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7 ways to start loving yourself and increase self-esteem

05.06.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I’ve been suffering from low self-esteem since childhood. All my life it seemed to me that I’m worse than others in everything, that I’m not as beautiful, smart and talented as people around me. I do not have any significant achievements, I permanently fail at everything and I even cry in the pillow at night because I am such a loser. I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have close friends either – it constantly seems to me that I am disturbing everyone, annoying them, that I’m not interesting, and that my family just tolerates me out of politeness. Although they say that everything is fine with me and I have nothing to worry about, I’m afraid that I’ll stay that way for the rest of my life, not being able to achieve anything, not being needed by anyone. Now I am graduating from a university and I can’t even finish my diploma – I constantly imagine failing the defense and all my work being in vain. I really want to finally learn how to increase self-esteem, learn to love myself and develop self-confidence. And most importantly, I don’t even understand where it came from – I was loved very much by my family, parents were always proud of my small victories and never humiliated me. Only they are in the past. Right now I feel like I’m nothing”.

— Victoria, 23

People with adequate self-esteem are always visible: they look confident, reach new heights in their careers relatively easily, they have good relations with others and happy family life. Of course, they sometimes make mistakes, they may be in a bad mood, get tired and annoyed. But they are not afraid to admit their mistakes, to apologize if they accidentally offended others, to laugh at themselves. They do not torment themselves for an accidental misconduct. These people are living in harmony with themselves.

Unfortunately, not all of us can boast normal self-esteem. And people ask just the question how to raise self-esteem more and more often. There are various reasons for this. It is important to understand that underestimating oneself is harmful, because this inevitably leads to feelings of loneliness, bad habits, low living standards and sometimes even depression. A person with low self-esteem cannot fully develop as a person and self-actualize – his/her focus is shifted to other needs, such as the search for respect and recognition.

That is why it is so important to work on increasing self-esteem and self-confidence. In this article, we will talk about ways to increase the sense of your own value. And at the same time, we will figure out how a person’s self-esteem is formed, what are the consequences of low self-esteem, and help find out if you have problems with this part of personality.

Content:

  1. Briefly about self-esteem
  2. How self-esteem forms
  3. Reasons for low self-esteem
  4. Relationship between self-esteem and confident behavior
  5. How does low self-esteem affect people’s lives?
  6. Self-assessment test: do you need help?
  7. How to increase self-esteem and self-confidence: 7 easy ways

Briefly about self-esteem

 about self-esteem

Self-esteem is a person’s idea of themselves, their own value, achievements and character traits. This is one of the most important characteristics of the inner world of a person – a lot depends on it. First of all – the image of one’s own “self”, self-perception of a person.

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Psychologists distinguish two main types of self-esteem: adequate and inadequate. Inadequate can be divided into overstated and lowered self-esteem. Let’s take a closer look at the signs of different types of self-assessment. [1]

Typeand subtype of self-esteemPersonality’s specific features
AdequateConfident in themselves and their decisions and, at the same time, does not look overly self-confident;correctly evaluates their abilities and correlates them with desires;sets realistic goals;can look at themselves from the outside and make critical judgments;foresees the results of their actions, bears responsibility for them;adequately evaluates the opinions of other people about themselves or their actions, does not put them above their own;can evaluate their own good and bad qualities both, and the results will always correspond to real characteristics
Inadequate (inflated)Overstimates their own significance;overestimates their capabilities and abilities;sets unrealistic goals the implementation of which often demand more resources than they have;negatively perceives criticism, gets angry and annoyed;does not accept the opinions of others;denies their weaknesses;arrogant, unpleasant in communication and behavior;ignores the needs of others;exhibits a demonstrative type of behavior;tends to blame others for their failures;rejects the help of others;often does not know how to build close relationships;has a complex of superiority, considers themselves right in everything, often gives unsolicited advice;inclined to lead and dominate
Inadequate (low)Usually invisible in the team, seems very modest;indecisive, careful;unsure of themselves and their decisions;depends on the opinions of others, needs constant support;seeks to get rid of responsibility, including for their own actions;has an inferiority complex;touchy, vulnerable, gets along hard with others;often suffers from perfectionism, is demanding of themselves and others;envious – it seems to them that everyone around is much better at everything than them;may commit inappropriate actions in order to increase their significance in the eyes of others;focuses on their own failures, tends to feel sorry for themselves and behave selfishly

