Having low self-esteem can severely affect your confidence and your mental well-being. It can also impact your personal, professional and social life.
When you think of a damaged self-esteem, what do you think of?
Most likely you think of a person who crushed your dreams and sense of self by uttering painful words of discouragement. You think of someone else causing the damage to your sweet, innocent self-esteem. And it’s true.
How to handle mean words from others would be another topic for another day, but today I want to bring to your attention the idea that you can actually damage your own self-esteem.
I don’t want to imply this means you’re doing anything wrong. This is not to beat you up, but exactly the opposite. I want to help you recognize your negative thought patterns so you can make positive changes and feel empowered in who you are.
Here are five ways you may be killing your own self-esteem:
1. Holding on to past mistakes.
Have you ever felt that gut-punch feeling as you suddenly flashback to a mistake you made? Do you constantly dwell on your failures? Whenever you want to move forward, does the reminder of your past paralyze you? Holding on to past mistakes is a sure way to hurt your self-esteem. It’s like continuously picking a scab; it can never fully heal. For more on this topic, check out my post about the lie, “My past has no value for my present and future.”
2. Defining yourself by what you’ve done rather than who you ARE.
This is often linked to #1. It happens when you begin to shift your thinking from “I failed” to “I’m a failure.” There is a huge difference between these two thoughts. One describes a past situation and the other describes the present self. My friend, you are not your mistakes.
3. Expecting perfection.
Expecting is a very different thing from aiming. Someone who expects perfection will be crushed when they inevitably don’t reach it. Someone who aims for perfection sets it as a goal, but knows perfection is impossible and so accepts when they don’t reach it. If you expect the impossible, you will always be disappointed. But if you aim high, with a good dose of “I did my best and that is all that matters,” you will feel satisfied no matter how much or how little you achieved.
4. Letting 1 weakness overshadow 5 strengths.
We tend to focus on the negative, don’t we? It’s in our human nature. We focus on the asymmetrical shape of our nose rather than our clear complexion and gorgeous eyes. We get frustrated over one misspelled word in the midst of thousands of beautifully crafted sentences. We let one “bad painting” define our painting skills rather than the three others that others loved and bought for us. But the flaws are what stand out to us. We need to shift our thinking, not to ignore our weaknesses, but to remember our strengths.
5. Thinking the voices in your head are real people.
No, I’m not talking schizophrenia. I mean when you have thoughts in your head such as “this is going to fail,” “you’re wasting your time,” “you’re not good enough” and you equate it with real people. You begin to believe that people really will think you’re a failure if you put yourself out there. You believe the voices in your head are what everyone is actually saying about you. But it’s not true.
Sure, there may be a handful of people who will think that about you, so what? There will be hundreds that love you, admire your work, and may even be inspired by your courage to do what you do. Even if you help just one person, isn’t it worth it?