At some point in our lives, we’ve all had low self-esteem and whilst some of us may have been able to deal with it, some others are still struggling. Having low self-esteem is inevitable because even the most confident and successful get hit by it. Now, what is self-esteem? What causes low self-esteem? How can low self-esteem be dealt with?
Self-esteem is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth. Simply put, it is how you see yourself and low self-esteem is how low you see or think about yourself. Low self-esteem can be caused by genetic factors, physical appearance or weight, mental health issues, socio-economic status, emotional experiences, stigma, peer pressure, bullying, amongst others.
Personally, I was a victim of low self-esteem for years and it affected my mood, health, relationship with myself and others, my productivity, mental health and just a lot. How? I always saw myself as short and fat, people bullied me because of that and I didn’t like myself at all nor the people who bullied me. It was so bad that for years, I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror. I didn’t like what I saw and I hated mirrors. I couldn’t see myself naked, how much more someone else. It took a long while, self-love, words of affirmation from others and research to accept the fact that I was wired fat and short. Yes, it’s a genetic thing and I can’t run away from it. Highest I do is work out to keep fit, eat right to stay healthy and simply ignore what people say and do. These days, I’d rather go around with no clothes on at home at don’t care if my fluffy, round tummy is staring right at your face.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but hiding away as a shy girl, crying and feeling odd, being sad about being rejected didn’t help. So, I took it upon myself to stand up for myself when I needed to and sometimes, just let people have their way, but not let their words and actions get to me. You can’t control what people say or think about you, but you can control how you react to it.
Other reasons for my low self-esteem were peer pressure, bullying and emotional experiences. People out rightly said I wasn’t good enough. My writing was condemned and seen as trash, my relationship ended because I was nothing like the other girl, the people around me wanted me to be a certain way that I wasn’t, my environment, background all added to it. So, in my quest to ditch the labels and change the narrative about me, I drove myself to becoming a perfectionist. I got obsessed with getting things done a particular way, getting hard on myself to achieve excellence, listening to what people said and heavily criticizing myself with their metrics, going out of my way to please others and dwelling on past mistakes. All of these influenced my life years later one way or the other- some, negatively and others positively.
Few weeks ago, I got hit by a scandal that broke me badly and I sent a message to a few people and told them I felt like a failure. I was so broken by the situation that I lost my strength and voice. However, their words of encouragement and affirmation was what helped me get back on my feet and I realized that sometimes, having that one person who doesn’t see you the way you see yourself or the way others see you is all you need to live.
It is not easy for someone with low self-esteem to all of a sudden feel good about themselves or confident in their own skin. It takes a lot of motivation, support, encouraging words, patience and determination to help them deal with low self-esteem. It definitely isn’t an easy run trying to deal with it, but here is what helped me deal with low self-esteem:
- Ditch the labels! People will always put you in a box and label you, but who you are isn’t defined by someone else’s negative narrative of you. You’re better than that!
- Speak up or forever remain silent! This depends on the situation. Sometimes, I’d rather speak up for myself or simply ignore what people say or do and live my life for me.
- Take care of yourself! Eat healthy, exercise, sleep, stay hydrated, take care of your skin, hair, clothes, body and just care for all that needs to be taken care of.
- Know your triggers! Is it someone, something or a situation that usually triggers your self-esteem? Get to the root of it and it’ll help you tackle it better.
- Be positive! Think and speak positive things about yourself.
- Be the truest and realest version of yourself.
These has helped me navigate through life and I believe that it could help you or any other person with a low self-esteem. This also doesn’t mean that sometimes, people or situations won’t try to shake up your self-image, but how you react is what will help you build that strength and resilience for future events. Here is a quote I love and I hope this helps you deal with low self-esteem.