I have low self-esteem.
I always have. I can acknowledge it and I’m trying to work on it.
In doing so, I’ve recognised three main ways that I have inadvertently destroyed my self-esteem over the years.
By persistently making these mistakes, I haven’t given myself a fighting chance to build up my self-esteem and find real peace with who I am.
So, you want some tips on how to destroy your self-esteem? Feel free to follow my handy guide below, based on my experiences.
One great way to destroy your self-esteem is to set yourself the hilariously impossible task of being absolutely perfect.
Make sure that if you do anything that isn’t 100% perfect (in your eyes and the eyes of every single person on earth), you berate yourself endlessly and attribute the failure to the fact that you are a terrible person and can’t do anything right.
If you can’t do something absolutely perfectly immediately, don’t even attempt it.
If a project doesn’t turn out quite the way you wanted it to, throw the whole thing away.
2. Toxic associations
Surround yourself with people who either overtly or surreptitiously make you feel like shit.
Make sure you spend a lot of time around people who mock your efforts, criticise your work, and downplay your achievements.
Accept all of their criticisms as fact, even if you originally felt like you’d done a good job. Don’t rely on your own intuition.
Seek validation from these people and base your feelings about your own work on their opinion of it.
Make sure to constantly remind yourself that whatever you do, someone else is always doing it better than you.
Spend a lot of time on social media and convince yourself that everyone is completely honest on Instagram and Twitter and their lives are picture-perfect every single day.
Focus your energy on praising and admiring others by putting yourself down or making self-deprecating jokes about how you could never hope to be as good as them.
Okay, so reading this whole thing together might make it sound ridiculous…
…but I have done every single one of these things… some of them, I still do!
We don’t do them all at once, but when these things are sprinkled through our lives, they insidiously wear-down our self-esteem and can leave us feeling really rubbish about ourselves.
There are lots of things we can do to improve our self-esteem, but I think these three areas come pretty high up on the list:
Firstly, the concept of “perfection” is inherently flawed. No one in the history of time and space has done something that is absolutely perfect – at least not in everybody’s eyes. There will always be someone who finds something “wrong” in what you do – ALWAYS. Perfection looks different to everyone, so to seek it is futile.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t bother to attempt anything – quite the opposite. People do and create great things all the time, and so can you! The key is to recognise the great things you do, rather than your lack of “perfect” things.
Sheryl Sandberg sums it up excellently: “Done is better than perfect”. Now, this quote doesn’t mean we should just give up and produce absolute things that we know don’t reflect our ability. What I take from this is that endless editing and stressing and second-guessing leads to nothing ever getting done. Would you rather finish a great painting and hang it on your wall, or keep throwing paintings away and leaving an empty space because the paintings don’t feel “perfect”?
Cut Toxic Associations
If you have someone (or several someones) in your life who seem to enjoy putting you down, giving you back-handed compliments, or discouraging you from doing the things that make you happy, it might be worth stepping back from them. It could be that they’re not consciously trying to be horrible, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.
Unfortunately, sometimes even our close “friends” can try to keep us feeling low, in an attempt to either make themselves feel better than us, or because they’re worried that if you succeed, you will leave them behind. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cut all ties with this person, but a firm conversation with them may be necessary to establish whether or not you want your relationship to continue. If they are fully aware of what they are doing and refuse to change their behaviour, a clean break might be best for both of you.
Spend your time with people who lift you up; people who don’t view you as a competitor, but can recognise and help you to celebrate your achievements without acting like your success is their failure.
As much as I am painfully aware that this is easier said than done: stop comparing yourself to other people! I’m still working on this one. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, now that it is possible to carefully curate our social media feeds to display only the best, unblemished version of our lives. It’s not reality. And even if it was, just because someone on Instagram appears to have a amazing life doesn’t have any reflection on your own life.
You have your own successes, your own amazing characteristics and traits, your own goals, your own achievements, skills, qualifications, experience; your own unique life that is in no way diminished by someone else living their best life too.
I know it’s not easy.
I mean, I’m 30 years old and I’m still learning.
Maybe we’re not going to have perfect, 100% solid self-esteem every moment of every day, but there are at least a few things we can do to not actively destroy our self-esteem, and maybe even give it a boost every now and then.
Have you sabotaged your own self-esteem? Maybe you have some tips on how we can boost our self-esteem? Let me know in the comments.