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Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

    Some common symptoms are:

    • Unable to trust your own opinion
    • Always overthinking
    • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
    • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
    • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

    Some lesser-known symptoms:

    Being a workaholic

    At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward. It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

    Overachieving or underachieving

    Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents. However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

    What are the causes of low self-esteem?[1]

    Most of the time it stems from our childhood.

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    Negative early experience that leads to low self-esteem:

    • Frequent punishment
    • Frequent neglect
    • Chronic abuse
    • Harsh parental standards
    • Being bullied/boycotted
    • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
    • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
    • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

    Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

    What is “Bottom Line” and how does it affect your self-esteem

    “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

    When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

    That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

    How does “Bottom Line” determine your “Rules for Living

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    Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

    How low self-esteem affects every aspect of your life

    It makes you confuse love with low self-esteem

    Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly. When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

    It makes you have a lower hand in the relationship

    As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for. Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

    It makes your employers feel that you’re not talented

    People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves. During meeting they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

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    It can lead to depression

    Over time low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers[3]. Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

    So how to improve self-esteem?

    As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

    Ignore all those “positivity” advice

    Very often we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

    Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

    To improve self-esteem, you need to focus elsewhere

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    “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly”[4].

    Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

    When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

    According to psychologist Abraham Maslow[5], to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it. Or you can refer to the graph below first:

    5 levels of human basic needs

      To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you to focus on:

      • Deep connection with loved ones
      • A healthy body
      • Sense of control
      • A meaningful life purpose
      • Recognition and respect from others
      • Sense of security
      • Creativity

      As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

      To start with, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

      1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
      2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
      3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
      4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
      5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
      6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
      7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
      8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
      9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
      10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

      Reference

      More by this author

      Chloe Chong

      Social Media Expert

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2018

      7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

      7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

      When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

      You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

      1. Connecting them with each other

      Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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      It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

      2. Connect with their emotions

      Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

      For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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      3. Keep going back to the beginning

      Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

      On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

      4. Link to your audience’s motivation

      After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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      Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

      5. Entertain them

      While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

      Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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      6. Appeal to loyalty

      Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

      In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

      7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

      Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

      Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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