Low self-esteem can impact our everyday of life. When one struggles with low self-esteem, it can affect your ongoing relationships and work life. There can be the tendency to over compensate to gain validation from others. This can cause people-pleasing behaviors, that result in you losing sight of your own needs and desires. The question now becomes, what can you do to move forward? You can be at risk for:
- Body image issues
- Ruminating on negative thoughts
- Feeling not good enough, unlovable, and/or worthless
- Oversensitivity to criticism
- Undermining success
- Physical manifestations
Certain types of attitudes can hurt your self-esteem. Imagine thinking “I must always be successful to be worthwhile.” This statement bases your self-esteem on your success. Essentially, you will earn your self-esteem through your achievements. There are several disadvantages to this attitude. One is that you’ll be on a constant treadmill, trying to earn your self-esteem. You’ll never feel totally worthwhile inside, because success can be fleeting. Even entertainers have non-productive years. Are they less worthwhile during their slow period? Increased levels of anxiety and avoidance may interfere with ones’ creativity due to a fear of failure. The experience of failure may illicit dysphoria because you feel worthless or unlovable. Perhaps, even with success, you feel inferior to others that are more intelligent and successful. These feelings may prevent you from pursuing what you really want, because you are trying to be successful, to meet everybody’s approval. As a result, you feel less happy and less successful then if you pursued your own goals. An example of good self-esteem would be an attitude that believes “It’s important to me to be productive and to do my best. I can enjoy my successes, but I am not better than anyone else.” “If I fail, I am not less lovable or less worthwhile – I can learn from it.” Why should your degree of success dominate your sense of self-esteem.
In therapy, you can discover where the self-negativity originates from and move forward by developing self-compassion and self-empathy that leads to greater positive self-esteem.
Self-esteem ought to be unconditional, as something that doesn’t have to be earned. David D. Burns, M.D.