Breaking Free from Low Self-Esteem

I’d like you to try an exercise. Take a minute and think about 3-5 attributes you really like about yourself or things you think are awesome about you.

Go ahead, think for a minute. You can write them down if you’d like to.

How was that? I’m going to guess it wasn’t easy. In fact I’d guess it was downright hard. I bet it is much easier for you to think about all the things you wish were different about you or the ways in which you think you constantly come up short.

Eli feeling pretty good about himself opening his locker for the first time. Unfortunately times like these are pretty rare for most of us. Instead we spend a lot of time being self-critical. The good news is that it is possible to recover our sense of self-worth.

You see I believe that we are all born with God-given unique traits, talents, gifts and skills that make us who we are and that we are meant to use to impact the world in a positive way. On an even deeper level, I believe we are all worth of love, connection and belonging.

The problem is many of us don’t believe those things about ourselves, at least not very often.  Instead we believe that we’re broken, messed-up and unworthy. I think this is so common and wide spread that we actually have an epidemic of low self-esteem and self-worth in our society.

By some estimates 85% of the world’s population is affected by low self-esteem.

At the very least it keeps us from reaching our full potential and at worst it can be a big contributing factor to some of our societies biggest issues – alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, obesity, etc.

I know this because of people I’ve talked to, research I’ve read and because I’ve experienced it myself.

If you’ve read my blog much you probably know that I’ve struggled on and off with anxiety and depression. While I’m biologically pre-disposed to it, I also think that my low sense of self-worth has played a huge role.

From an early age I remember feeling kind of weird, like there was something wrong with me and that I didn’t fit in. That wasn’t and isn’t the truth but I felt it nonetheless. Over the years I started to believe it until it became my reality. It became such a reality that at one point I was so depressed and anxious that many days I could barely get out of bed and I even contemplated suicide.

Thankfully I didn’t follow through and I’m doing much better today but it has been a long road to get to this point.

So what do we do if we’re struggling with low self-esteem? Here are some tips that have helped me in a big way on my road to recovery. I believe they can for you as well:

Believe we are worthy of love and belonging

This is where the recovery of our self-esteem starts. We can’t feel good about ourselves unless we believe that we’re worthy of it. It is really hard to begin with. We’ve spent so many years telling ourselves how messed up and broken we are and ruminating on what we wish was different about us.

But if we begin to tell ourselves a different story – that we’re worthy  of love and belonging and that we have been gifted and equipped to make a unique and positive difference in the world – we can start to untangle the lies and  over time we’ll start to believe the truth. Our minds are like a muscle in this way. They can be trained and strengthened over time.

Realize we’re not alone

This was huge for me. When I heard stories of other people who were experiencing the same things as me it felt like a huge burden had been lifted. I realized I wasn’t so weird after all. That along with the knowledge that there were people who wanted to help me – friends, family, etc. – gave me the courage to start sharing what I was going through and asking for help.

Reach out

We can’t do this alone. Finally reaching out and telling people exactly what I was going through was probably the best decision I made.

It set me on a path of going to counseling and getting the professional help I needed to really improve. I used to think counseling was only for “really crazy people.” But it isn’t. I like to think of counselors as coaches for our minds. When we want to improve in a sport we see a coach. Counseling is the same thing for another area of our life. It has given me so many practical tools that have helped me turn my life around.

Even if your experience isn’t as extreme as mine I bet you could benefit from reaching out and telling someone that you’re struggling with a sense of low self-worth. At the very least you’ll probably get a chance to hear some truth and be reminded of what is great about you. You may also inspire the person you share with to be more open about their own experiences.

My journey to recovering my self-esteem isn’t over. It is an on-going process. In fact sharing about it is part of my continued recovery. I want my experience to help others as they seek a better life.

I believe in you and I want you to live your life to the fullest and reach your full God-given potential. So if you can relate to any part of my story I hope you’ll take just one small step today to starting the road to recovering your self-worth!