mean you weren’t neglected or mistreated.
- Children and victims of traumatic experiences, to make sense of their reality, internalize negative messages or blame themselves, developing a critical sense of self, which, later on, can take on the form of negative self-talk or feeling of being undeserving of love / never good enough.
- Example: Being repeatedly ignored, ridiculed, or told that you’re worthless or a disappointment.
Living in a toxic environment
- Growing up in a dysfunctional family or being brought up by emotionally immature parents heightens the risk of struggling with low self-esteem in adulthood.
- Being in a toxic relationship or a hostile workplace where you’re manipulated, belittled, bullied, or gaslighted negatively impacts one’s sense of worth.
Your current self-defeating tendencies
- While your past experiences influence your confidence, it’s incorrect to assume that these adverse events explain your issue entirely.
- Low self-esteem stems mainly from your current attitude and beliefs you hold regarding these events, i.e.:
- Viewing yourself as a victim leads to learned helplessness,
- Perfectionism and imposter syndrome have their roots in internalizing the criticism of your parent.
5 Tips on How to Cope with Low Self-Esteem and Build Confidence
1. Address Negative Self-Talk
The most crucial part of building confidence is dealing with your inner critic and adopting more compassionate and constructive self-talk. To achieve that:
- Identify your triggers:
- Whenever your insecurities flare up, pay attention to the topics, people, places, or events that might have caused them.
- Refuse to believe everything you think or feel about your insecurities:
- They’re not facts, so stop treating them like reality, simply mental chatter that’ll pass.
- Become skeptical:
- Like a scientist, observe yourself with curiosity and notice any cognitive errors in your thinking, such as negativity bias, catastrophizing, or jumping to conclusions.
Once your inner critic is kept in check, try treating yourself like you would treat your friend. Cultivate a compassionate, supportive internal dialogue filled with gentleness and kindness.
Rather than being a bully, set an intention to become the biggest fan of yourself.
2. Manage Your Expectations
Perfectionism and unrelenting standards are the perfect breeding ground for further insecurities, disappointments, frustrations, and self-judgmental tendencies.
Rather than feeding into the illusion of becoming perfect, which is impossible, take a look at the expectations you have regarding yourself and assess how realistic they actually are.
Having still challenging yet attainable goals in life helps avoid a lot of painful emotional experiences, making you feel more confident along the way.
3. Focus on the Process
Sometimes, what dampens our confidence is our fixation on a particular goal:
Let’s say you want to get fit and lose some weight. Being too goal-oriented will only make you feel like you’re not there yet, no matter how often you work out or how clean your diet is. Rather than appreciating your progress, you’re left feeling worthless or discouraged.
On the other hand, being process-oriented helps you:
- boost motivation and a sense of self-efficacy,
- notice your growth,
- enjoy the path,
- pay more attention to the present moment,
- feel grateful for the small routines and habits that enrich your daily life.
4. Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is the antidote to self-loathing, often present when struggling with low self-esteem. It’s the art of embracing yourself just as you are and giving yourself unconditional love and radical acceptance. It includes these 3 pillars:
- Rather than judging yourself for the pain you feel, stop fighting it.
- Acknowledge and embrace it with warmth and understanding.
- Whenever you feel misunderstood or totally alone in your struggle, remember that suffering is an intrinsic part of human existence.
- We all go through difficulties in our lives.
- Low self-esteem narrows your focus, making you ruminate on your flaws and failures.
- Try broadening your attention to include a clearer, more objective perspective.
5. Consider Therapy
If you feel like your issues with low self-esteem and lack of confidence have a deeply-rooted cause, such as a repressed traumatic event or harmful core beliefs, please don’t wait for it to get better on its own.
Get professional help and start the therapeutic process, which can benefit you through:
- having a safe space to discuss your painful or uncomfortable experiences,
- learning practical tools to deal with unhelpful beliefs or to regulate your emotions,
- receiving guidance from an experienced professional,
- creating an opportunity for a better, healthier life.
Contact us here to see if our services fit your unique needs.