Updated: Sep 24, 2021
Last week I talked about setting personal boundaries, and I gave you an overview of the kind of things people, think, feel and do that prevent them from creating and maintaining personal boundaries. Today, let's channel Aretha Franklin and focus on the 4 major mistakes we make when it comes to self-esteem, confidence and self-respect.
First, what is self-esteem?
Some people think of self-esteem as their inner voice (or self-dialogue) – you know, the voice that tells you whether you are good enough to do or achieve something and doesn’t hold back when it thinks you aren’t!
But self-esteem is actually more about how we value ourselves, and our inner perceptions about who we are and what we are capable of.
People with good self-esteem generally feel positive about themselves, and about life. This makes them much more resilient, and better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Those with poor self-esteem, however, are often much more critical of themselves. They find it harder to bounce back from challenges and setbacks, leading them to avoid difficult or painful situations. But sadly, that can actually decrease their self-esteem further, because they feel even worse about themselves and more incapable as a result.
So what are the 4 major mistakes people make that lead to low self-esteem?
1. Worrying about things outside of our control.
There's a brutal truth in life that some people simply refuse to accept: You have no control over many of the things that happen in your life.
Spending time worrying about possible events is exhausting and uses up much of your physical and mental energy without actually making a difference. When you find yourself worrying, take a minute to examine the things you have control over.
You can't prevent a storm from coming, but you can prepare for it. You can't control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react. Recognize that, sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude.
When you put your energy into the things you can control, you'll be much more effective and feel more capable of coping with what life throws at you.
2. Accepting our negative thoughts
People who lack self-confidence often think very harsh thoughts about themselves. They worry about any mistakes they make and have a very negative inner dialogue.
You may believe that being hard on yourself pushes you to try harder next time, but it likely lowers your self-esteem.
If you make any mistakes, try to learn from them and move on. Do not obsess over your faults and, instead, think about your strengths and try to have a more positive inner dialogue. This will help you improve your overall self-confidence and self-respect. And remember, your thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t necessarily true.
Replaying conversations in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes over and over again isn't helpful. But solving a problem is.
So, ask yourself whether your thinking is productive. If you are actively solving a problem, such as by trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions.
If, however, you're wasting your time ruminating, change the channel in your brain.
Acknowledge that your thoughts aren't helpful, and get up and go do something else for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.
4. Comparing ourselves to others
A classic symptom of low self-esteem is comparing yourself and your life to other people.
The key thing here, is to remember that people are usually insecure themselves and so only show the best parts of their life. Or, they are likely preoccupied with worries about their own flaws.
Remember, we are all just human and trying to do the best we can.
If you feel the need to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the past you or the future you.
You are the only one you have control over. So, have you made progress? Do you have goals to change your situation? If not, don’t worry. It’s never too late to change your life for the better, and it’s easier than you think. It all starts with the first step.
Avoiding all of these mistakes will make a real difference to your self-esteem, confidence and self-respect. It isn’t easy to change these learned behaviour patterns, but it is worth the effort.
To start with, just try noticing when you are doing one of these 4 things. Over time switch to actively challenging them when you notice them. Coaching is very effective at creating rapid changes in your mindset and can help you overcome these thoughts more easily, so get in touch if you are interested in booking a session.