It seems many of us are on a near-constant mission to fix our self-esteem issues. We read self-help books, set good intentions, and leave inspiring notes on our mirrors. And yet there still seems to be something missing. When that's the case, it could be that you're accidentally ruining your self-confidence, without even realizing it.
I say you don't even realize it because no one wakes up in the morning and says, "OK great, time to feel horrible about myself!" And yet, it still happens. Self-confidence is hard to come by, and it seems there are a million and one things out to knock it down, or ruin it all together.
And yet it's still a worthy goal, as a healthy dose of self-confidence really does make life easier. "People with a strong sense of self-esteem believe in themselves, and succeed because they believe they can. They also tend to have healthier relationships," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. Oh, and they actually believe all those mirror notes and self-help books.
Getting things going in the right direction will obviously require a lot of work. So it's best to start by fixing up what's sabotaging your confidence. Here are some of the little thoughts and actions that might be getting in your way.
1. You Always Expect The Worst
If you've been through some bad situations, then it's totally fair to have a sort of grim outlook on life. And yet, sticking to this mindset for too long can really bring your confidence down. Speaking about people who do just that, Martinez says, "They take one thing that went wrong and apply it to all future situations, assuming they will go wrong, too." If that sounds familiar, then it may be time to adopt a sunnier outlook.
2. You Rarely Figure Things Out On Your Own
Think back to the last time something went wrong — you were lost, the toilet clogged, the power went out in your apartment. Did you immediately panic and call a friend for help? Or did you first try to figure things out on your own? There's something to be said for taking a moment to chill and think problems through. And when you fix them all by your lonesome? Well, it feels pretty darn good.
3. You Say Things Like "I'll be happy when..."
If you're like me, then you have a list of life goals a mile long. And that's a good thing. What's not good, however, is thinking it's impossible to be happy until they're all achieved. "Why can’t you be happy now? Your circumstances don’t mean anything until you assign a label to them," said Claire Campanella on HuffingtonPost.com. "You can choose to be content, happy, and grateful for what you have in this present moment." Very true.
4. You Don't Express Your Personal Style
Your style might be limited to the ol' "business casual" rule in the office. Following that is totally understandable. And yet there are ways to express yourself through clothes that doesn't involve breaking any rules. The moment you figure out your own person style, and ways to incorporate it into your daily life, will be the moment you really feel self-confident.
5. Compliments Freak You Out
It's not necessary to gush over every compliment you receive. But turning them down (or worse, disagreeing with them) can slowly chip away at your self-confidence. "Accepting a compliment would mean admitting to yourself that you're great, and that's not something that you're willing to do," said Richelle Meiss on Gurl.com. Clearly denying your awesomeness isn't good for your self-esteem, so try working on accepting compliments as they come.
6. You Have Zero Downtime
Sitting on your butt and doing nothing is a sign of self-respect, whether you think so or not. "If you don’t reset, you’ll unravel," said Campanella. "Quality rest isn’t a luxury; it’s crucial to good health and good mood. Give yourself permission to truly relax and re-energize every week." Everyone else's demands, wants, and needs can wait. I promise.
7. You Blame Yourself For External Issues
Do you ever feel a rush of panic, or some hardcore guilt, when plans don't turn out well? Even if you had nothing to do with the problem, you still feel bad? Well, that's a sign that you're a compassionate person. But it's also a sign that you may be blaming yourself for factors beyond your control, says Martinez. A little healthy separation can really save your self-esteem.
8. You Apologize 24/7
If apologies are your go-to response for everything, do me a favor and take a second to think about how saying sorry makes you feel. Are you saying sorry out of polite reflex, or are you apologizing all day long because you don't feel good about yourself? If it's the latter, try to limit how many times you drop the word in a day, and work on saving it for only when it's actually necessary. "Stand up straight, look the person in the eye, and say I apologize," suggested Lindsey Stanberry on Refinery29.com. "But only do it when you’re truly sorry."
9. You Only Think Negative Thoughts
You know that little voice inside your head? The one that narrates your day? Well, that's known as self-talk, and it can really affect your confidence. "Those thoughts can be positive and esteem building, or they can be negative and esteem ruining," says Martinez. "People get so used to thinking a certain way, or telling themselves something negative over and over. They do not realize the way that it is chipping away at their self confidence." That's why it's necessary to practice some positive self-talk. Once you switch your thoughts from negative to positive, you'll notice it makes all the difference in the world.
10. You Take Social Media Way Too Seriously
If you find yourself comparing your vacation, apartment, style, or job against the masses online, then it may be time to step back. Social media is supposed to be fun, inspiring, and informative. Not something that makes you feel bad.
11. You Hold Yourself To Impossible Standards
While it's obviously a good thing to have high standards for yourself, it is possible that they can get too high. And when that happens, you may be crossing over into self-esteem-ruining territory. As Meiss said, "It's one thing to have goals, and it's another to have unrealistic expectations of yourself."
So give yourself a break, in more ways the one. Pay attention to the little ways you may be accidentally sabotaging your self-confidence. And if something feels off, take the necessary steps to fix it.
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