Sooner or later we manifest what we think. And nothing is more important than what we think about ourselves.
The disadvantages of low self-esteem are more pervasive than the pretense of humility or the fear of taking on an unfamiliar challenge. Those with high self-esteem intrinsically operate independently of what others think of them. They are unaffected by both the criticism and approval of others and are therefore unlimited in their choice of actions.
If you care about avoiding the disadvantages of low self-esteem, brave the self-assessment to determine how you feel about yourself. Ask yourself these few simple yes/no questions:
- Do I respect myself?
- Do I take pride in myself?
- Do I believe in myself?
- Do I take care of myself?
Because self-esteem is a reflection of how you feel about yourself, it also affects your perception of how others feel about you. If you have low self-esteem, you may actively dislike yourself, assuming that “If only I were good enough, people might like me.” This distorted perception will cause you to believe that everyone is being critical of you. In turn, you will make choices that decrease your chances of “making mistakes,” all in an effort to be accepted.
Sure, it’s easy to tell someone that thinking that way is backward. No one can have a steadfast self-esteem if the winds of public opinion can toss her around, or even knock her down. But how do you get to that coveted place of self-love when you are starting at the bottom?
As with any other problem to be solved, acknowledging the problem and its symptoms is essential. The disadvantages of low self-esteem are many, and they can become insidiously damaging to your life and future.
Let’s expose some of the biggies. Do any of the following sound familiar?
- Feeling anxious or depressed When you don’t like or approve of the one person you live with every day — you — anxiety and depression are natural consequences.
- Heavy self-criticism A habitual state of dissatisfaction with yourself leads to exaggerating the magnitude of mistakes or behaviors. You also become unable to forgive yourself.
- Hypersensitivity to criticism If you feel attacked all the time, you will close yourself off to constructive criticism. And that inevitably translates to stunted growth and progress.
- Inability to accept compliments Just because you can’t accept criticism doesn’t mean you can accept compliments. When you don’t like you, everyone is either lying or out to get you, right?
- Chronic indecision A fear of making mistakes leads to inaction. And inaction on your part leaves both responsibility and success to others.
- The absence of self-trust If you don’t like yourself, chances are your opinions aren’t going to matter to you. And if you don’t trust yourself, you won’t take action on your own behalf or in the direction of your dreams.
- Perfectionism This goes hand-in-hand with chronic indecision, as both are rooted in a fear of making mistakes, and therefore being unaccepted. Perfectionism leads to constant frustration, and often underachievement when perceived perfection isn’t attained. And how often is anything done to perfection…by anyone?
- Self-neglect It is human nature to take care of what we love…and to overlook that which we don’t. Your patterns of self-care — nutrition, sleep, exercise, social interactions — are all a reflection of your self-esteem.
- Eating disorders If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see — inside or out — where do you start to change that perception? Sadly, food is often a pawn in the battle to achieve self-love. It is “there,” it has no opinion, and it can be controlled and manipulated. And feeling “in control,” even briefly, can feed a need for empowerment for a person with low self-esteem.
- Addictions When the pain of living with oneself is too painful to bear, addictions are born to drown the pain. What pretends to be a “friend” in the beginning quickly becomes a fierce enemy. The addict already has no self-confidence or willpower to stand up to it, so the danger only deepens.
- Inability to persevere and overcome hurdles If you have low self-esteem, challenges aren’t just challenges — they are a source of intimidation, an opportunity to fail.
- Loss of hope Of all the disadvantages of low self-esteem, none could be more telling or devastating than the loss of hope. Low self-esteem feeds a general negativity about life, and often an inability to enjoy it or expect anything from it.
If you have read this far and recognized yourself in any part of this list, congratulate yourself! It took courage — and yes, more than a little self-love — to open a door into a source of help.
You probably noticed the interconnectedness of the listed disadvantages of low self-esteem. The hopeful message in that is the parallel interconnectedness of the steps you take to elevate your self-esteem.
A healthy self-esteem is a byproduct of living in a healthy way. And that means it is possible and a choice. If all you do today, after reading this article, is choose to believe that you are worth the effort, you will have taken a giant step in the right direction.