It is obvious that people can show different levels of high and low self-esteem. For an average person, self-esteem varies a little – from slightly higher to slightly lower, depending on the specific situation. If these fluctuations do not interfere with normal life and do not affect other people, there is no need to fight them.

How self-esteem forms

Psychologists distinguish two components in the structure of self-esteem:

  1. The cognitive component. It includes a person’s knowledge of themselves: abilities, skills, strengths and weaknesses. It is formed in the process of self-analysis. Often, inadequate self-esteem emerges because person’s ideas about their self are unformed or they do not correspond to reality.
  2. The emotional component. This is a person’s attitude towards themselves and the manifestations of their own “self”. This component is unstable, changes throughout life – we can experience several conflicting feelings towards ourselves in a short period of time. [1]

These components are inextricably linked and form a basic sense of self-value. They depend on various factors: relationships with parents, relationships with other people, temperament, character traits, environment and many others.

Now let’s talk about the reasons that lead to the formation of low self-esteem.

Reasons for low self-esteem

Reasons for low self-esteem

Like almost any personality traits, self-esteem is formed in childhood. And the main role in this is played, of course, by the parents. In many respects their attitude towards the child decides whether he will be confident in himself all his life.

The high importance of relations with parents is confirmed by the story of the Norwegian psychologist Ejestad Güru, which she tells in her book “Self-esteem in children and adolescents. Book for parents”:

“I remember how my mother’s response made a big impression on me when I asked her for how much she would sell me, when I was five. Mom said: “I would not sell you even for all the money in the world!” I wasn’t satisfied: “But what if you were given all the money, all the gold, diamonds and jewelry of the world, then would you agree to sell me?” “No”, my mother replied, “I would not have sold you for anything, even if I could have received everything in return”. You are absolutely irreplaceable for me, my friend”. That kind of thing is unforgettable. To be more valuable than all the jewels in the world, to be completely irreplaceable. This is how it should be: children are irreplaceable, they have incomparable value for us simply because they exist, and they need to know this”.

Therefore, when analyzing the reasons why you suffer from low self-esteem, you should first consider your relationship with your parents. Most likely, the root of the problem lies there.

Here are some patterns of parental behavior that can lead to low self-esteem of the child: [2]

  • low self-esteem in parents: the child follows their example as the only true one and assimilates this behavior;
  • assessment of the child’s personality, not their actions: not “You did something bad”, but “You are a bad boy”;
  • denial of the individuality of the child, the belief that parents know better what the child needs (for example, in choosing a hobby or clothing);
  • comparing the child with the “son of his/her mother’s girlfriend”, with his/her own brothers and sisters or with parents when they were the same age – all in favor of the latter, of course;
  • hypercontrol, hypercare, authoritarian parenting style, frequent punishments;
  • complete lack of control and interest in the life of the child, avoiding communication with them;
  • emphasis on the child’s mistakes and shortcomings, but not on victories and virtues: for example, when good school marks are ignored and a rare bad mark is followed by strict punishment and lengthy notations;
  • instilling in the child a cult of success: when health, happiness and good relations with loved ones are sacrificed for the sake of educational or sporting achievements, and also when the child is evaluated solely through these achievements, and not as a person;
  • parental attempts to fulfill their own dreams or correct mistakes at the expense of the child: for example, if the mother dropped out of music school as a child, she will do everything so that her child graduated with honors – even if the price of this meant constant stress for all family members;
  • manipulating the child, making them feel guilty of family problems, increased responsibility, which does not correspond to age and status;
  • generally underestimating the capabilities and abilities of their children: for example, the teacher wants to send the child to the competition, and parents object, because, in their opinion, the child will not do well.

