Low self-esteem can be manifest in many different ways. Many people lack awareness of their low self-esteem, and engage in defense mechanisms to cope. Low self-esteem leads to a poor quality of life. I hope you can derive insights from this post, and gain awareness about your evaluations of your own worth. Becoming aware of having self-esteem issues and wanting to improve on that is such a brave act!
Sometimes, low self-esteem leads to social withdrawal. In these situations, self-awareness is usually present; this insight makes it easier for that person to build up healthy self-esteem, with consistent help and support! But we also know that some individuals with low self-esteem do not withdraw. Instead, people may try to cope with low self-esteem by “inflating” themselves externally, such as by boasting. They may seek attention from others, and they may often need something or someone to prove their identity in order to feel secure.
Sometimes, people have to use objects, materials, social status, or wealth to prove their identity.
Sometimes, people may be tempted to tell others about how great they are, in terms of their career, assets, intellect, or physical appearance. They may desire compliments so much that they would actually ask for them, or they would keep showing off until a compliment is given.
These behaviours are often driven by low self-esteem. It is a sign of confidence to share, but it is a sign of insecurity to boast.
In some disturbing cases, low self-esteem can cause people to behave bitterly or cruelly. The feeling of smallness or weakness inside can sometimes cause people to attack others, in an attempt to assert influence or authority—it is a desperate scramble for power, from a position which feels powerless inside.
Arrogance is used by the weak, while kindness is used by the strong. (Hans F Hamen)
Helping others is one of the most wonderful, healthy things that a person can do! But sometimes low self-esteem can cause us to be a “people pleaser” too much, so that we become passive or unable to stand up for ourselves authoritatively.
Bitterness and Jealousy
Low self-esteem can prevent us from feeling genuinely happy for others’ happiness, achievement, or beauty. Instead, the negative feelings we may have for ourselves cause us to just compare with others, and as a result feel even more inadequate or inferior.
True confidence has no room for jealousy and envy. When you know you are great, you have no reason to hate. (Author Unknown)
And we often find out that the things that people brag about are not something that they actually feel very proud of. A confident, billionaire does not need to tell other people that he or she is wealthy! A very confident, attractive woman does not need to tell people that she is very pretty, or ask others to compliment her!
When we have healthier self-esteem, there is no need for boasting! Achievement or beauty is already self-evident, and it does not even need to be mentioned. In fact, when an accomplished person is humble, it only increases their stature even further!
“A frog at the bottom of a well has only a limited view of the sky.”
This is a Chinese idiom that conveys the idea that boastfulness is often caused by a limited perspective, and unhappy life circumstances. Let us always emphasize the need to ask ourselves if we are stuck in a well! And if we are stuck, then we need to make a plan to climb out!
If you have genuine kindness or compassion, then when someone gets something or has more success, you are able to rejoice in their good fortune. For a person who is committed to compassion practice and a genuine sense of concern for others’ well-being, then you will rejoice in others’ good fortune because you will be happy that what that person aspires for is being obtained. (Dalai Lama)
You see, at the moment that envy or jealousy develops, you no longer can maintain your peace of mind. So jealousy actually destroys your peace of mind. Then that jealousy can become corrosive to the relationship. Even with your good friend, if you develop some sort of jealousy, it will be very harmful to your friendship. (Desmond TuTu)
Sometimes, people with low self-esteem feel intimated by others who are intelligent, attractive, or confident. They become bullies, thinking that they can feel “bigger” by behaving bitterly towards others and putting others down.
How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves. (Paulo Coelho)
Happy people with healthy self-esteem simply just don’t have time and energy to bully other individuals, to be mean and rude towards other individuals, to use sarcasm to put down other people, to show off their things, or to feel jealous of other people. They spend their time and energy on improving their own life and other lives in a genuine way. Happy, confident, beautiful people lift others up! Not only do they want to do well, they would like others to do well—this desire is genuine and reflected in all situations that they encounter.
The more you bully others, the more it reflects how small you feel inside.
The people who go around becoming bullies are people who have a massive sense of insecurity, who want to prove that they are somebody, often because they did not get enough love. (Desmond Tutu)
Hurting other people is also hurting yourself. Seek help to manage your self-esteem issues in a healthy way!
How to deal with bullies
If you have experienced bullying, remember to stand up for yourself assertively and seek help! If it’s workplace harassment, seek legal advice and file a legal complaint. If it’s bullying or discrimination at university, by peers or by professors, file a formal complaint. If it is bullying at school, seek help from your school counsellor and your family. If it is cyber bullying, seek help from friends, family, or a counsellor.
