Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

Overcoming low self-esteem is a matter of learning to be rid of a painful habit. “Low self-esteem” is too mild an expression to describe its inflicted misery. Esteem is, after all, a “feeling of delighted approval and liking.” People esteem ability - to fly a plane, swim the channel, or, even, the capacity to deflate an arrogant shop assistant. If these things don't come easily to you, you can hardly esteem yourself in these areas.

Self-esteem is also transitory – a brief enjoyment of the delight of doing something well. Any little thing can deflate your self-esteem. But, a low self esteem is starkly different. It goes on and on. It is habitual and punishing self-criticism, which can darken every aspect of your life. In this article, a low self esteem is defined as a habit of painful self-criticism.

Some timid children suffer low self esteem. They may grow up and succeed in life, since success in most jobs does not need killer instincts. Job competence alone usually takes quiet and soft spoken people to the top. But, in spite of career success, the low self-esteem of timid people may persist. It is much worse for the less fortunate. For every success story, there are so many ordinary workers. Low self-esteem can punish them with crippling reminders of being failures. For all these afflicted people, effecive mind control is possible. A few mental and physical exercises can still such habitual self-criticism.

  • If you began life as a timid child, bullied in school, a low self esteem may trouble you, even though you are successful in your career. But if you are in an ordinary job, the feeling of being a failure will be worse. But, low self esteem can be overcome.
  • Overcoming low self esteem will not make you the life of the party. You will just be comfortable being who you are.
  • Margaret was bullied in life and had a negative self perception, considering herself to occupy the lowest end of the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale.
  • High self esteem people dominate through many inborn confrontational skills. They bully timid children.
  • Timidity is not a conscious choice. It is the system, which decides to speak.
  • Emotions speak. They set the behavior of the mind. A defeated animal sneaks away, its tail between its legs.
  • Negative emotions are sustained by neural circuits in the amygdala, which remembers and cycles negativity.
  • Mind control steps can still the amygdala and make a person comfortable in company.
  • Without tension, Margaret can be comfortable at parties, being a good listener.
  • A feeling of incompetence happens, when a person with low self esteem is in an ordinary job. Change, if possible, to a job you like. Otherwise, there are ways to to pay attention to the job and be happy with it.
  • There will always be bullies. Try to avoid them, or just accept them as a part of life.
  • Mindfulness exercises can make each moment in life a happy one.

Overcoming low self-esteem will not work miracles. It will not convert quiet people into extroverts. But, it will still turmoil. They will feel comfortable about not being “the life of the party.” They can go on to discover their hidden talents. Every individual has unique abilities. These can be exploited. Till you get an opportunity to do that, a few motivation techniques can help you to forget your failures and do your best. Follow the methods suggested in these pages to happily overcome low self-esteem.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Negative Self Perception
Margaret was constantly teased by her classmates and elder brothers. She came to feel she was inferior to other people. Her emotional responses to those early cat calls burned this conviction into her system. Psychologists usually regard Margaret's essential shyness to be an enduring personality characteristic. She was not built to be a bully. But her low self-esteem made her forget the many instances, when she did well and was praised. For her, any praise appeared false and she constantly felt unworthy.

Margaret assesses herself to be at the lowest end of the Rosenberg self-esteem scale. She believes she is no good; that she has done nothing to be proud of; that she is useless; she has no respect for herself; she believes she is a failure. Naturally, she avoids company. Her painful emotional focus blinds her to her own good qualities - the things she can do well, the times she has contributed and those parts of her behavior, which deserve respect.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – The Enduring Characteristic
One reason why low self-esteem persists is that its root cause endures. Quiet people lack the skills to deal with aggressive people. Early in life, aggressive high self esteem people keep winning the competition for supremacy among equals in the school yard. These pushy extroverts possess a fearsome advantage. They are born with the right tools - loud voices, aggressive natures, innate humor, or dogged persistence. They win innumerable daily battles and reach the top of the social hierarchy. Their youthful cruelty in the school yard inflicts the enduring emotional pain of low self esteem on timid children.

The affected children may become rich and powerful later in life. Money, or executive power may enable them to dominate subordinates. But, such people lack the killer instincts needed to win in confrontations with equals. They tend to lose these “novice vs. master” battles. So, the low self-esteem mechanism keeps corroding the system. It is not usually changed with wealth and power, or with positive affirmations. It is worse for those who have not achieved career success. For them, the pain becomes more intense with passing years. Punishing self criticism goes on and on.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Not A Conscious Choice
Margaret is uncomfortable in company. The situation is aggravated by her shyness. Being unable to share common jokes and comments, she feels tongue tied and awkward in company. In reality, she cannot “will herself” to be outgoing and talkative. Consider the problem. She cannot control her complex subconscious processes.

