It’s natural to experience lulls in self-confidence. Just your run-of-the-mill bad day is bound to damped anyone’s spirits. But there’s a difference between this and persistent, lasting feelings of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is, thankfully, entirely curable. It takes willingness and dedication, like many things worth doing in life, but it is far from impossible. The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you, or someone you know, is exhibiting symptoms of low self-esteem and realizing that this can adversely affect health and performance, both professionally and personally.
Following are some of the most common symptoms of low self-esteem. If something sounds familiar, it might not be a bad idea to look into help, such as this class that teaches you how to reclaim your positive self-image.
Indecision And Lack Of Trust
Indecision is extremely common in people who lack self-esteem, and this is one symptom that is fairly logical. If you don’t have confidence, you won’t be able to make decisions with conviction. You will teeter on the edge of even the simplest decisions, such as whether to have broccoli or asparagus for dinner. But this has far more serious affects, as well. Not being able to trust people, especially those you have trusted in the past, is a likely symptom of low self-esteem. This makes it easy to be taken advantage of, to be manipulated, to be controlled by people who are simply nice to them. In the end, of course, this only compounds the effects of low self-esteem.
Denying Success And Praise
People with low self-esteem are often quick to belittle compliments and transfer praise elsewhere. This is incredibly ironic because another symptom is being a perfectionist; even while lacking the confidence to believe they can succeed, those suffering from low self-esteem strive desperately for perfection. When it is achieved, they refuse to accept it. They find flaws where they don’t really exist. In other words, they deny themselves satisfaction in their work.
When perfection is not achieved, this is used as an excuse to berate themselves, to blame the failure on their inadequacy and to use the failure as proof to those trying to help them that they are truly worthless and incapable of anything better. This, of course, is a complete fallacy.
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There is little to say here other than the obvious: eating disorders are a sure sign of low self-esteem. If you need definitive evidence, please read this article by Kathie Hanlon of Vanderbilt University. Speaking of the supposed relationship between eating disorders and low self-esteem, she writes, “. . . this fact has been empirically proven time and time again.” To say that eating disorders are serious is an understatement. Get help today, for yourself or your child, with this data-driven course on recovering from eating disorders.
There are several reasons why poor relationships, especially of the romantic variety, are indicative of low self-esteem. For starters, people lacking confidence tend to be defensive, to respond terribly to criticism, to feel unloved and to be sensitive beyond reason. All of these things naturally contribute to unhealthy relationships. They also contribute to people staying in unhealthy relationships. And again, when things go wrong, this is almost a savored excuse to prove their lack or worth. Hurt feelings will linger for weeks. Blame will be applied. Communication will stop. And when one relationship ends, those with low self-esteem are more likely to choose yet another ill-suited partner, or ill-suited career, or any other one-sided relationship.
No Interest In Appearance
When physical appearance is neglected, this is a sign that low self-esteem has settled in. Dressing extravagantly or spending hours getting ready can also be a sign of low self-esteem (of the over-compensating type), but complete disregard for appearance is a more predictable indicator of confidence issues. Everyone has their own style when it comes to how you dress, wear your hair, tattoos, etc., so there is no one “right” way to go about it. It’s pursuing a style and identify and feeling like yourself that’s important.
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It’s good to stretch the limits every now and then, but having no boundaries whatsoever is not only symptomatic of low self-esteem, it’s extremely dangerous. If you become obsessed with work and try to take on too much, if you drink until you can’t remember, if you drive like there are no rules, if you treat people as if there won’t be consequences, you are doing possibly irreparable damage to yourself and your most important relationships. Testing the waters is one thing, acting borderline suicidal necessitates immediate action.
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Storytelling And Exaggeration
This can take place verbally or internally in the form of thoughts. In the case of storytelling, people with low self-esteem begin to make up stories in their minds about things they do, about theoretical situations, and, most concerning, about how other people feel about them and what other people are secretly thinking. This often spirals out of control with no evidence whatsoever to support their theories.
Exaggeration is another sign of low self-esteem. When conversing or telling stories, whether about themselves or something entirely separate, people will exaggerate facts in an attempt to make themselves or the story more interesting, having little faith that their reality is interesting enough by itself. This is known properly as “cognitive distortion,” and apparently worsens the state of low self-esteem.
Blueprint For Success
Recognizing you have low self-esteem is an incredibly brave thing to do. Getting help is even braver. There are several easy and confidential ways to do this. The first is professional help. The Counseling Directory allow you to search for qualified counselors and to decide if you’re ready to speak face-to-face, on the phone or even just online. Another option is to take an online class, such as this complete blueprint to double your self-esteem and confidence.