Low self-esteem means that you become your own worst critic. Every small mistake you make is a catastrophe. On one hand you demand perfection of yourself, forbid yourself from ever making mistakes and when you do you will condemn yourself for even the smallest of mistakes.
Low self-esteem means you are unforgiving of yourself for:
- Not being as good (successful, happy, attractive etc) as others
- Not measuring up to the standards you set yourself
- Not trying hard enough (even when to others, you are pushing yourself too hard)
When society puts so much in the way of expectation on men, it is no surprise you feel you are not good enough, even going so far as think that you are useless to society, your friend and family unless you are successful. Because you have failed to measure up to societies expectations you therefore feel you are:
- Not deserving of the good fortune that others experience
- Not deserving of rewards
- Not deserving of the kindness, affection and attention from others
Our own perception of ourself leads us to putting up with stuff we wouldn’t normally put up with an in turn, it reinforces our low self-perception: we deserve to be treated like that, we don’t deserve our voice to be heard, when we speak up we are being selfish, we are not putting other’s needs first (this is most common in relationships where you are always expected to be the gentleman and society frowns on you for being a domineering man).
Low self esteem is a deadly perpetuating trap and as I discovered two years ago when working through Melanie Fennell’s book, it is a difficult cycle to break. Yet it can be broken. Though low self-esteem is still crassly misunderstood, there are some simple exercises you can use to challenge these negative thought patterns.
Be Kinder To Yourself
This is easier said than done. After all, you’re whole low self-esteem is based on the foundation of your self-punishment, self-condemnation and self torture. I propose a simple exercise to get you started.
- Write a list of the common statements you use to condemn yourself (“I am stupid”, “I am useless”, “I’m not good enough” etc) three or four should do
- Read them over in your mind until you can remember them. If it is a list of things you tell yourself every day, you won’t have much difficulty remembering them
- Close your eyes and cast an image in your mind of somebody you really care about – could be a best friend, a partner, a child, a parent etc
- Repeat each of those statements in your mind and imagine you are saying them to that person. At the end, note how that made you feel
- Repeat each of those statements in your mind and imagine that person saying them to you. At the end, note how that made you feel
The desired response to step 4 should be: “I can’t imagine being so cruel to that person” and hopefully if that person really does care about you, step 5 should be: “I can’t image that person being so cruel to me”. If you can’t imagine either of those propositions then that should make you begin to question why you are so cruel to yourself.