These routines need to work with lightning speed before she can utter a word in response to a taunt. They should formulate a witty response, paraphrase it into words, select the right words from a vocabulary of thousands of words and place them in grammatical order. Then these systems must initiate motor impulses to control the timing and tenor of her delivered voice. All these things must happen before she responds. If Margaret is tongue tied, it is because mechanisms, over which she has no conscious control, have decided to remain silent. Her reticence is not her conscious choice.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Recalled Memories Respond
It is your mind, which decides to speak. Your brain stores memories of evolutionary experiences from millions of years. It remembers the sights, sounds and experiences of a lifetime. It stores the coded memories of years of habitual activities. These are astronomically large memory stores. As an example, if the DNA codes in the human body were written into 500 page books, those tomes will fill the Grand Canyon 50 times over!

Your mind recalls responses from a similarly large memory store. Over the years, the high self-esteem extroverts assemble vast memories of successful social exchanges. Sadly, her painful school yard experiences form Margaret's memory store, making her motor system freeze her to avoid more pain. She cannot consciously make the system deliver witty replies or gracious words. It evaluates its own assembled memories and remains frozen.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Emotions Speak
Margaret's actions are controlled by her emotions – an evolutionary control system developed by nature. Emotions compete with rationality for control in her historic triune brain, where a wise prefrontal region coexists with lower level mammalian and reptilian systems. It is her mammalian brain, which punishes her with low self esteem. It dominates her habitual social strategy, casting her in the role of a social outcast. Her feeble efforts to resist aggression keep failing. Her opponents are stronger, or nastier in their verbal responses. She feels defeated by life. A defeated animal bows its head and creeps away, its tail between its legs. Its emotions drive it to avoid more pain. Every muscle in its body is controlled by its fear of confrontation. In Margaret's case, inner voices chide her for being a failure. The emotion eliminates all thoughts of her many successes and colors her view black.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – The Multiplier Effect
Margaret's pain is intensified by her internal systems. Early in life, her mirror neuron network made her intensely aware of the scorn and contempt of her school mates. Eisenberger's research at UCLA suggests activity in the neural pain circuits, when a person suffers social rejection. Her system also contains a mechanism, which has a multiplier effect on distress. For our ancestors in the jungle, being observed could mean the possibility of instant death. With civilization and culture, the danger of instant death has faded, but the shy person's system continues to initiate rising discomfort from observing eyes. It was acceptable for Margaret to be taunted by her brother at home. But, those same taunts, while being observed by many in the school yard, made her want to die. Countless emotional experiences recorded such fear relationships into her amygdalae.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – The Amygdala
The amygdalae are organs in the brain, which enable animals to remember and avoid pain. Lifelong “Speed dial (LTP) circuits” within them respond to the possibility of pain with fear signals. Those signals prepare the body for instant evasive action. Adrenalin increases to prepare the body for a flight or freeze response. Heart beats increase to improve blood supply. Blood pressure rises and breathing changes. Acidity increases in the stomach. The excretory system prepares to clear toxin. While these actions have relevance for frantic flight in the jungle, these visceral activities merely fill Margaret with despair. Her voice circuits scold her for not doing enough to win her battles. Low self-esteem stresses both her body and mind.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Effective Mind Control
The neural signals, which cause Margaret's low self-esteem follow logical paths. Her system recognizes images, which remotely link to her past pain, causing her despair. These signals can be stilled through purely mechanical intervention. She can learn to relax her muscles instantly and to still her visceral responses. She can learn to quiet the habitual instincts, which cause her tension in company. Themind control tips in this website suggest ways to still them through simple mechanical exercises. She does not need to argue with her mind. The opinion of people about her is irrelevant. It will always keep changing. They may appreciate her in the morning and pour scorn on her in the evening. A still mind will recognize the flighty opinions of people as being irrelevant. Mindfulness meditation can enable her to enjoy the small things in life. Overcoming low self-esteem, she can learn to be calmly comfortable in company.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Be Comfortable
When fear is stilled, her rational brain will replace the anxiety of low self-esteem with “unconditional self-acceptance and other-acceptance.” She will know that “Life is like that.” In spite of all her success in life, she lacks the loud voice, aggressive outlook, innate humor, or the dogged persistence, which she can use to win in social confrontation. She is weak in the art of social confrontation with equals, or superiors with high self-esteem. Her innate nature cannot be changed. She is unlikely to return with a sharp put down, or to become the life of the party. But being comfortable, she will contribute when she clearly has something to say. Overcoming the pain of low self-esteem is a matter of accepting herself as a quiet, soft spoken person. After all, high self-esteem is not a wonder either. It is known to lead quite often to frustration and violence.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Avoidance Of Tension
Margaret will not need to fear that her tension will "spoil" a party. People usually become uncomfortable if they sense tension. They have mirror neurons, which “mirror” the behavior of others in company. Those neurons support the generation of identical emotions within a group. Tension in one animal is conveyed quickly throughout the herd. It is a survival mechanism. So, effectively, the tensions of a self critical person will also transmit to the group, and lower spirits all round. Instead of being a “wet blanket,” when apprehension is calmly stilled, the same comfort will raise the spirit of the group. Margaret becomes a comfortable listener, leaving the extroverts to enjoy a “great party.”

