All of us have those moments where we feel down, but if you constantly feel negatively about yourself, it might be time to take charge. It's important to ditch any habits that could be hurting your self-esteem, as what we do daily and how we think can play a role in how we feel about ourselves. Taking the time to cultivate healthy behaviors and productive ways of thinking can have a big impact on our self-worth.
"How we treat ourselves is a direct reflection of how much we value ourselves, and how much we value ourselves often determines how we treat ourselves," says Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. over email. "In this way, we form life-enhancing or life-degrading spirals. If they engage in healthy self-care habits, they will not only feel good, but proud of themselves for doing so. If they engage in poor self-care habits, they are likely to harm themselves, plus feel inadequate and ashamed of themselves."
It might take some time, but cultivating new ways of thinking can help us get to where we want to be emotionally. To feel the best about yourself and build up your self-worth, try to avoid these 11 bad habits that could be hurting your self-esteem.
1. Comparing Yourself To Others
"Comparison is toxic and hurts our self-esteem because we believe the myth that our body, our intellect, or another quality we posses is less valuable than another persons," says Jess Weiner, Confidence Expert and CEO of Talk to Jess over email. Studies on social comparison out of Stanford University found that unhappy people feel confident when they've learned they've performed well on a task, but when they found out that their peers did better, that confidence diminishes. Focus on yourself and your goals, not on others.
2. Not Having A Plan
"Regardless of what time you get up in the morning it is important to wake up with a plan for the day," says Weiner. "It can be a frustrating feeling to go to sleep each night feeling as if nothing was accomplished during the day. A plan can help you kickstart your day in the right direction."
3. Trying To Please Everyone
A recent news story from ABC pointed out that people pleasers are often the target of bullying. "Say no to the things you do not want to do," says Weiner. "It might sound counterproductive, but when we say no to something we do not want to do we are saying yes to ourself. This reinforces our own inner voice and our thoughts, and it also helps us stay genuine to who we are."
4. Ending Tasks Early
"Not starting or finishing tasks or taking risks because we fear we won’t be successful [ can hurt our self-esteem]," says Koenig. "When we let our fear rule us, we stay stagnant, and our world becomes smaller and smaller. Each time we don’t do something because we’re afraid of failure, it reinforces the idea that we are failures."
5. Engaging In Negative Self-Talk
"We are what we tell ourselves we are," says Koenig. "By constantly putting ourselves down, we come to believe that we are not worthwhile or good enough." Ending that negative self-talk and switching to more positive thoughts can help fight off anxiety and depression, diminish your stress, and even improve your physical health, according to Mayo Clinic.
6. Treating Others Poorly
"By treating others poorly, we drive people away, or only surround ourselves with others who have poor self-esteem," says Koenig. "Moreover, when we treat others poorly, it makes us feel badly about ourselves, which lowers our self-esteem."
7. Turning To Substances To Cope
Abusing drugs, food, alcohol or engaging in other addictive behaviors when we are feeling down can seem like a quick fix, but it doesn't get to the root of the problem. "If we never experience the blues and the blahs, we never learn to handle them, that they pass, or that we can get through them," says Koenig. "We never learn the skills that [we have to] tolerate, learn from, or rebound from difficult emotions."
8. Always Feeling Like The Victim
"Having a victim mindset disempowers us," says Koenig. "Telling ourselves that we are helpless and put upon not only is inaccurate, but gives us no incentive to try. We only become empowered by breaking out of the victim mindset and proving it wrong."
9. Sitting On The Couch
Spending all your time sedentary and active won't do much for how you feel about yourself or your body. According to research from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise can help with self-esteem and social withdrawal while also improving mood.
10. Spending Too Much Time Online
A study from the University of Salford found that 50 percent of people say social media makes their lives worse, particularly because their self-esteem takes a hit when they compare their accomplishments to others online. Spend less time on social networks and focus on yourself, and when you do browse your news feed, remember that others are selectively putting out the best versions of themselves.
11. Holding A Grudge — Against Yourself
"Practice self-forgiveness," says Weiner. "Remember that while we have relationships with our family and friends, a very important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. It isn’t about being perfect, but we can all remember that we have the power to change."
Good self-esteem requires some work, but having a healthy relationship with yourself pays of in the end.
Images: Pixabay (12)