The Lies Your Low Self-esteem Will Tell You

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It starts small. Little insults and jabs that people tell themselves that seem harmless and even laughable at first. Like these beauties I told myself in the last 24 hours “I’m such a loser – I forgot my cell at home” – only to find it in the car, stuck between the seat and cup holders for the umpteenth time. I returned back inside the house with a “God, I’m such a loser. I keep getting it stuck between the two thingies.” I followed that up, throughout the day, with: “I hate my knees, they’re so knobby,” “I can’t cook to save my life,” and a few other semi-existentialist, semi-self-conscious gems that I’d rather not rehash.

The problem is, these seemingly minor self-criticisms can grow. Breed. Feed on themselves. If people tell themselves often enough that they are worthless, it starts to become believable. In fact, after analyzing data from nearly 11,000 people who took our Self-esteem Test on Queendom, we discovered that people who criticize themselves several times a day are more likely to:

  • Have low self-esteem overall (score of 43 on a scale of 0 to 100), compared to those who do so occasionally (score of 65) and those who rarely do so (score of 77).
  • Have a low sense of self-worth (score of 44 vs. 68 vs. 81).
  • Have a strong desire for approval from others (score of 59 vs. 42 vs. 30).
  • Feel inadequate or experience thoughts/feelings of never being good enough. For example:
    • 64% ask others for approval before making a decision.
    • 66% believe that they are “worthless and useless.”
    • 57% consider themselves a failure.
    • 51% feel that they will never amount to anything significant.
  • Set unrealistic expectations or excessively high standards for themselves. For example:
    • 54% said that a partial failure is just as bad as a complete failure.
    • 49% said that if they can’t do something perfectly, they would rather not do it.
    • 38% said that failing any one thing makes them a failure as a person.

Our research also reveals that individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to have been diagnosed with depression. Those whose self-esteem is particularly low seem to be the most likely to seek out therapy, which is a good first start.

Here’s a follow-up question I often get when talking to people about self-esteem: “What’s the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence?” Self-confidence is self-esteem in action. It’s a mirror of our internal workings. Self-esteem is so deeply-rooted in our core that it becomes our persona and defines who we are. That’s why I like to call low self-esteem the “silent assassin.” It acts like a virus, spreading and infecting a person’s thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. You start to question yourself – your skills, your ability to succeed, and even your relationships. You start to worry about everything. You become cautious and reluctant to take any risks. Your self-doubt results in decisions that reflect your lack of faith in yourself, like not going for that job, not asking that person out, or not asserting yourself when you should. Once low self-esteem infiltrates your life, it becomes a part of who you are – you start to believe the lies it tells you, and may end up becoming the failure that you think you are.

So here’s my challenge to you all: Spend one week consciously taking note of all the times you discount yourself, even if the self-criticism is said in a joking manner. Once you’ve made a record of how often you do this – and many people will be very surprised at the frequency – make an effort to immediately reword what you think or say in a more positive manner. So, for example, if you find yourself saying “I always make stupid mistakes,” reword it as “I am human and I’m allowed to make mistakes – this is how I learn.” I know it seems rather simplistic, but a lot of people will see a reduction in self-criticism, and an improvement in their self-esteem overall.

Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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7 thoughts on “The Lies Your Low Self-esteem Will Tell You

  1. Dear Queen D,

    I liked your post. Yes, self-sabotage is a big problem.

    Self sabotage is your mind’s way of working against you for no logical reason. Basically, it stems from unconscious beliefs that you are unworthy of happiness and/or success. Low self-esteem is directly linked to self-sabotage because it reinforces those negative thoughts and controls what you believe you can achieve and puts a limit on how much. Self sabotage can be reversed. It just takes figuring out the triggers, implementing the proper tools and consistently changing those negative thought patters.

    For tips on dealing with self–sabotage:
    http://dr-carol.com/2011/03/20/self-sabotage-the-ways-to-defeat-it/

    Thank you
    Dr Carol
    http://dr-carol.com

    • Self-sabotage is a crucial point, because most of the time, we don’t realize we do it. Thank you Dr. Carol for the insight and the tips.

  2. I find the wording curious on one point. You said those who criticize themselves several times a day are more likely to have low self-esteem. Which one do you believe causes the other? It seems plausible that people with low self-esteem are more likely to insult themselves, making low self-esteem the problem more so than criticizing one’s self. Just curious on your thoughts.

    • That’s a good question. I think a person who criticizes themselves already believes that they deserve to be – at some level, they already think they are incompetent. Why? Perhaps if you’re criticized enough times by other people, you’ll start to believe you lack worth. My theory is that the low self-esteem is already established. Someone with a solid self-esteem will not take others’ criticism to heart, nor will they harshly criticize themselves.

  3. I agree, I find that the low self-esteem is the main source of damage and from there the low self-esteem manifests itself in different ways. Such as…. poor body image, eating disorders, self-sabtage, etc.

    http//:dr-carol.com

  4. Recently in answering questions at a mate-finding Site, I have noticed no one else answer a question about self-confidence the way that I have, checking the box for low self-confidence. I have low confidence in myself, yet I view it as being in a different category than low self-esteem. I think highly of myself, but I have low confidence because my abilities are not valued by society very much. I have good accomplishments, yet only I really appreciate them.

  5. Thubry,
    Having done a lot of research on dating websites (and being on a few myself), I can guarantee that a lot of people will try to put their best foot forward – meaning that they won’t be entirely honest about who or how they are. I commend you for being so candid, and I think that’s a strength; you know exactly where you stand and where you want to be.

    There will be someone, some company, that will appreciate your abilities – and the fact that you recognize your accomplishments is already an advantage. You know that you have much to offer. It’s a matter of finding a suitable setting where it will be appreciated, and I’m sure you will find it. Don’t let anyone’s opinion cause you to stray from your inner truth: you know you are an amazing person.

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