It is also important to note that low self-esteem can be formed in those whose parents were very caring and highly valued their child. As we grow up, we inevitably encounter a mismatch between too high assessment by parents and our real capabilities – this causes a decrease in self-confidence.

A lack of self-confidence may emerge due to appearance: being too short or, on the contrary, too tall, or overweight, or having bad health. However, if parents do not focus on this feature and do not inspire any additional inferiority in the child, it is unlikely to become an obstacle in adulthood.

Of course, other people from the childhood environment also influence the formation of self-confidence: teachers, classmates, friends. It’s especially evident in adolescence, when the opinion of friends is of particular importance.

So, children who were bullied at school will almost certainly have low self-esteem. But parents can also influence these factors: take the child to another school, support them at home, enlist the support of teachers and take measures to eradicate bullying.

Starting from adolescence, the child begins to evaluate themselves on their own. Moreover, they are largely guided by external assessments.

But an adult is already capable to ignore other opinions if they want and maintain self-esteem on they own.

Relationship between self-esteem and confident behavior

Relationship between self-esteem and confident behavior

Adequate self-esteem and self-confidence go hand in hand, one depends on the other.

Self-confidence is often associated with the belief that you can achieve success in some kind of activity. Self-esteem is more often associated with the unconditional acceptance of one’s personality, awareness of one’s place in life and significance in society.

Sometimes a person can successfully perform their work, be confident in their professionalism, believe in their abilities, but their self-esteem will be zero. That’s because such a person would only evaluate themselves through the prism of their achievements and be sure that without them, they mean nothing, have no value.

At the same time, an adequate high self-esteem would certainly entail confidence in business and success. A person with high self-esteem simply cannot give up because of a mistake or failure – such a scenario does not fit into their idea of themselves, and they will try to achieve success again by any and all means possible.

That is why it is so important to develop a sense of self-worth without attaching it to one of the areas in life. Nothing can shake a strong self-esteem: even if you have to start life from scratch, you will pass this test and you will know that everything will go well. After all, you already have the most important thing – yourself.

How does low self-esteem affects people’s lives?

low self-esteem affects people’s lives

“I have very low self-confidence and because of this I constantly feel miserable. I keep thinking that there is someone better than me all the time, someone smarter, stronger, more successful, more funny… I can no longer communicate normally with people: it is as if I am looking for competitors in them, and envy overcomes me. In the rare moments when I feel good, I unconsciously start recalling past failures and mistakes and torment myself with them. I can’t spend money on myself – it feels like I am not worthy of good things and even some minimal pleasures. And do I have to mention that I had little success trying to make a relationship work? After all, who wants to date such a timid and unconfident guy? When I think about my life, I know that everything is actually fine with it: I have a good education, a favorite job, I have great friends, my family supports me. In general, everything is going well, but my brain seems to refuse to realize this, it is constantly looking for some failures. And the most annoying thing is that I am already over 30, and my peers have clearly achieved more than me. It seems that the best time has been lost and neither my career nor my personal life has a future. How to become confident, how to increase self-esteem? This is a mystery to me”.

– Anton, 31

Obviously, self-esteem affects literally all areas of our lives: how we work and relax, with whom and how we build relationships, how we look, how we feel, what place we occupy in society, what is important for us… The list is endless. We can figuratively say: everything that happens to us in life is a reflection of our internal state. Therefore, low self-confidence can easily ruin the life of any person. The question of how to increase self-esteem is relevant both for young girls and for adult women, and for men as well.

It can be seen even from childhood – children who are not self-confident have worse grades than their peers with normal self-esteem. They are shy about answering in class, they are afraid to take on more difficult tasks and they don’t even dream about competitions and olympiads. The same can be said about creativity and sports: a child often refuses to attend any classes, because they are afraid in advance that they won’t succeed.

