If you live with social anxiety you might wonder how to overcome low self esteem.
What is self-worth? According to Merriam-Webster, it is a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect. A lot of people who are socially anxious fail to believe this about themselves.
Does this sound like you?
You believe that everyone else in the world is more deserving of respect than you.
Say, for example, you accomplish something really great. Maybe you get a good grade in school or are hired for a new job. Do you then start to downplay everything about yourself that may have contributed to that outcome?
Perhaps you tell yourself it was easy to get good grades. Anyone could have done it. Or, that job, they just hired you because they needed someone. It’s not that there was anything special about you that got you hired.
When you have an achievement, you see it as not reflective of you in any way, but just due to luck, which further lowers your self-worth. What would you think/say/do if someone else accomplished the same thing that you do?
More importantly, what are you getting out of denying your self-worth? Why are you holding yourself back from learning how to overcome low self esteem?
Fear That You Won’t Measure Up
There’s a reason why you are doing it. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of people expecting more from you? Afraid that people will discover you are not really that wonderful after all (also known as Imposter Syndrome)?
What is holding you back from learning how to overcome low self esteem?
While it may not seem that relevant to social anxiety, it’s actually a key part of the solution to this problem. Unless you were socially anxious from birth, somewhere along the way you lost the ability to view yourself objectively. Do you know when that point was? Can you pick it out from your past?
Perhaps there was an event during which you let yourself down. A speech in fourth grade where everyone laughed. The time you did not get the job and you did make a fool of yourself in the interview. Do those moments define you? Do you have to keep telling yourself you are that person?
Failure to Be Your Authentic Self
The second reason you might be denying your own self-worth is because of a failure to be your authentic self. Somehow along the way your social anxiety became entwined with your view of yourself. The need to escape the spotlight became part of a strategy of down-playing yourself and your achievements. Because of this, you’ve never had the experience of being your authentic self in relationships.
When you ask for the respect of others, you are actually showing them respect too. When you say “no” because you don’t have time to do something, you are allowing the other person the chance to find someone else to do the job. When you tell someone how you are feeling (or how they’ve hurt you), you are giving them a roadmap of how to make you happy in the future.
Self-worth means showing respect for yourself and expecting respect from others. This links to assertiveness as well as showing the same respect to others in kind. So, working on your self-worth is a proposition that helps everyone.
How to Overcome Low Self Esteem
How can we work past these blocks? What we are really talking about when we discuss low self-worth is that you don’t feel like you deserve respect. Your self-worth is so low that it feels strange when you try to picture yourself as a person who deserves respect. It feels wrong.
So, like with anything, we need to take baby steps.
Step 1. Every morning, write down three positive things about yourself.
Step 2. Make a list of things that would make you feel better about yourself. This could be anything, from as small as making your bed every morning or buying a new outfit, to as big as getting a new job or buying a house. Order the list from smallest to biggest. Each day, do one thing from the list beginning with the smallest. Once you’ve achieved an item, cross it off and move on to the next.
Step 4. Write down three problems in your life. They might be about social anxiety or something more general. Now, pretend you are a good friend offering advice. Tell yourself what you think you should do to solve the problem. Notice how you speak differently to yourself when you take on the role of a friend.
Step 5. Write down every unique bad thing you say to yourself. Keep it in a password-protected Word doc or a note on your phone. Get tired of making this list. Make it easier on yourself by not saying bad things to yourself so that you have less to write on the list.
That’s it! Do you have any tips on how to overcome low self esteem? Feel free to share them in the comment section.