If you’re here because you’re currently struggling and want to improve your self esteem, please know you are not alone! I think every person alive has had that battle at least once.
This is something I have struggled with majorly in my life, so while I am not a professional, I want to talk about some things I addressed to improve my self esteem, as well as the things that damaged it.
1. The people around you
The first thing that can have a big impact on your self esteem, is who you surround yourself with. This can relate to friends, family, schoolmates or even coworkers, really anyone you interact with regularly.
The biggest lesson you can learn, is never make yourself small, or water yourself down to suit others. This is something I did for a long time and it was incredibly damaging!
I have had friends who made me feel inadequate or not good enough, and it took me a long time to learn that this wasn’t a reflection of me, I was just around the wrong people. That doesn’t mean they were bad people, just that we were different!
People are naturally social creatures and want to feel like they belong. If you surround yourself with people who don’t have the same energy as you, it can feel like rejection and damage your self esteem.
There are also people who are just plain toxic. Those people who exist to tear others done are a reflection of their shortcomings, not yours.
Whoever you surround yourself with, will start to reflect in yourself. I’ve spoken before about being a social chameleon, As well as handling toxic family members but if you surround yourself with negative people you will internalise that.
Surround yourself with people who bring light to your life, who accept you, love you and build you up! There is so much room for pain and unhappiness in this world that you don’t need to allow it where it can be avoided.
2. Social media
Everyone has at some stage used social media to improve their self esteem, but that’s not always helpful.
I’ve spoken before about how photos online can damage your self confidence, but that isn’t the only way social media can affect your self esteem.
It’s really easy to build up a social media personality that is everything you want to be, but doesn’t necessarily reflect yourself authentically. The issue with that, is that you’re reinforcing within yourself that how you actually are, is not good enough.
It can often become one big competition, when everyone only shares the perfect parts of their lives and you feel inadequate unless you can compare. Be yourself! You are enough as you are.
The other big thing is meme culture, as ridiculous as that sounds. Right now, the trending thing is to share memes that tear yourself down, or glorify mental illness. This is not healthy! Even when it’s just a ‘joke’, when you constantly engage with that content you are reinforcing it internally.
It’s become a cross over of people using it to cope with mental illness, and people who lean into it to be ‘edgy’ or ‘cool’. If you relate to memes that glorify low self worth, mental illness or even suicide, you need to address why.
However as toxic as social media can be, it’s not all bad. Social media can be amazing, as long as you curate the positives. There are amazing groups, pages and feeds that are all about positivity and wellness, which is so much more beneficial for your mental health!
I believe the biggest cause of low self esteem is expectations. This is the combination of pressure from yourself, the people around you, social media or even just society in general.
The general expectation in society is success, which I’ve written about before.
Comparison of success is the greatest threat to self esteem. I have seen people do amazing things, have incredible goals, and I always felt inadequate when I couldn’t reach or didn’t want the same goals.
It’s easy to feel like a failure when you’re not measuring up to what you think you should. Inspirational quotes always tell you you can do whatever you want, shoot for the stars, which don’t get me wrong, is true, but you don’t have to change the world to be important. You don’t have to have particular goals just because you think you should.
No one wants to be just average, but being average is perfectly ok. If everyone was awe-inspiring, no one would be!
It’s ok to lower your expectations. For example a lot of people want to go to uni, get an amazing career and make lots of money. This always made me feel like I was faulty for not wanting the same, but I had to learn that I’m not faulty, just different.
I can both appreciate and respect the hustle of others while also recognising that that’s not for me. Life isn’t an all or nothing thing, you can live it however feels right to you!
By removing arbitrary pressure on yourself, you can start to cultivate who you really are. Respecting yourself and your own goals will improve your self esteem exponentially.
4. Trauma/mental health
Another big destroyer of self esteem issues is trauma, and mental health issues.
As someone who has a history of trauma as well as mental health issues, I found I really internalised a lot of negativity and self hatred. This lead to having rock bottom self esteem that took a lot to begin to fix, and I’m still working on it.
If you’re really struggling with your self esteem or self worth due to trauma or mental health, please speak to a professional! seeking help is not weak. While everything I’ve listed above can amplify self esteem issues, a professional can help you really get to the bottom of it and address it.
A professional can also really help if you find it’s creating increasing negative thoughts. It’s ok to struggle, every person on earth has struggled at some stage. As long as you take steps to get through it and address it.
Even if you have low self esteem now, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to love yourself. To oversimplify it, low self esteem stems from negativity, and that can be fixed! Be picky about what you let in your life and in your head, once you are surrounded by positivity, it will start to reflect internally.
Improving self esteem is a huge journey and it’s hard, but it is worth it. You are worth that journey!