According to Merriam-Webster.com, self-esteem is defined as: a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities; a confidence and satisfaction in oneself. Our self-esteem is something that is cultivated over the years, a make-up of our personality, upbringing, and experiences. It’s an overall sense of being in control of our attitude and approach to life. That being said, a lot of us have adopted behaviors that sabotage our self-esteem and “let us off the hook.” Annoying behaviors that allow us to relinquish ownership and personal responsibility for what we say and how we behave. There are many, but if you really want to sabotage your self-esteem start with these three behaviors:
1. First and foremost: Make Excuses. Never own your behavior. Always blame someone or something else. While people with good self-esteem take ownership of their behavior and actions, people with low self-esteem blame those around them. When they don’t get a project completed on time they blame their boss for giving them too much work, rather than recognizing their proclivity for procrastination. Excuses abound in our society: “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have willpower.” “I’m too busy.” But the truth is, we all face obstacles and contend with triggers… people or situations that dare us to behave in inappropriate ways or say things we wish we wouldn’t have. The defining difference is that people with good self-esteem own their stuff. They don’t use excuses as opportunities to escape their demons. They use them as opportunities to face them head-on so they can grow and learn.
2. Second: Behave Like a Victim. Whenever something in your life goes wrong, ask yourself, “Why Me?” Then say things like, “I don’t deserve this. How come everyone is against me?” People with good self-esteem don’t adopt a victim mentality. They do the best they can at all times, but they’re aware that even then things can go wrong and situations can change. People with good self-esteem spend their energy moving forward, rather than looking back. They focus on ways to deal with the situation or setback in a positive, productive manner. Their goal is to come out stronger and more resilient, using their experiences as building blocks for a better future.
3. Third: Seek Endless Approval from Others. You may not be part of the generation that posts a slew of selfies, seeking endless social media approval, but you might vie for attention in other not so subtle ways. “I feel so fat.” “My hair looks terrible today.” “I wish I was as smart as you.” Begging for someone to tell you that you’re not fat, you’re hair looks awesome, and you really are brilliant, can be annoying to those around you. It’s exhausting to be the owner of someone else’s self-esteem. The sooner you find ways to build yourself up rather than tear yourself down, the better you’ll feel. Best of all, others will invest trust and respect in your abilities. We don’t need to look outside of ourselves for approval. We need to seek approval from the inside, and use the support of our closest friends and family to help us through this journey.
Sabotaging our self-esteem is easier to do than we realize, and sometimes we adopt behaviors that act in opposition to our goals. Next time you’re tempted to make an excuse, act like a victim, or seek approval from others, remember that you’re the holder of your self-esteem. Good self-esteem starts with personal responsibility and a willingness to accept that we’re not perfect. As the saying goes, “We have to claim it to tame it.”