While you might already have a good indication that you are suffering from low self-esteem, it might be a good idea to explore this a little further.
Take this simple quiz.
Directions: Answer T if the statement is true for you. Answer F if the statement is false for you.
T F I am able to discuss my good points, skills, abilities, achievements, and successes with others.
T F I assert myself with someone whom I believe is violating or ignoring my rights.
T F I am content with who I am, how I act, and what I do in life.
T F I am not bothered by feelings of insecurity or anxiety when I meet people for the first time.
T F My life is balanced between work, family life, social life, recreation/leisure, and spiritual life.
T F I am aware of the roles I played in my family of origin and have usually been able to make these behavior patterns work for me in my current life.
T F I am bonded with the significant others in my environment at home, work, school, at play, or in the community.
T F I am able to perform the developmental tasks necessary to ensure my ongoing healthy self-esteem.
T F I am satisfied with my level of achievement at school, work, home, and in the community.
T F I am a good problem solver; my thinking is not clouded by irrational beliefs or fears.
T F I am willing to experience conflict, if necessary to protect my rights.
If you selected F for three or more of the preceding questions, you probably need to work at increasing your self-esteem. That’s what we’re here for! But that comes a little later!
There are many, many indicators that a person has low self-esteem. Consider this list.
People with low self-esteem:
• Consider themselves lost, unworthy of being cared for
• Are poor risk takers
• Operate out of a fear of rejection
• Are typically unassertive in their behavior with others
• Are fearful of conflict with others
• Are hungry for the approval of others
• Are poor problem solvers
• Are fraught with irrational beliefs and have a tendency to think irrationally
• Are susceptible to all kinds of fears
• Have a tendency to become emotionally stuck and immobilized
• Have a poor “track record” in school or on the job; conversely, they sometimes over compensate and become over-achievers
• Are unable to affirm or to reinforce themselves positively
• Are unable to make an honest assessment of their strengths, qualities, and good points; they find it difficult to accept compliments or recognition from others
• Have poorly defined self-identities with a tendency to be chameleons in order to fit in with others
• Are insecure, anxious, and nervous when they are with others
• Often become overcome with anger about their status in life and are likely to have chronic hostility or chronic depression
• Are easily overcome with despair and depression when they experience a setback or loss in their lives
• Have a tendency to overreact and become de-energized by resentment, anger, and the desire for revenge against those whom they believe have not fully accepted them
• Fulfill roles in their families of origin that are counter-productive and maladaptive. These roles carry over into their adult lives
• Are vulnerable to mental health problems and have a propensity to use addictive behavior to medicate their hurt and pain. Such addictive behavior can include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, shopping, smoking, working too much, or the search for excitement, truth, wisdom, and a guru with an easy guide to the achievement of happiness
Kind of overwhelming, isn’t it? Do you recognize yourself in any of these statements? Don’t feel alone. Actually, low self-esteem is actually quite a widespread problem. And if you suffer from this problem, it can cause some more – even serious – problems.
Low self-esteem can have devastating consequences.
• It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for depression.
• It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.
• It can seriously impair academic and job performance.
• It can lead to underachievement and increased vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse.
Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem and increasingly non-productive or even actively self-destructive behavior.
There are actually three “faces” that people with low self-esteem wear. See if you see yourself in any of these personalities.
The Impostor: acts happy and successful, but is really terrified of failure. The imposter lives with the constant fear that she or he will be “found out.” They need continuous successes to maintain the mask of positive self-esteem, which may lead to problems with perfectionism, procrastination, competition, and burn-out.
The Rebel: acts like the opinions or good will of others – especially people who are important or powerful – don’t matter. The rebel lives with constant anger about not feeling “good enough.” They continuously need to prove that others’ judgments and criticisms don’t hurt, which may lead to problems like blaming others excessively, breaking rules or laws, or fighting authority.
The Loser: acts helpless and unable to cope with the world and waits for someone to come to the rescue. The loser uses self-pity or indifference as a shield against fear of taking responsibility for changing his or her life. They look constantly to others for guidance, which can lead to such problems as lacking assertiveness skills, under-achievement, and excessive reliance on others in relationships.
So what does a person with healthy self-esteem look like? These people exhibit the following qualities.
• Hold themselves as worthy to be loved and to love others, worthy to be cared for and to care for others, worthy to be nurtured and to nurture others, worthy to be touched and supported and to touch and support others, worthy to be listened to and to listen to others, worthy to be recognized and to recognize others, worthy to be encouraged and to encourage others, worthy to be reinforced as “good” people and to recognize others as “good” people.
• Have a productive personality; they have achieved success to the best of their ability in school, work, and society.
• Are capable of being creative, imaginative problem solvers; of being risk takers, optimistic in their approach to life and in the attainment of their personal goals.
• Are leaders and are skillful in dealing with people. They are neither too independent nor too dependent on others. They have the ability to size up a relationship and adjust to the demands of the interaction.
• Have a healthy self-concept. Their perception of themselves is in synchrony with the picture of themselves they project to others.
• Are able to state clearly who they are, what their future potential is, and to what they are committed in life. They are able to declare what they deserve to receive in their lifetime.
• Are able to accept the responsibility for and consequences of their actions. They do not resort to shifting the blame or using others as scapegoats for actions that have resulted in a negative outcome.
• Are altruistic. They have a legitimate concern for the welfare of others. They are not self-centered or egotistical in their outlook on life. They do not take on the responsibility for others in an over-responsible way. They help others accept the responsibility for their own actions. They are; however, always ready to help anyone who legitimately needs assistance or guidance.
• Have healthy coping skills. They are able to handle the stresses in their lives in a productive way. They are able to put the problems, concerns, issues, and conflicts that come their way into perspective. They are able to keep their lives in perspective without becoming too idealistic or too morose. They are survivors in the healthiest sense of the word. They have a good sense of humor and are able to keep a balance of work and fun in their lives.
• Look to the future with excitement, a sense of adventure and optimism. They recognize their potential for success and visualize their success in the future. They have dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future.
• They are goal-oriented with a sense of balance in working toward their goals. They know from where they have come, where they are now, and where they are going.
Does this sound like someone you want to be like? Well, it can be! There are so many steps you can take to raise your self-worth and stop suffering from low self-esteem. You will be a much better person for it and enjoy a wonderfully fulfilling life.
The first point we need to address is your inner voice.