How do I avoid low self-esteem

Strengthen self-esteem: In 10 easy steps

Victor Fleming is the director of what is perhaps the most famous movie of all time: "Gone with the Wind" with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. With the film, Fleming created a wonderful lesson on self-esteem. His producer David O. Selznick once asked him why it was necessary that Scarlett and her sisters had to wear petticoats made of precious, hand-made Belgian lace. After all, nobody would see it under the clothes or in the cinema chair! "But the actresses know," Fleming is said to have replied. "And because they know that petticoats are sinfully expensive, they feel like they are supposed to play: spoiled, rich landlord's daughters." It's all a question of self-esteem ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

How self-esteem works

Of course, the number was still a waste. You can expect good actresses to master their roles in the same way. But Hollywood history shows impressively that our self-esteem not infrequently depends on external factors. Above all, a positive attitude towards yourself is required for a self-confident charisma.

“Of all the judgments we come to in life, none is as important as what we fell on ourselves, ”writes the author Gerlinde Unverzagt. The way we judge ourselves, the relationship to ourselves, affects whether we are successful at work, whether we have a happy relationship and how we deal with challenges. The self-esteem works like an inner protective shield. It is inextricably linked with the belief in one's own possibilities.

Healthy versus low self-esteem

People with a healthy self-esteem are convinced that they can influence themselves and their environment. This self-belief provides them with strength and energy. And it is it that makes it possible to overcome difficulties and challenges in the first place. "If we don't believe in ourselves - neither that we are effective, nor that we are basically good, nor that we are lovable - the world we live in is a terrifying and cold place," writes the Californian psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden.

It is called "self-esteem" - not "foreign esteem"! Even so, many leave the assessment of their own worth to others. They hunger for outside recognition, for appreciation and thus leave it to others to decide whether they develop good or low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem begins in childhood

Often it starts in childhood. Parents have a particularly important role to play in developing healthy self-esteem: They are the first to convey that you are a valuable person who is loved. This strengthens from within and gives security.

The way parents treat the child also plays a role. If there is a lack of respectful interaction, or if you are mocked or exposed as a child, your self-esteem is damaged. Those affected then develop the conviction that - as they are - they are not right or good enough. Your own needs do not count, it is only a matter of fulfilling other people's expectations. This belief then remains as an adult. And with it a low self-esteem.

Self-realization at work can trigger a crisis of meaning

My house, my car, my job - for many people these are important values ​​that define themselves. This is how they determine their status, their position in society. Of course, everyone is free to define what he or she uses to define themselves. But in turbulent times, in which such things can easily falter, personal self-esteem also fluctuates considerably.

What a humiliationwhen the question “What are you doing?” can only be answered with a shrug. Repeated success, years of upswing, steady growth - as happy as prosperity and prosperity can make you: they also represent a danger. Then, when they lead to excessive expectations of ourselves. If we think that all of this - the money, the success, the recognition - can be taken for granted and it must go on and on. The phenomenon is called the “Icarus effect” in technical terms.

The mistake of thinking that many commit: They no longer see success as the result of their efforts and goals, but formulate a claim from it. The more we use our profession for self-realization, the more it becomes a yardstick for self-affirmation. And that can be misleading: No job, no self-actualization, no self-worth. End of the line crisis of meaning.

Understand self-doubt

People with low self-esteem are often plagued by self-doubt. Your inner voice is like a strict parent who ruthlessly brings down your child for poor performance.

  • If you have a low self-esteem, you constantly hold on to your own weaknesses and mistakes. Such people find it difficult to accept compliments and enjoy happy moments.
  • Often times, they feel uncomfortable being the center of attention. They expect rejection from their environment. For example, they refer to a failure to call back from friends and acquaintances and think that they have done something wrong.
  • Those who have low self-esteem unconsciously look for evidence to support the poor judgment about themselves.
  • It is not uncommon for these people to lack experiences in which they have seen themselves to be successful. Moments when they found that they were able to overcome challenges.