Growing up only adds to the problem. Teenagers can experience trouble building a relationship with friends and the opposite gender, when communication in this period is the main part of life for them. It results in problems with socialization that are much more difficult to solve in adulthood.

Children and adolescents who do not receive sufficient confirmation of their own value from their parents can look for it in bad companies, and this can lead to exposure to smoking, alcohol and other manifestations of deviant behavior.

An adult with low self-confidence cannot reach significant heights in career, because they are sure that they can’t do it, and they never volunteer to take on additional, more complex responsibilities. Their standard of living remains low simply because they decided that they’re not worthy of anything good.

Low self-esteem in women almost always means the inability to build a strong family. Due to uncertainty in her own worth, a woman can unknowingly choose men who won’t appreciate her either. And breaking that kind of relationship can be very difficult, because the woman is sure that she will never meet anyone better. That’s why it is so important for a woman to know how to start loving herself again and increase self-esteem. Low self-esteem in men though also does not lead to success in their personal lives.

In a family where parents are not self-confident, children adopt the same model of behavior – and this is also a serious consequence of low self-esteem. Like a chain reaction.

Finally, a person with low self-esteem often simply does not belong to themselves: they are used by others for own purposes, they cannot defend their rights and opinion and are forced to live someone else’s life, because they lack self-confidence to protect personal boundaries. They don’t allow themselves to fulfill their own dreams, to feel joy, to satisfy their needs – because they feel like they don’t deserve it. Unfortunately, the life of such a person cannot be called happy.

All this can lead not only to a poor quality of life, but also to serious mental disorders, in particular, depression, a tendency to self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. And that’s where the help of a psychiatrist and full treatment are required.

Self-assessment test: do you need help?

Note! The results of one test are not enough for an accurate diagnosis. But this test may help you understand whether it is worth paying attention to this problem.

So, we propose for you to take the test according to the method of the American psychologist Morris Rosenberg. Read the following 10 statements:

  1. I feel that I am a worthy person, at least no less than others.
  2. I always tend to feel like a failure.
  3. I think I have a number of good qualities.
  4. I am capable of doing something no worse than most.
  5. It seems to me that I have nothing to be proud of.
  6. I take a positive attitude toward myself.
  7. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
  8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.
  9. I certainly feel useless at times.
  10. At times I think I am no good at all.

For each answer, add points to yourself. Respond to questions 1, 3, 4, and 6 on this scale:

4 – strongly agree;

3 – agree;

2 – do not agree;

1 – strongly disagree.

For the rest (inverse) questions, points are awarded on the contrary:

4 – strongly disagree;

3 – do not agree;

2 – agree;

1 – strongly agree.

Now calculate the amount of points.

If you have 23 to 40 points, everything is in order with your self-esteem: you respect yourself, adequately assess your strengths and weaknesses, do not deny your abilities, you have a well-developed sense of self-worth.

If the number of points is less than 22, you should work with your self-confidence: find the origins of low self-esteem and find a way to increase it.

How to increase self-esteem and self-confidence: 7 easy ways

How to increase self-esteem

Nowadays psychologists offer a lot of methods to increase self-confidence. There are even special self-esteem courses. But there are many ways to increase self-esteem on your own, “at home”. These exercises really work if you apply them regularly, do not despair and do not give up due to setbacks, but rather, use them in combination. We’re sharing some of them.

