To Boost Self-Esteem, Stop Doing Stuff That Makes You Feel Like Crap


You don’t have a boyfriend because…

You let jerks walk all over you because…

You overeat chocolate because…

You are a couch potato because…

You are over your credit limit because…

…you have low self-esteem.

Often the underlying reason cited by others blames self esteem for almost every problem under the sun.  You may have even said to yourself on numerous occasions, “I just don’t feel good about myself.” You question whether your self-esteem is “high enough” as if there is some magical number where if you meet or exceed it, your well-being/health/existence is validated.

Think of all the self-tests you’ve discovered in magazines where you can evaluate where you fall on the self-esteem continuum.

The term, self-esteem, stems from the word ‘esteem’…which connotes a social regard and valuing. Most people falsely believe that adding the “self” in front of esteem takes it out of the social domain and roots it into “one’s foundation for self-regard”…making it an individual asset.

If you have high/good/enough self esteem, you like yourself, you feel that you can meet your goals, you consider yourself a worthy person…and this is suppose to unlock the doors to fabulous relationships/sex lives/great jobs/better body image/more healthy eating or exercise habits and enhance spirituality…i.e., everything positive. Fail in any of these areas, and YOU must have some self-deficit of some sort. You are to blame…you must just not like yourself enough.

What a load of pop-psychology crap.

Here’s the thing with self-esteem. Just because we put the “self” before the esteem, one’s perception of one’s worth or value continues to be socially defined and sculpted. This is why you may feel more capable or the often cited “better about yourself” at work than, say, in your romantic life. What ever social setting you find yourself, the environment is giving you feedback. If the signals are more positive than negative in that setting/relationship, your esteem will be sufficient. If they are more negative, it will be lacking.

The woman who is quick to jump into bed or hook up with a guy may or may not have high or low self-esteem. The guy is likely giving her significantly strong positive feedback, and she is likely feeling good about herself in that moment when the decision is made. Afterward, when she is alone, or that positive feedback is removed, her self-esteem may decrease, because she is getting negative feedback (from her own thoughts or her social culture or her peers) that she is a “slut” or engaging in some unhealthy behavior.

Want to change your self-esteem, change the feedback system. If you tend to have relationships that quickly turn from positive to negative, that isn’t an indication that you suffer from low self-esteem…you just like positive feedback. If you’re sick of hooking up with jerks, find other sources of positive feedback strong enough to engage you, to remind you that you are valuable, worthy, important.

The key here is finding something strong enough…just as strong as that guy buying you a drink and confirming your attractiveness. The substitution must speak to you…and thus is different for every one…but usually it is social in nature. Reading a book or taking a bath isn’t likely to do it. Putting up sticky notes that you “rock” or affirming each morning that “you are beautiful” probably won’t stick. Yes, these tasks may be beneficial, but to really motivate change, you need positive social feedback.

Examples of social positive feedback: smiles from others, compliments, external validation, receiving gifts, other’s asking to spend time with you, the list goes on and on.

So if you think you may have low self esteem…you might just be lonely. Get involved and establish a stronger support system that is primarily positive…

And put those pop-psychology tests in the recycle bin.