Did you know that 85% of us struggle with low self-esteem?
This lack of confidence can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. While some sources of low self-esteem are deep-rooted, others are the product of bad habits.
Whether you struggle with negative feelings or you’re concerned about a loved one, take the time to read through this list of self-esteem killing habits.
Could one (or more) of these be contributing to the problem?
1. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Do you want to lose weight, land your dream job, or climb Mount Everest?
Those are all amazing goals. But in order to achieve them, you’ve got to break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
If you try to lose 40 pounds in 4 weeks or expect to make a million dollars right out of college, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. The result? Your self-esteem takes a major hit–and you quickly give up on your goal.
Before you set out to climb Everest, try hitting the gym regularly and competing in some local 10Ks. Little by little, you can work toward your ultimate goal (and feel great about yourself in the process).
2. Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the fastest ways to kill your confidence is to compare yourself to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Research has already proved that kids today can experience low self-esteem from spending too much time on social media. The same is true of adults.
Shining snapshots of our friends’ lives make it seem like they have it all. Soon we get into the mindset that everyone is doing “better” than we are–better vacations, better homes, better clothes.
We can also fall into the bad habit of comparing ourselves to colleagues at work. Or maybe you have a sibling or close friend who seems more successful in business or in their personal life.
If you want to improve your self-esteem, stop focusing on what everyone else has accomplished. You’ll never get around to accomplishing your own goals!
3. Not Forgiving Yourself
Do you spend a lot of time dwelling on the past? Do you focus more on mistakes you made than on what you hope to achieve tomorrow, next week, or 10 years from now?
Letting go can be a challenge, especially if you feel you’ve made some serious mistakes. But dwelling on those mistakes indefinitely will only lead to feelings of blame, regret, and failure.
The result? You get stuck in a pattern of negative thinking, and this self-defeatist attitude prevents you from moving forward.
Let yourself off the hook. Learn from your mistakes and be determined to put them behind you. Then read some self-esteem quotes, dust yourself off, and focus on (a more positive) future.
4. Letting Fear Dictate Your Life
As FDR famously said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important.”
We’re all afraid of something. It’s part of being human. When you have low self-esteem, though, it’s easy to let this fear hold you back.
It’s often easier to say, “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t know how to do that.” When fear rules your life, you use it as an excuse not to try anything new. The more time that passes without working toward any goals, the lower your self-esteem will sink.
Think about this: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Travel to a foreign place? Start your own business? Learn a new language or skill?
Whatever you have in mind, learn to rephrase that negative thinking with a more positive thought. Instead of saying, “It’s too hard,” try, “How can I make this happen? What’s the first step?”
5. Trying to Please Everybody (All the Time)
Not having personal or professional boundaries is another sure way to lower your self-esteem. If you’re a people pleaser who never says “no” to anyone, you’ll eventually run out of time for yourself.
When that happens, you’ll feel as if your life is spiraling out of control. What’s important to you will be shoved to the backburner and (you guessed it) your self-esteem will suffer.
Yes, there will be occasions when you need to work overtime or do a favor for a friend. But when it becomes a habit, you’ll end up frustrated, scatter-brained, and stressed out.
Break this habit by learning how to say “no.” Practice in front of a mirror if you have to. Set clear boundaries about your time with family members and work colleagues–and then stick to them.
6. Physical or Mental Laziness
Lacking confidence in yourself and the way you look? The surest way to perpetuate that cycle is to sit on the couch and do nothing about it.
Research proves that exercise improves mood and self-esteem while fighting social withdrawal tendencies. It also provides a rush of feel-good endorphins and leaves you with a great sense of accomplishment.
The same can be said for not exercising your mind. If you’re feeling down, the easiest thing to do is plop down in front of the television or mindlessly scroll through your phone.
Even when you’re tired, take a few minutes to actively engage your brain. Read a few pages of a book (an actual book) or spend a few minutes practicing a new skill. You might also try meditation or mindfulness and focus your attention on positive thoughts.
7. Constantly Criticizing Yourself
A final bad habit many with low self-esteem fall victim to is negative self-talk.
How many times a day do you think something like:
- “You’re too fat.”
- “You’ll never be good enough.”
- “You’re such an idiot.”
- “You can’t do anything right.”
If these phrases are a daily part of your thinking pattern, guess what? You’ll believe them–and your self-esteem will become even worse.
Work hard to eliminate such negative thoughts from your mind. Replace them with positive, reinforcing thoughts like, “I respect my body” or “I did well on that task.”
Improve Low Self-Esteem Today
As you can see, bad habits play a large role in low self-esteem.
If you identified any of these habits in yourself, take action to cultivate a more positive mindset. You’re sure to see good results if you do.
Looking for more advice on improving your self-esteem? Click here.