Beliefs that sabotage our self-esteem

Typical, negative beliefs (so-called affirmations) are in this context:

  • I am not good, smart, beautiful enough.
  • I did not deserve that.
  • I am already too old for that.
  • I could fail.
  • It matters what others think of me.
  • I don't have a chance anyway.
  • Nobody likes me.
  • I am a victim of my circumstances.

The Consequences of Low Self-Esteem

Anyone who persuades themselves to do this over and over again will at some point believe that it is true. Thoughts have tremendous power. The effect is: We stay below our possibilities, waste potential and talent. In the end, a vicious circle arises: For fear of failure (again!), We no longer set ourselves goals and consequently nothing more - which in turn confirms the assumption that we are a failure.

Many are brainwashed as a resultto which they have subjected themselves: In the age of the mass media, we are constantly comparing ourselves with the incomparable: the pimped pictures on Instagram, the perfect world on Facebook, the success of others on Youtube or LinkedIn. But that doesn't spur us on - “it makes us jealous, indolent, angry, envious,” said Norbert Bolz, media professor at the TU Berlin, for example. We want to keep up so as not to pant afterwards - but that is exactly what we do. Our self-esteem has long been dependent on the encouragement of others, on the number of followers or likes. A more than questionable foundation.

Overcome self-doubt - strengthen self-esteem

As the name suggests, we are responsible for our self-esteem. So self-worth is a question of (one's) yardstick. Exclusively. If you are aware of this, you are a big step further. We also radiate success. But glamor and glory always begin within.

That sounds like esoteric Li Laune gurgling, yes. But that doesn't make it any less true. You just have to look around: Almost all great personalities in history have one thing in common: they believed in themselves (unreservedly). It wasn't something they were born with. You had to learn. And everyone else can do that too. The essential lessons and building blocks for this are:

  1. Receive compliments with pleasure

    It is particularly difficult for those with low self-esteem. In his famous inaugural address, Nelson Mandela said: “It is not our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, great, talented and powerful? ”It is precisely these doubts that torment many people. If they receive a compliment, there is a defensive reaction at the same time. “I can't possibly be meant by that!” The devastating judgment on oneself prevents the compliment from being accepted. Luckily Mandela also knew the solution: "Better to ask: What are you actually doing in order not to be all that?" Ask yourself this question again and again. It will help you accept compliments.

  2. Stop comparing yourself to others

    Continuing to measure yourself against others is a surefire way to get into disaster. Nothing promotes self-doubt like constant comparison. Why can't I have what he has? Why am I not so successful? Why am I not so beautiful? Some even come to the conclusion that they don't deserve it or are doing something wrong. Bullshit! Your self-esteem should ALWAYS come from within and not rely on doing better than others.

  3. Look at what you can

    Everyone can do something! Visualize your strengths and successes. We don't mean to clumsily tell ourselves: I'm great! I am strong! Rather, you should see to yourself what you can do and what you have already achieved. Situations in which you were proud of yourself - and rightly so. If you can't think of anything straight away, ask your family or friends!

  4. Provide little sense of achievement

    Set realistic, achievable goals and document progress. By taking responsibility and seeing successes, you strengthen faith in your own abilities. The ultimate tip is: keep a success diary or success journal. While reading it and looking back, you will be surprised at what you have already mastered.

  5. Prepare for setbacks

    Everyone has experienced a situation that has shaken their self-esteem. An insult or a setback and a career turnaround. Remember such situations and play them through again in your mind. Often we do not quarrel with the failure (which happens), but with our reaction to it. Now define a limit that nobody is allowed to cross. And think of words for a perfect response. That gives security.

  6. Appease the inner critic

    Every time you judge yourself too harshly, the inner critic speaks. It is not unimportant for self-reflection and personal growth. But it can also damage our self-esteem. The trick is to separate thoughts and reality. And don't be so merciless to yourself - neither are you with others. Try to treat yourself like a good friend.