Don’t let the bullies win! Don’t let their low self-esteem affect your self-esteem! Your courage will help yourself, and it may stop the bully from going around bullying other people!
Haters don’t really hate you. In fact, they hate themselves because you’re a reflection of what they wish to be. (Author Unknown)
Don’t worry about the haters… they are just angry because the truth you speak contradicts the lie they live. (Steve Maraboli)
You don’t have to say anything to the haters. You don’t have to acknowledge them at all. You just wake up every morning and be the best you you can be. And that tends to shut them up. (Michelle Obama)
Do not follow the bullies’ behaviours! Do not absorb their negativity! The best way to deal with them is to stand up for yourself and walk away. By doing that, you have peace. And your kindness continues to make your life so very beautiful. It shines through your smile, your presence, your acts, and your speech… it draws you to people who are genuinely kind too! If you respond with hate like they do, when is the cycle of negativity going to stop? Be the one to break the cycle!
One of the best ways to deal with people with bitterness or jealousy is to stand up and to practice your voice and assertiveness. And if you can, be an advocate for other people. Talk about it, preach about it, and let the world know about it. The more we talk about it, the greater the chance that it will stop bullies from harming other people! Be brave! Some of the excellent examples that we have today are Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. They fight in a peaceful way.
You don’t need the perfect height, the perfect facial features, and the perfect body figure to make you beautiful. When you are sincerely kind, that kindness shines from within, and you will always look beautiful—it’s something that nothing can ever destroy, and no one can ever achieve with cosmetics or designer clothing or other things. Kindness has to be sincere, and kindness requires regular practice towards all humanity.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. (Iain Thomas)
If you nurture bullying, hatred, anger, spite, and disgust 100 times, it will slip through. If you nurture kindness, love, forgiveness, compassion, and altruism 100 times, it will also shine through. The choice is yours.
Bullies do not need your punishment (there is no need to seek revenge!). They are already living a hellish lifestyle. The life of a bully is already self-punitive.
The door is not locked: it is always open. As long as they are willing to apologize, make amends, or change for the better, there is plenty of joy, peace, freedom, and love available to them.
Bullies do not always stay the same! Sometimes, they change and become good people.
If you have experienced bullying, use your stories as your motivation to rise! There are many encouraging stories of people who overcome bullying: they work hard, they achieve their goals and dreams, and they shine like a star! Be like that!
So how to build yourself up?
Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show. (Author Unknown)
Building healthy self-esteem requires an integration of humility and self-acceptance.
It involves open-mindedness to be willing to see your flaws or weaknesses, challenge yourself, and make positive changes. There is always room for improvement! Be humble and be brave. Compete with yourself, not with other people!
It also involves knowing yourself very well and nourishing the core, positive parts of yourself without changing them just to be liked or to be accepted by others. The following quote encourages you to be yourself—it is only when you can truly be yourself that would allow other people to love you the way you are!
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. (Dr. Seuss)
It is human nature to like encouraging statements, compliments, or approval, but one thing that you can ask yourself is whether you need them to prove your identity and whether you can live happily and still feel confident about yourself without them. If your actions are not motivated by compliments, and compliments come as a by-product, you would actually feel very surprised to receive them. And with or without compliments, you would still like to be unapologetically yourself because you wouldn’t allow what people think of you to change the core of who you are. If people don’t like you, you shrug your shoulders and move on, and if people like you, you smile and humbly accept that!
When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me. (Steve Maraboli)
Healthy self-esteem is not about having certain relationships, things, titles, physical appearance, assets, etc. We often hear people say, “If only I have that…. I will feel happy and confident.” People who have a PhD, a respected profession, a family, numerous friends, an attractive body, fame, a mansion, or luxury sports cars can still have very, very low self-esteem and a very, very bitter attitude! Healthy self-esteem is being able to love and accept your own imperfections and your imperfect life. Of course this is easier said than done! Imagine if you were the Biblical figure, Job, who lost his health, relationships, and assets altogether! Maintaining healthy self-esteem then requires hard work, self-reflection, and healthy discussions with friends and family on a regular basis.
One of the cures for different types of problems starts with self-awareness. Without self-awareness, people with self-esteem issues go on, sometimes bragging about themselves and showing off their objects, relationships, title, or work, sometimes feeling badly about themselves, and sometimes attacking others, putting others down, or behaving bitterly.
Having the courage to admit that you have self-esteem issues and a willingness to work on improving your self-esteem is courageous. There is so much hope in people who have self-awareness and who are willing to strive towards improving their well-being with sincerity!
Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending. (Carl Bard)
We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I practice having self-awareness, seek help if I realize that I have self-esteem issues to work on, and persistently engage in healthy ways to improve my self-esteem.