In a world where how you feel about yourself is so important, it is disheartening that there are so many ways that your self worth can be reduced down to nothing.
If you look at the magazines while you are in the grocery store, you are bombarded with mixed messages. Some magazines plaster their covers with why you should love yourself and how to build confidence, while the magazine right next to it tells you how to lose 10 pounds quickly or how to pleasure your man. Some magazines even have the audacity to put both of these headlines on the same cover!
While the media may be a large contributor when it comes to low self worth, it isn’t the only culprit – nor are females the only victims. Guys suffer from low self worth too. It’s just that guys are taught that you cannot show any sign of weakness and more often than not, that cockiness some guys exude is just a show.
What can cause low self worth?
There are many factors that can harm your self worth, things that happened in your childhood like bullying, punishments, neglect, and even abuse. These factors can be detrimental to a child’s growth, but the effects can be felt all the way into adulthood. Just think of instances where you didn’t live up to your parents’ expectations as a child, and every now and then, you catch yourself doubting your choices as you go through life.
Like many people, you may have had a very good childhood and didn’t experience the typical troubles that could damage your esteem. But as we grow up, we still can face other factors that can hurt our self esteem and self worth.
These factors could be anything from comparing yourself to others your age, financial and social situation, unemployed *or having a job you do not like*, or coming out of a bad relationship where you were abused, either mentally, emotionally, or physically.
No matter the situation or experience, if it leaves you questioning your worth and your purpose in the world, it is damaging your self-esteem and making you feel inferior to others. [Read: 10 things you can start right now to make yourself feel better immediately]
Why is low self-esteem harmful?
Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness. -Louise Hart
Dr. Louise Hart, a psychologist who specializes in parenting techniques to help improve the social, emotional, and mental health in children, couldn’t have said it better. You wouldn’t go to Ikea and purchase a table that had crooked legs, so why should you go through life with a sub-par sense of well-being?
Low self-esteem can wreak havoc on your physical health as well as your mental health, as these two go hand in hand. For example, how many times have you started a diet and you do well for a few days, but when you cave in and have that milkshake or a decadent piece of chocolate cake, you feel guilty. [Read: 25 inspirational tips to stay inspired and work out]
Instead of forgiving yourself and understanding that weight loss is a difficult journey, you beat yourself up so much that you just give up because you feel that you cannot do it *this is coming from personal experience*. When you give up eating right, you may also give up exercising and this only makes things worse.
When you have low self-esteem, it makes everything feel so much more difficult. You don’t believe in yourself and you cannot see yourself the same way others see you. How many times have you been out somewhere and had someone approach you with something nice to say, only for you to be skeptical and dismissive? [Read: 10 sure signs your negative thinking is ruining your life]
If you have low self worth and self esteem, it’s hard to see the good in yourself and you do not believe *or understand* the compliments you may receive. Who knows how many opportunities you may have missed out on, all because you don’t see yourself in a positive light! Sadly, if this consistently happens, people may begin to see you in that negative light, too.
5 steps to change how you see yourself
One of hardest parts of changing the way you see yourself is admitting that you do experience low self-worth and recognizing that you are worth the effort that is necessary to change it. More often than not, people with low self worth have grown so complacent that they are afraid to change because they may think it will be too difficult.
While it is true that it the road to having good self worth and knowing your worth is paved with challenges and setbacks, it is not impossible! Here are a few ways to begin the transformation and recognizing that you are someone who deserves happiness.
Step #1 Accept yourself for who you are. As a human, we have flaws and weaknesses. There is no one person that is perfect, and it does no one any good to compare themselves to someone else. When you are trying to improve your self worth, it is important that you recognize this and accept it. You have to come to terms with things that may have hurt you in the past and your flaws, without beating yourself in the process. [Read: 5 life altering lessons you can learn from regret]
Step #2 Say “bye-bye” to the voice in your head. It is easy to call yourself names when you do something stupid. How many times have you called yourself an idiot because you forgot something or you did poorly on an assignment?
While we may not think that this is harmful, it actually is. It makes you feel bad about yourself and it reinforces low self worth. Instead of calling yourself stupid, change your thinking to remind yourself not to make the same mistake twice. They don’t say you are your own worst critic for nothing, after all.
Step #3 Use positivity instead of negativity as motivation. Too often, we’ve been conditioned to respond to negative criticisms to give us the motivation to change. For example, let’s go back to those magazines that tell you how to lose weight. Those articles are usually accompanied by gorgeous people, and while it may not be the intent of these magazines to make you feel bad, it never fails to when we read these articles to compare ourselves to those models. Instead of comparing yourself to those models, tell yourself of the benefits of the exercise regimes and the healthier meal options.
You need to focus on the good things that will come from being healthy, like having more energy, feeling more comfortable in your own skin, etc. These positive comments to yourself will help you feel more confident and boost your self worth because you are recognizing that you are worth the effort to change. [Read: 11 tips to stay positive, love yourself and be a much better YOU]
Step #4 Appreciate who you are and where you come from. This is a simple exercise that you can do anywhere. Once a day, close your eyes and ask yourself, “What are three things I like about myself?” The way you answer this question is entirely up to you.
It can be as something as simple as the choice of the outfit you are wearing that day, or it can be that you donated some time to a social cause. It can be anything. You could go one step further and write these down every day in a journal, and then periodically go back and read through them.
It will help you realize that you are a good person and that you do good things. The more things you can write down, the better you will feel when you go back and read through the journal. [Read: 6 big telltale excuses that get you nowhere]
Step #5 Be kind and generous toward others. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to raise your self worth is by being kind toward others. When you do nice things for others, especially when it is unexpected, their gratitude can make you feel amazing.
For myself, I always hold the door for others or if they have only a few items to purchase, I let them go in front of me at the checkout. While these are very small things, they make me feel good because the person is *usually* grateful, and it’s always nice to be rewarded with a genuine smile. There are so many ways that you can be kind to other people. You will find that it is a rewarding experience and it’ll make you feel incredible about yourself!
[Read: 12 insightful life lessons that’ll will help you have a better life]
When you believe that you can make people happy or that you control your own life and future, your self worth will grow with each new day, and you will start to believe that you’re more deserving of your own love and respect.
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