  7. Help your fellow human beings

    For an experiment, the psychologist Jennifer Crocker from the University of Michigan gave a student flat-share a simple task: each roommate had the task of supporting and encouraging the others in a targeted manner. A real community soon developed from it. It was not so much the experience of daily encouragement that increased the residents' self-esteem - it was even more the giving. Doing something good for others makes you feel good about yourself.

  8. Maintain contacts with positive people

    Anyone who constantly surrounds themselves with nondescripts becomes one themselves. Because a bad mood is contagious. In doing so, many increase their criticism and nagging. You focus solely on the negative aspects and lose sight of the big picture. Avoid such toxic people where you can and surround yourself with positive people instead.

  9. Celebrate successes

    Reward yourself. Every day. Far too seldom do we appreciate ourselves. Especially people with low self-esteem forget this. But it is important to create a balance. Celebrate beautiful moments, celebrate successes. Even the very little ones. The following “memorandum” also helps to motivate yourself. You can still download it HERE free of charge as a PDF, print it out and hang it up where you see it again and again:

  10. Do what you love as often as possible

    What you love and what you enjoy fills you and creates an inner satisfaction. Especially if you are in line with your own values. It is the gap between what we do and what we want that makes us unhappy. Keep this gap as small as possible!

The emotional roller coaster ride in crises

"When their self-esteem is cracked, many no longer trust their feelings and physical signals," says psychotherapist Bernd Sprenger. The result is stress that can make you physically ill in the long term, "because it weakens the immune system."

In fact, such crises of meaning and life often follow a pattern. This ranges from paralysis and sadness to anger or depression. Psychologists know these phases as the so-called “Roller Coaster Ride” - a roller coaster ride of emotions. That doesn't make it any easier for those affected. With this awareness, however, crises can be mitigated and overcome more quickly. If you know what phase you or a friend is going through, you see yourself in a different light or you can help better.

The typical crisis phases (see graphic) are:

1. Premonition
The person concerned anticipates an imminent termination and calculates possible reactions, but also his financial situation.

2. Termination shock
The dismissal has been pronounced, now it is official. Immediately afterwards, a shock usually sets in. The person concerned needs time to fully grasp and cope with his situation.

3a. Recovery phase
There is a slight recovery, sometimes relief. The person concerned takes time out, takes care of what has been left behind, comes to rest.

3b. New efforts
Now new plans are being made. What's next? Usually, job advertisements are now searched in job exchanges: What is on offer? What am I worth in the job market?

4a. denial
If the first spontaneous attempts to get back to work are unsuccessful or if the market situation is desolate, the situation is often talked about - especially in the private sphere.

4b. Anger
There is no progress. That frustrates. The termination is reflected once more. Now bad feelings come into play: The boss, the colleagues - how unfair did they behave? The termination seems like common betrayal - "and me of all people!"

4c. Renewed action
Doesn't work, doesn't exist. Don't give up! The person concerned takes courage and tries again. Adapts to the market, maybe further educates. And if successful, go to point 6.

4d. acceptance
Nothing helps. No matter what the person concerned does, he remains unemployed. Applications come back, rejections follow. At some point he gives up and gives up.

4e. depression
Depending on the importance of the work and career before, it is linked to a lot of self-esteem. Long-term unemployment can therefore lead to depression.

5. Subdued hope
A ray of hope - maybe a friend gives courage, he could find a job or the person concerned has discovered the prospect of a job himself. In this case, new forces are mobilized and efforts are made.

6. Enthusiasm
It looks good - the new job is within reach. So everything is brought into shape: curriculum vitae, outfit, appearance, family life.

7a. New employment
It's done, the new contract is signed. The job can start ...

7b. new 4-cycle
But nothing! At the last moment, the wick that should ignite the second career glows. The deeper the crash is now: Am I a failure?

8. Depression or even apathy
(like 4e - or worse)

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[Photo credit: Jiw Ingka by]