Do You Suffer from Low Self-Esteem?
Think back to your younger years. Were you raised by the perfect parents, people who supported you and your interests, encouraged you to go as far as you could, to spread your wings and soar? Did you know that they had your back and there was always a safe place called “home” to which you could return?
No? Wish you’d had those kind of people raising you? Bad News: They are a myth. A myth that does us no good.
Most people grow up being raised by inadequately prepared human beings who were raised by other inadequately prepared human beings back into the mists of time. Some people even grow up with damaged, malicious parents who didn’t even try. Maybe your home was OK but you had a sibling or a bully in your life whose sole purpose was to make you miserable. Maybe you took a wrong turn and ended up dropping out of school, marrying the wrong person, having a kid too early in your life, losing a good job or blowing all your money.
Maybe somewhere between your glorious, potential-filled moment of birth and today, things have not turned out so good.
Welcome to the planet! A lot of people have reached adulthood with our so-called self-esteem in tatters, or worse – completely gone.
Suspect that might be you?
The Self Esteem Quiz
(Answer Yes or No to the questions below)
1. People find me boring most of the time.
2. When I die, no one will miss me – if they even notice I’m gone!
3. I have to really work at pleasing people in any kind of relationship (work, love, friends).
4. I realize now that I will never amount to much of anything, nor do anything significant with my life.
5. I get very discouraged if someone disagrees with me or criticizes me.
6. I am ugly or otherwise unattractive in some important ways.
7. I deserve to be loved and respected.
8. I doubt my ability to improve myself or my life.
9. I fall short of my own expectations.
10. I like myself.
SCORING: At optimal self-esteem, you would have chosen False for questions 1-6, 8 and 9 and True for questions 7 and 10.
Didn’t score so high? If you’re over the age of 16, it’s time to take yourself in hand and do what it takes to raise your self-esteem. It’s an inside job and no one can do it except you.
How to Recover From Low Self-Esteem
Hint: Disregard them all as “simplistic” or “stupid” and you will stay at the same level you are at right now. Apply at least some of them and woo-hoo! Who knows what might happen? You choose.
Good Idea #1: Start a Personal Positivity Campaign
For the next 10 days, write down 5 things you actually like about yourself every morning. They don’t have to be “I cured cancer” or “I gave $25,000 to a charity”. Start with stuff like, “I made a healthy dinner for my family yesterday” or “I know a lot about ________________.” If you like the process, keep it up!
Good Idea #2: Compliment 3 People Today
Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But when we help others feel better, we tend to feel better about ourselves. One rule: 2 of the 3 people have to be people outside your family. (P.S. To help your loved ones have more self-esteem, give them ample honest compliments daily!)
Good Idea #3: Find and Focus on an Object of Beauty
When our environment is pleasant and positive, it reinforces our sense of self. Light a scented candle. Put a plant or a flower on your desk. Spend time watching a bird. Admire the view from your favorite window. Looking outside ourselves rebuilds our souls.
Good Idea #4: Write a Short Hero Story
Even if you think you’re a bad writer, sit down today and write an imaginary story in which you are the hero(ine). Write about how if you were the person you think you should be – heroic, full of confidence, engaging, charming, attractive, etc. – you would interact with someone or handle some situation that may be troubling you in real life. Write at least 350 words of this fantasy adventure and read it over twice in the following 24 hours.
Good Idea #5: Catch Yourself Doing Things Right
Keep a secret journal or open a note on your phone. Elaborate on this idea starter: “Today, I did this right:” It could be how well you handled a phone call or a screaming toddler; that you didn’t eat two slices of cake; or that you went to the gym even though you were tired. Doesn’t matter what it is – just start by noticing all the things you do right, the things you take for granted. Review it frequently, because all the little things add up to a whole lot of right things.
If any of those sounds hokey or simplistic, I dare you to try it for a month and watch how much more comfortable you feel being you. Remember that perfect parenting you didn’t get? Well, lucky for you! It’s never too late to give yourself a happy childhood – even in adulthood. Start today and watch your self-esteem start to rise.
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Want to take a more formal test? Click here to see the one offered by Psychology Today online.