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – A Feeling Of Incompetence
Many successful people have a low sense of self-esteem, but do not feel incompetent. But, there are many ordinary and hardworking people, who suffer the feeling of incompetence. People are basically motivated to work. Imitating their parents, ordinary people make traditional, or accidental career choices. A person becomes a shop assistant, because her parents have been the same. But, their salaries barely meet their food, shelter and clothing needs. They often live with the fear of losing their jobs. Cyclic labor turnover prevents them from enjoying steadfast work companionship. Such people lack a sense of fulfillment, being aware of their lowly contributions to society. In comparison with their successful relatives and friends, they feel incompetent. The answer is to do a good job, or to enjoy the job.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Find Your Niche
Successful people discover and follow their areas of strength, without wasting time in jobs where they are weak. Do you have an area of excellence? Are there a few things you can do better than others? The legendary management guide Peter Drucker defined excellence as the ability to easily do something, which others find difficult. If you lack enthusiasm in your current job, look around for a job, which can be more satisfying. Different objectives thrill different people. The signals, which trigger pleasure for a person are said to be set before the age of nine. History could interest a child, who was once thrilled by the vision of an emperor's throne in a museum. Such exciting early visions can trigger abiding interests in subjects like history, art, or engineering. Discover the things which excite you. Self awareness can prevent you from being tied to tradition and dull habit.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Learn On The Job
Very few people are blessed with the good fortune to work enthusiastically in a field they love. Millions of people are forced to work on dull routines, where the work bores them to tears. If you do not enjoy your work, but have no other option, are you going to let your dissatisfaction destroy your health and happiness? Instead of being miserable, look around and see how you can improve your performance. How does your work help your customer and the business? Study the history and practices in the field. Read of new developments. You will find that as you pay more attention to your job, it will become easier and more interesting. While you can keep looking for a better opening, you will find that the skills you learned will always help you later in life.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Bullies
There are situations, where bullies win. You are member of a committee, where a domineering member takes over and manages affairs. Quiet people find it difficult to overcome their innate reserve and respond suitably in such situations. Such committees, with members who do not contribute, are fated to be flawed. It is better to avoid situations, where you feel you cannot contribute your mite. If you are unavoidably in such situations, calmly accept reality and do whatever is possible within your limitations. But, don't let your helplessness bother you. Loudness never makes up for substance and a calm approach will keep you ready for an opportunity, which will come one day.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – A Happy Life
Happy survival is a person's greatest achievement. The famed psychiatrist Frankl writes that simple objectives helped people to survive even the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. Feelings of being a failure become irrelevant, when you still emotions and take joy in little things. Lacking a high self-esteem is an advantage too, because a humble perception fits you better into society. Be glad that you are quiet and soft spoken, without the problems of the aggressive extrovert. Wherever you are, mindfulness living can help you to enjoy the many small blessings in life. The best epitaph for life is that you lived it happily.

This page was last updated on 01-Jan-2014



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NEED MORE?

For my peace of mind, I earmarked 20 minutes for meditation on the terrace. With my eyes closed, I sense my hands on the chair and feel the numbness in my feet.

I feel my breath flowing through my nose, my throat, my chest and my stomach. I can hear the chirping of birds, the phut phut of auto rickshaws, the occasional roar of a truck and the insistent hooting of horns.

When I open my eyes, I see a pale moon over two hundred thousand miles away. I see the nuclear fires, blazing for millions of years in the pale globe of the setting sun. A star millions of miles away in space.

I can see green shoots coming up on a tree, watch the dives and swoops of birds, the great circles of the hawks and flocks of birds flying home for the night.

Diffused light from the sun reflects off a parrot on the tree and enters my eye through a pinhole opening. I sense the bustling mood of the bird, even though it is smaller than a drop of water in my eyes.

All these things are seen and felt by me in a few brief minutes. In the distance, is the head of a man seeming to be no bigger than a pea. Yet, that head too sees and feels such things. Ten million people in this great city see and feel in ten million ways.

My mind wanders to a misty view of postwar London; an exciting glimpse of Disneyland. An awed view of Tiananmen Square. The looming Himalayan ranges. My mind takes me to distant galaxies.

It carries me into the heart of millions of invisible neurons, where electrical charges flash thousands of times a second powering my contemplation. I see the campaigns of Julius Caesar and Alexander. I feel the longings of Jehangir.

Already my mind has taken me to palaces, battlefields and even the stars. And yet, the 20 minutes hang heavily on me. If I lost everything, but can just see and feel, in just a few brief minutes, my mind can travel the world, or imagine the cosmos.

Life has already blessed me with over twenty million waking minutes. I have an infinity of time on my hands. Have I a right to expect more from life?

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Joe Glen USA.

COMMENT:
As a clinical therapist, I have found your site very useful!
I love it. ...
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