Low self-esteem is a problem that does not discriminate.
It preys on all walks of life, from poor to rich, plain to beautiful, overweight to slender, anywhere in the world. You don’t have to have certain traits or characteristics to have low self-esteem. But there are some things that are found more commonly in those who live with this condition.
The reason low self-esteem is such an important topic to address is that it affects so many other aspects of a person’s life. Those who have high self-esteem tend to spend their lives working towards growing and improving themselves; while those with the opposite concentrate on avoiding mistakes that may make them feel poorly or look bad to others.
It creates a domino effect of negative problems, eventually turning, for many individuals with low self-esteem, into depression. Those who engage in this type of thinking are worried about failing. So they don’t reach for higher goals that they are not sure that they can make. They focus on an adverse event, even when it is surrounded by positive events. And they hear criticism where only constructive remarks or compliments were made.
These outcomes can make it extremely difficult for a person with low self-esteem to engage in daily social activities. They lack interpersonal communication skills and confidence and often have social anxiety keeping them from moving outside of their comfort zone.
Because of the massive blanket that low self-esteem puts on a person’s life, in effect smothering them invisibly. It is crucial that the topic is addressed and help is made readily available to those who look for it.
Here are 8 of the most common causes of low self-esteem and how to work towards a healthier level.
8 Reasons Why People May Have Low Self-Esteem
Everyone faces difficulties at some time in their life. But not everyone is equipped with the same tools to handle those obstacles and struggles. Low self-esteem is usually, but not always, a problem that begins at a young age. While our environment around us is forming our mindsets.
It takes a lot of in-depth thinking and hard mental and physical work to change the thoughts that shaped us as children, but it is not impossible. Knowing the root of your low self-esteem will help you understand how to tackle creating a better balance in your life.
Being withheld approval
The approval seeking adult almost always has roots in a person who felt that they were never good enough to those authority figures around them as a child. When criticism was doled out regularly, but compliments were rarely received, it’s understandable that your self-esteem took a hit.
If you always thought you were going to fail, regardless of what you did. A typical protective action would be never to try things you weren’t sure you could accomplish. Over time, this would result in an unconscious feeling that you weren’t good enough for things that other people had seemingly naturally.
Going through a traumatic event without the support
It would be easier to think that child abuse was an outlier in the causes of low self-esteem, but unfortunately, it is quite common. Nearly 3 million cases of child abuse are reported each year just in the United States, and these children grow into adults who often have difficulty trusting in the world.
Abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional, or sexual. Each of these creates an impact on a young child’s psyche that becomes deeply ingrained. One way many children come to terms with what occurred is by convincing themselves that they were at least partly to blame. Which results in an adult who feels ashamed of themselves and does not know why without extensive analysis, usually in the form of counseling.
Poor physical health or feeling fat/weak/skinny
The world of digital technology and social media has played havoc on people’s self-esteem. Suicides have doubled since 2007, the same time social media became popular. Is this a coincidence?
Experts think not. Bullying is easier to do through cyberspace now, and the rate of teen suicides has increased drastically. With many family members attributing their loved one’s death to social media bullying.
Less dramatically, though, but more common are the hits your self-esteem takes when you see all of the seemingly perfect men and women. Flawless in their Photoshopped pictures. You feel fat, frumpy, skinny, weak, or just plain ugly when you compare yourself to these fake images.
But it’s easy to tell yourself not to compare and a whole other issue to listen. Instead, many people with physical self-esteem issues choose the healthy route of trying to improve their body and mind with exercise. Getting a gym membership or working with certified personal trainers is a must for anyone with low self-esteem since physical activity improves your mental state and your body’s health.
Caregivers who are uninvolved or neglecting
While we are young, it is important to be surrounded by someone who gives us positive attention. Especially when we are excited about our accomplishments. When those in charge or those we look at as authority figures ignore us during these times or don’t respond as enthusiastically as we would hope. It creates feelings of unimportance in us.
When a child who feels unrecognized grows into an adult on the same path, it results in low self-esteem and a need to always apologize for everything.
Being around conflict more than calm
Each year, more than 10 million people are involved in domestic violence. These adults are supposed to be the role models to the little ones around them. And the children who witness these scenes are often scarred for life. But what about behind the scenes?
The domestic violence events that comprise the 10 million reported statistics are not usually the first time that the person reporting it has been involved in the conflict. Domestic violence usually arises from tension and conflict that eventually escalated into the phone call or report. Children who live in these environments of conflict often feel that they are responsible for the problems. That causes it and grow into adults who feel guilty for any issue.
Bullying, both with and without support
Statistics on bullying show that, even with all of the anti-bullying promotions going on, it is on the rise. Children who are bullied often go through it in silence. But when they reach out for help and are ignored, it can be traumatic. On the flip side, those who reach out and their support comes in the form of overprotective parents who teach their children that the world is cruel can be just as harmed.
Struggling in school
When faced with academic challenges, it is easy to feel that you are stupid or become embarrassed. If your struggles don’t result in the adults in charge around you noticing and stepping in to help with accommodations and scaffolding to get you where you need to be. These challenges can turn you into an adult who feels like an uneducated failure. Instead of one who had learning issues that were never addressed. Instead of seeking help, these adults often turn away from anything that might remind them of their past failures in learning.
Confusing beliefs as a child
It can be a great thing to feel as though you are part of a community with like-minded individuals. But when the views of those around you don’t match up with what’s in your heart or make you feel like you are never good enough. There’s an internal conflict that becomes rooted in your young mind.
These belief systems are ingrained young and difficult to overcome as an adult. Turning many children into grownups who feel confused about their roles and goals in life and the world in general. Belief systems are often religious in nature. Which is even harder to break out of because of the intense strength of right versus wrong and good versus bad that comes with being raised in certain religions.
Fighting Back Against Your Own Mind
Most causes of low self-esteem are rooted in your past but firmly affect your present and future. To get past these younger versions of yourself, you must fight your own mind. This is difficult to do on your own, so reaching out for help is critical.
Help may come in the form of a good friend who can listen without judgment or criticizing. Or a counselor who can give you the tools to battle yourself. And determine which of your thoughts are false thinking errors made from childhood and which are practical challenges. It may also look like getting out in nature and signing up for a gym membership to get your mental and physical self in shape.
No matter which option you choose, it’s going to be an uphill battle. But it’s for a great cause: your future. Preparing yourself with the tools to know your enemy – the reason for your low self-esteem. Will ensure you win the most important fight of your life.
A millenial mom (of two boys) who has passion in makeup and motherhood in between.