1. Always remember your strengths

Find an hour to spend alone with yourself and make the list of your strengths. Perhaps right now it may seem to you that you have none, but if you analyze your life and set aside false modesty, you will certainly find at least a dozen. You definitely know how to do something better than others – even if it’s just washing dishes. You probably showed your best character traits in difficult situations – kindness, stamina, tact and so on. Remember what your relatives, friends, colleagues, even just passers-by spoke about you. You can even specifically ask loved ones to give you compliments. Write down everything good that you know about yourself, and hang this list in a prominent place – let it support you in moments of weakness. [3]

2. Keep an achievement diary

Even if it seems to you that you are unworthy of this, make yourself a gift – buy the most beautiful notebook and the most convenient pen. From this day on write down all your achievements every evening – from most notable to the smallest ones, which only you known about. Got up from the first ring of the alarm clock? Walked with the dog despite the fatigue? Overcame shyness and made an important call? Completed a work task? Everything is good! Re-read your notes once a week – and after a month you will feel your self-esteem growing. You are capable of a lot, remember this!

3. Set small goals for yourself– and then achieve them

If there are not enough achievements in life, organize them for yourself. Come up with a small challenge: for example, drinking a glass of water for a month in the morning. Let it be something not very complicated, not time consuming and not requiring a revision of your usual schedule. Get yourself a tracker and mark every day when you completed the task in it. This will increase self-confidence, make you proud of yourself, and at the same time you will acquire a new useful habit. Well, or get rid of the harmful one. That way you can change your whole life.

4. Watch your health

Do not forget to take care of yourself: sleep enough, eat regularly, play sports, relax every day. All this reinforces respect for your own body and, ultimately, love for yourself. And you will certainly become less tired, more punctual, and find it easier to cope with stress. And all of this will help increase self-confidence. [3]

5. Stop blaming yourself for mistakes

You may think that it only sounds simple, but in reality it is completely unattainable. However, this is basically the same bad habit, as, for example, procrastination or drinking coffee three times a day. Think about it: if your close friend made a mistake, you would hardly start scolding them with the same words as you scold yourself. Now remember that your closest person is you. And you definitely deserve support and patience, at least from yourself. Finally, remember the hackneyed saying that each of us has the right to make a mistake and that only who does nothing is not mistaken. Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s normal. Forgive yourself for them, feel a bit of sympathy for yourself and move on.

6. Use body language

Remember how confident some people look, for example, heads of large companies: direct posture, relaxed shoulders, direct look, calm smile, firm handshake. You have probably heard that if you artificially portray a smile for a couple of minutes, the mood will really improve and the smile will become natural. This is how our brain works – the body and internal state are closely connected. Therefore, if you cannot start from the inside, start from the outside. Rehearse a confident pose in front of the mirror, use it for a few minutes – and your mood will also change. Imagine that you have already become that very self-confident person whom you dream of becoming, and behave accordingly. [3]

7. 7Spsy behavior modification technique

If you have already tried all the tips on how to increase self-esteem and self-confidence, but nothing helped, most likely, the habit of low self-esteem has become a model of behavior learned from childhood. In this case, you need to work directly with the origin: find negative attitudes in the subconscious that led to the formation of low self-esteem, and replace them with more positive ones.

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7Spsy behavior modification technique is aimed at this. It is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of famous psychologists I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky. It allows you to understand why you are using a destructive model of behavior, and replace it with a new, healthy one.

Course based on 7Spsy behavior modification technique is carried out remotely and begins with the diagnosis of the problem. The course takes only 2-6 weeks: this is usually enough to develop self-confidence. Throughout the course, a professional psychologist will support you and be in contact via online chat, e-mail or phone.

The result of the 7Spsy method will manifest as increase in self-confidence, gaining a sense of self-worth and self-love. And that means a completely new life, in which there will finally be a place for your beloved activity, career heights, healthy relationships with others and all those joys that you previously denied for yourself.

References:

  1. M. V. Golubeva, «Samootsenka — chto eto takoe: poniatie, struktura, vidy i urovni. Korrektsiia samootsenki» (https://psychologist.tips/1740-samootsenka-chto-eto-takoe-ponyatie-struktura-vidy-i-urovni-korrektsiya-samootsenki.html).
  2. Nizkaia samootsenka (https://psihomed.com/nizkaya-samootsenka/).
  3. Elis Miuir, «Uverennost v sebe. Kniga dlia raboty nad soboi».