I have suffered from low self-esteem since I was a little kid. Maybe the lack of a father figure, several rejections, and my appearance caused this sense of worthlessness in my life.
I used to think I was the only one, but more and more I have found many people who share this damaging and mysterious feeling. When I was working with high risk youth in the city of Santa Ana, I noticed they all shared something in common; low self-esteem, depression, and suicidal thoughts. But everything started with low self-esteem. It was that thought behind their head that continued to tell them that they were not good enough, that they were not beautiful, that nobody wanted, and liked them.
I have been there. Heck! I still suffer from this a lot of times. And before I bore you to death with the why I think this happens, I simply want to give you 5 practical things you can start doing today to combat this awful feeling.
5. Create an encouragement file
I have an encouragement file. This is a file I keep on my Evernote account in which I write most comments I receive that are encouraging. When someone sends me a text letting me know that my public speech was good, I copy that into my encouragement file. When my wife tells me I did a good job doing something at home, I input that into my encouragement file. When someone tells me they liked the way I look, I put that into the encouragement file. When I volunteer somewhere and I know it was meaningful, I write that in my encouragement file.
Why do I have this file? Because I suffer from low self-esteem. And when I feel down, I visit this file. It may be small because not a lot of people tell me great things, but at least it helps me remember that at some point, I was meaningful to someone or something, and it motivates me to continue in life, to move on, and to be a better citizen.
4. Change your style
Something so simple we can do to deal with our low self-esteem is to simply change your style. Change the way you dress and the way you look. Invest in yourself. Buy some new shoes, or a shirt.
All this makes us feel better because it gives us a sense of newness, difference, and improvement.
It’s true that looking good is not the summation of our happiness, but it is definitely a good start. A man and woman with the right shoes can walk wherever they want people to see them. Usually good places.
Amarilis wrote an article about her journey to finding a hair stylist. Read it here. And the main reason why I’m mentioning this, is because her story just goes to show how important it is for us to find, at any cost — except the one in which you compromise your values — the conformity in the way we look.
3. Volunteer as tribute
We underestimate the power of volunteering. Serving is one of the most powerful assets we have as human beings. Think about it this way, to volunteer you don’t need to have a degree, you don’t need to be a professional, you don’t need to be famous, and you don’t even have to be good looking. All you need is you. That makes you useful, purposeful, meaningful, and more than all, it gives you a platform to change someone else’s life.
You may say, “Why should I be serving someone else when I am the one that needs help?” I know, it sounds so paradoxical, and contradictory. Because in one sense, we are trying to get rid of our low self-esteem, and the first thing that comes to our minds is that the cure to this is to be more egocentric, to make it about us, to be more selfish. But the truth is that the cure to low self-esteem is to live a life for others. To volunteer as tribute. Because when you make it about others, in a sense you are making it about yourself. I believe there is no greater sense of fulfillment than when we live for others.
What are some ways you can volunteer?
1. Find a social service (here is a good place to start)
2. Give to a charity (Charity Water is amazing)
3. Buy groceries for a widow, or someone that needs it
4. Use your skills to do something for others (I’ve created websites for churches, and other nonprofit organizations – for free)
5. Serve and give to your local church (Churches have an amazing goal; to bring hope to the world. Join them.)
2. Don’t analyze too much
“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates.
But the truth of the matter is that if all you do is examine everything, you are not living.
People that suffer from low self-esteem often make the mistake of analyzing everything. Internalizing the issues of life can kill you, it will bring you down, it will mess with your head. We are so technical about everything that it affects us. We analyze the way we look, the way we eat, the way we behave, the way people look at us, the way we think people think of us, etc. Stop this, at some point we have to realize that we won’t have all the answers, just live life to the best of our abilities and have fun along the way.
This does not mean that you cannot ask the hard questions of life, remember that asking question is not the same as questioning.
The truth is that we do not know how to let life take its course. As much as it may hurt, we need to understand that analyzing everything will only make you go deeper into the rabbit hole. Analyzing the issues of life too much will take us to a bizarre, confusing, and nonsensical environment, typically one from which it is difficult to escape oneself. We need to learn how to let things go. Let people think what they want. Let life take its course. You move on. Forgive the people that have damaged you, but more importantly, forgive yourself and live freely. Remember that when you forgive, you cut that which was holding you back. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself.
1. Stop hanging out with mediocre people
Who you hang out with in the present will define who you’ll be in the future. The people that you spend most of your time with are a prophecy of your life’s outcome. The people that you associate with will trace the path in which you will walk. So, I’m just going to say it; some people are not worth your time. They make you more mediocre than themselves. Sadly, some people have a vested interest in seeing you down. They use you as a stepping stone so that they can elevate themselves above you.As long as they have you, they will always step on top of you, use you for their mockery, and to have a sense of self-centricity. All at the expense of you. They don’t care if you ever succeed, all they care is that you don’t succeed because that is their permission to always be mediocre and feel better about themselves.
But the moment you decide to leave, you will expose their un-dealt with hidden agendas. The moment you decide to get up, and leave that poisonous atmosphere, your absence will make obvious their mediocre, average, self-centered life.
The best thing you can ever do for some of your mediocre friends is to leave them, so that their average lives get exposed to the reality that they have to grow up. You can be the hero, rather than the victim.
The people we hang out with fuel our emotions, they have some type of influence in our lives. You will need to choose whether you want to associate yourself with people that make you feel better about yourself, or people that will make you feel stuck and mediocre.
We ask ourselves why is it that I always feel down, like nobody likes me, like I am not worth anything; it is because you are hanging out with people that don’t bring any value to your life. You have to leave that as soon as you can. I know what you’re thinking, “this has nothing to do with my self esteem.” Actually, yes it does. Why is it, then, that you haven’t felt better being around them all this time? When you hang out with people that have no sense of improvement, excellence, and motivation in them, you will become just the same way.
In the same way, you need to find friends that really care about you. That love you genuinely. That in spite of how you feel, they are mature enough to encourage you and won’t give up on you. Someone that cares about you will always cause you to feel better, or at least they will try.
Finding good friends is hard. Sometimes I don’t even think you can intentionally make it happen, but I know this; when you stop hanging out with bad friends, the good ones are going to come. Remember that one of the best ways to find good friends is to be one.
Read this article I wrote about 18 quotes that will challenge you to question whether you have true friends or not.
Heads up! Chest out! Breathe! We are all in this together. Create an encouragement file and write all the good things you have done, and all the great ways you have impacted someone. If you feel like you have nothing to write in this file yet, here is your first one:
Let me tell you that you are awesome. You are beautiful. You may say, “you don’t even know me” And you are right. I may not know you, but I do know something about you; and that is that you are a human being. And every human being is unique in its own way. And it is this uniqueness of yours that you owe us all to see. The world needs to see how unique and beautiful you are. Difficulties in life should be taken as a test of your inner strength and not as weakness.
– Guillermo Gonzalez
Change the way you look. It doesn’t take a lot. If you need help with this, send us an email, I promise that we will try our best to help out. I have an amazing wife, and some amazing fashionistas sisters that will be more than happy to give you some tips. Just let us know here (we promise to keep it a secret if you want).
And lastly, remember to stop analyzing too much, and begin to form the right relationships in your life.
If you have read this far, I want to thank you! But if you are also thankful for this, please do me and everyone else in your friends list a favor and share it. I am sure one of your friends need to read this. Let’s share some hope with them!
Okay, and since you have read even this further and don’t want to leave us alone, might as well comment below. Let us know your thoughts:
What are some ways you have dealt with your low self-esteem?