Self-esteem is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology as "one's attitude towards oneself or one's opinion or evaluation of oneself, which may be positive, neutral, or negative." Low self-esteem, in particular, is characterized by self-doubt, relationship insecurities, lack of confidence, sensitivity to criticism, and difficulty making decisions.
Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have a negative attitude, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and/or have a tendency to self-sabotage good things in their life. Friendships, family interactions and one's career can all be affected by low self-esteem especially if he/she believes, "I'm not good enough," "I’ll never amount to anything," “I suck at everything,” "I'm not worthy."
Such beliefs can cloud a person's judgment and affect the way he/she perceives situations around them. For example, being passed up for a promotion may be interpreted as not "being good enough" when in fact the individual may have not taken the steps necessary to show interest or initiative. Having low self-esteem is not the end all, be all as there are ways to overcome this type of thinking. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin improving your feelings of low self-esteem:
Acknowledge Your Positive Qualities - we all have positive attributes but recognizing them and owning them can be hard to do, especially if we have a tendency to focus on our negative traits. In order to counteract negative thinking, you may find making a list of your talents, skills and feel-good experiences to be helpful. Listing any compliments you have received regarding your personality, work, etc., can be beneficial as well. Composing such a list and referring to it when you feel you are doubting yourself can help to challenge these negative beliefs.
Surround Yourself With Positive People - being around people who are positive and supportive can help you build your confidence, improve your personal and professional relationships and reduce feelings associated with self-doubt. By interacting with positive, supportive family, friends and colleagues, you are more than likely to be challenged to think differently and engage in activities you may have otherwise avoided. Being around supportive people can also help to provide you with motivation to achieve successes you initially thought to be impossible.
Consider Therapy - in some cases, engaging is the above tasks is not enough to overcome low self-esteem, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained because of past traumatic experiences. Getting help from a mental health professional can help you understand the root of the problem, how certain factors in your life may be contributing to your low self-esteem and explore ways you can overcome your negative thoughts.