Causes of Low Self Esteem: What Makes Your Confidence Drop?

causes of low self esteemLow self esteem isn’t an inherited trait or something that appears overnight. It develops over weeks, months and years of experiences that cause both children and adults to lose confidence. People are molded by their experiences and their relationships with others. Many positive experiences and relationships can raise a person’s confidence and allow them to live a happy, successful life. However, negative experiences and relationships wound many people deeply and causes them to lose hope in themselves and their future. What are the causes of low self esteem, and how can one reverse the negative effects that it has had on their life?

It’s important to note that self esteem, whether high or low, is constantly fluctuating. Having that cute girl accept your proposition for a date can cause your self esteem to skyrocket, while fumbling over your words during an important presentation can cause it to drop. If you’ve been trying and failing to gain your confidence back after a string of negative experiences, Udemy has a course that can help you realize your self worth and get your life back on track.

Childhood Years

Student with low self esteem and bad spellingBeing a child is hard. You were born into this wonderful, terrifying world knowing absolutely nothing about what you were getting yourself into. While everyone grows up differently, chances are you had parents that held a certain level of expectations of you. Maybe they got you involved in piano lessons and wanted you to be the next Beethoven, or maybe they bought you piles and piles of books and wanted you to get off the television and start reading instead. Maybe they simply wanted you to develop your imagination through various forms of art. Regardless of their expectations, you were expected to meet them. For many children, this is incredibly difficult. Imagine yourself as a child again; everything is new and fascinating and all you want to do is frolic around the world and experience its many wonders. Yet, your parents want you to stay inside, practice your alphabet and multiplication table, and eat all your broccoli at dinner.

This puts a lot of stress on a child! Their greatest desire is to play and explore, and they’re being reeled in by real life scenarios like learning things and eating all their vegetables. When a parent’s expectations are higher than a child can meet, their self esteem slowly begins to plummet. If they can’t please their parents, who can they please? In many other situations, children grow up in less-than-ideal home lives. They try and try to please their parents, yet their parents either neglect them or punish them for the smallest mistakes. When children aren’t shown love and affection, they begin to wonder where they went wrong; they often don’t understand that it isn’t their fault. Children who grow up in broken or dysfunctional families tend to carry that burden on their shoulders, which can be tough for young minds to handle.

Teenage Years

shutterstock_160684010Ah, I can’t even explain how happy I am that I am no longer a teenager. Middle school and high school are very rough years! When I was back in middle school, all awkward and gangly, I was always the last person picked for any sport in gym class. Come on, why would someone who spends all her time reading and doodling in her journal be good at sports? While I didn’t like sports and had no desire to be good at them, I couldn’t understand why I was the only person in the class that didn’t have any athletic abilities. Even though I’d rather have my nose in a book than a basketball in my hand, it still hurt when no one wanted me to be on their team. Grade school years are a constant popularity contest, and if you don’t watch out you’re left in the dust pretty fast.

I had braces, bright red hair and was always the shortest one in my class (the short thing never changed). If you’re someone with slightly ‘abnormal’ features or interests – whatever that means these days – changes are you’ve been the victim of bullying of some sort. Maybe your family was of a different demographic, or you grew up in an uncommon religion, or you wanted to read comic books while everyone else wanted to watch sports. Those who aren’t part of the herd tend to be taunted by others, and this can put a damper on anyone’s self esteem. This combined with out-of-control hormones and an ever changing body can push many people over the edge. When people are shut down by others for certain reasons, over a period of time these criticisms become the way that person thinks about themselves.

Need I even mention the media? Society’s version of ‘beautiful’ – being thin, attractive, muscular, well-groomed, etc – weighs heavily on many people who don’t fit these standards. When people can’t seem to mold themselves into these cookie-cutter images, they lose confidence.

Adult Years

causes of low self esteemWhat is more terrifying than leaving the nest, out into a world you thought you knew but realize you know so little about? Even if you made it through your childhood and teenage years without too much damage to your self esteem, there are plenty of things in adult life that can change that. Think about it – now that you’re an adult, you’re expected to get a well-paying job, find a life partner and actually figure out who you are as a person.

While many men certainly have this issue as well, it is extremely common to see women with low self esteem due to rejection in a romantic relationship. All too often a women places her self worth on the outcome of her relationships, and oftentimes this leads to an extreme drop in self confidence if the relationship turns sour. While this is a huge generalization – so bear with me – women place a lot of importance on relationships while men place a lot of importance on career success. This certainly goes back to outdated gender roles, which is a whole different topic in itself, but these truths are still seen in our society today.

Whether you attended college or not, times are tough in our economy. It’s becoming increasingly hard to land a well-paying job, and as a result many people and families are struggling financially. How can you possibly keep a high self esteem when you feel as though you are not qualified enough to support yourself?

Acknowledging Your Own Self Worth

causes of low self esteemIt can be hard to pick up all the pieces once you’ve been broken down time and time again, but it is not impossible. When you get turned down for a new job, or rejected by a crush, or realize you didn’t have as much of a green thumb as you thought you did, don’t let that get you down in the dumps. Low self esteem is a vicious circle. The lower your self esteem, the less you believe in yourself. The less you believe in yourself, the worse you will do in job interviews, social gatherings, etc – which will continue to lower your self esteem. You must break this evil cycle! It is certainly easier said than done, but take some time out of every single day to acknowledge your own self worth. Call up an old friend that always made you feel good about yourself, practice a talent you already have, or make a list of all of your positive attributes. It can be all too easy to focus on the negative and forget about the positive.

If you feel as though your life has no direction, that alone can damage your self esteem. Set a goal for yourself – no matter how small. Starting with a small goal and accomplishing that goal can give you the confidence you need to reach other, larger goals further along in life. When you expect too much from yourself at once, you can easily be let down. Take things one day at a time, one step at a time, and you’ll soon realize that you can accomplish more than you originally thought! Constant criticism and being alienated by your peers can cause you to lose track of your own desires. It’s important to take some alone time to meditate on your life and what you want to get out of it.

Start a journal today. Whenever you feel good about yourself, someone compliments you or you achieve a goal, make note of that in this journal. Don’t write down anything negative!! Keep it with you at all times, and continue with it for at least an entire month. Whenever someone says something negative to you or you’re feeling down, open up this journal and read about all of your positive experiences. The more you remind yourself of the positive aspects of yourself and your life, the less you’ll be dragged down by the seemingly negative.

While this is a difficult path, it’s one that will lead to a better overall life. If you’ve been suffering from low self esteem, join the hundreds of students who have reclaimed their positive outlook on life with Udemy’s course on maintaining a higher self esteem!