Has anyone ever said you have low self-esteem? While you might think it’s no big deal when you don’t feel aces about yourself, the reality is that a poor self-image can affect multiple facets of your life.
You must maintain a healthy sense of who you are to avoid slipping into despair. However, that isn’t the only reason to build your confidence. Here’s why self-esteem is important and why you should improve your ego.
What Influences Self-Esteem?
Before you can take action and improve your self-esteem, you have to know what caused you to feel low about yourself. Sometimes, you justifiably feel down when you make an embarrassing mistake, such as including an extra zero in your budget report.
Wallowing in despair won’t help to correct matters. Start by acknowledging your negative feelings, and then examine what you can realistically do to fix the error.
However, many times, low self-esteem results from trauma. Frequently, the cumulative effect of past negative experiences creates a vicious cycle of adverse behaviors that only perpetuate your feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.
For example, researchers associate childhood abuse with a perceived lack of social support as adults. If someone offers to help you, you might suspect them — “Why would they help me, and what do they think they’ll get in return?” — instead of expressing gratitude. Instead of saying, “Hey, thanks,” you snap at them.
Your mistrustful attitude makes other folks less inclined to lend a hand, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might be right in your perception that no one offers to help you — but you can hardly blame them if you chase them away when they try. After the encounter, the guilt you feel over how you behaved only makes you feel worse.
It isn’t unusual for people who experienced trauma as children, adults or both to sabotage themselves. However, to break the cycle, you need to examine your past experiences mindfully and stay in the present moment when dealing with current crises. This process takes enormous emotional energy, so please don’t beat yourself up if you backslide — you’re only human.
As you go through your healing journey, treat yourself the way you would a good friend. Practice self-care by nourishing your physical body with nutritious foods and getting regular exercise. Get enough sleep — a cup of chamomile is fine when you are restless, but scrolling anxiety-producing social media is not.
Develop awareness of when you slip into negative thought patterns and seek to reframe them in more positive ways. Write a list of phrases you can turn to when you notice thoughts like, “I’m such a failure, and nobody likes me.” It might also help keep track of all the times you thought the worst would come to pass — but later didn’t.
Why Self-Esteem Is Important
Why should you take the time to improve your sense of worth, anyway? Here are five reasons why self-esteem is important and how it can influence your life.
1. It Influences Your Overall Happiness
Try as you might, you can’t take a vacation away from yourself. If your head continually spins with thoughts like, “I’m such a loser,” it’s like having a bully take up residence in your brain. Raise the rent and evict that pesky mental tenant.
You can’t stop your thoughts, but you can counter them. It helps to keep a mood journal as you progress on your healing journey. Notice the way your entries become more positive overall when you train yourself to automatically respond to thoughts like, “You idiot,” with, “Hey, I’m an intelligent person who made a mistake, that’s all.”
2. It Impacts Your Romantic Relationships
If you are looking for love, improving your self-esteem can help. Otherwise, you could unconsciously try to drag your partner down to your level — which can leave a healthy individual running for the door.
Unfortunately, another reason why self-esteem is important is its lack can sometimes mean falling for partners who aren’t the healthiest for you. Some people linger in abusive relationships because they fear being alone and believe their partners when they say no one else will want them.
If you are a domestic violence victim, contact a local shelter and ask for help in making a plan. These professionals are trained to know what police sometimes overlook — that your safety is paramount, and breaking free can take more than a restraining order or court-ordered counseling.
3. It Affects Your Career Trajectory
Are you hoping to move up the career ladder? Negative self-esteem can hinder your chances.
Maybe you did the work necessary to earn a raise. You approached your boss with a PowerPoint presentation outlining your impressive contributions to the team in hopes of receiving a coveted promotion. Still, they offer you nothing — not even an explanation of what you need to do to reach the level to which you aspire.
Your instinct might tell you to shrug your shoulders, say “I probably didn’t deserve it, anyway” and get back to the grind. However, you owe it to yourself and your bottom line to ask what you need to do to advance. Factors that have nothing to do with you — such as recessions and corporate mergers — can affect your trajectory.
However, if the reason you missed out on promotion had to do with qualities you can change and improve, then you need to know what they are if you hope to ever sit in the corner office. Screw your courage to the sticking point, go to HR if your immediate supervisor offers little insight and find out what you must do to advance.
4. It Lets You Get More Enjoyment From Life
How many times have you sat on the sidelines when you wanted to get in the game? Low self-esteem can perpetuate itself by making you miss out on opportunities you might otherwise enjoy.
Have you always wanted to join a softball league but worry your fielding will disappoint your teammates? Talk to your parks and recreation department about finding the most laid-back team there is. You’ll never get better at catching pop flies if you don’t take center field.
5. It Helps You Feel Good About Yourself
Our trips around the sun are limited. If you talk to nearly any older individual, they’ll tell you they regret the chances they didn’t take more than those they did. Having low self-esteem can keep you from seizing this glorious life by the horns.
If you think you don’t deserve to feel good, ask yourself why not. You probably haven’t murdered anyone or started any wars — what makes you beyond redemption? Even if you did some pretty lousy things in your past, each day’s a new opportunity to start fresh. Look at your mistakes as lessons learned and feel proud of your wisdom.
Self-Esteem Affects Your Whole Life
Why is self-esteem important? It affects every avenue of your life. Feeling better about yourself can make everything brighter.