Way to Self-esteem

How do you feel about yourself?

Soulveda finds out why some of us suffer from low self-esteem, and what we could do about it.

When you look in the mirror every morning, what do you see? A confident, capable individual who is ready to take on the day or someone who is anxious and fearful about what the day might bring about? It’s okay if you don’t have an answer. You are not alone. Most of us, in our rush to get on with our day, do not bother paying attention to our feelings. But it is important to do so, for our self-esteem determines our confidence and ability to deal with the many challenges that life throws at us.

If we have high self-esteem, we will know we are capable of handling whatever comes our way. This awareness gives us the confidence to face challenges with our heads held high. And even when we fumble or fall, we can pick ourselves back up. If we have low self-esteem, on the other hand, we tend to have some harmful psychological habits. We engage in negative self-talk, thinking we don’t deserve good things or opportunities, and we hold ourselves back.

Life is hard even for the strongest of us. With low self-esteem, we might make it even harder on ourselves. In this feature, Soulveda finds out why some of us suffer from low self-esteem, and what we could do about it.

Often, low self-esteem is a complicated problem. As Peter Michaelson writes in See Your Way to Self-esteem: “The problem cannot be separated from a person’s whole psychology, his psychological development.” Brooding over hurtful experiences, fixating on our perceived flaws and putting ourselves down with our thoughts are some ways we destroy our sense of self-worth. Therefore, in order to overcome low self-esteem, we need to get rid of the bad psychological habits that we have inculcated over the years.

We all have flaws. We all make mistakes and do things we are not proud of. While it is important to be aware of the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, it is unwise to brood over them. Unfortunately, this is what most of us tend to do in moments of weakness. Such constant negativity pollutes our thoughts and deepens emotional wounds, says psychologist and author Guy Winch in his Ted Talk Why We All Need to Practise Emotional First-Aid.

Evidently, low self-esteem has far-reaching consequences when it comes to our overall wellbeing.

Our self-esteem is often low when we face rejection, loneliness, or failure. At such vulnerable times, we must avoid negative self-talk and be gentle with ourselves, Winch says. The psychologist further advises against the unhealthy habit of rumination. For instance, when a professor makes us feel stupid in class or when we face harsh criticism at work or when we have a bitter argument with a friend, we tend to replay the scene in our head a hundred times over the next few days. This amplifies the impact of the negative experience and brings us more pain than necessary, thereby taking a toll on our self-esteem.

In fact, a study conducted by the University of Basel, Switzerland, has shown that rumination is the link between low self-esteem and depression. This means individuals with low self-esteem who constantly ruminate over hurtful experiences and thoughts are at risk of plunging into depression. Furthermore, this can snowball into physical health disorders as well. Spending so much time focussing on upsetting negative thoughts could put one on the path to developing alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular diseases.

Evidently, low self-esteem has far-reaching consequences when it comes to our overall wellbeing. And nothing short of an attitude overhaul will help us overcome this problem. Letting go of negative habits by forming positive ones is the most important step in this process. The next time we find ourselves going down the road of self-sabotage, we must stop and actively switch to positive thoughts. Of course, this might be easier said than done.

To make it simpler, we can try to distance ourselves from the negative situation and talk to ourselves like a good friend would. Actually reaching out to a good friend too might be a good way to inject some positive thoughts and solutions into our minds. This might help us feel comforted during difficult times. As Winch puts it: “By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive.”




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