By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
How many self-esteem destroyers have you experienced?
People around you may be doing things that undermine your self-esteem.
You may have done some of the same things to your family or friends.
Worse yet, you may have been doing these confidence-destroying things to yourself for a long time.
Look at these methods of undermining self-esteem. How many of these things are damaging your self-esteem?
Point out every mistake.
Having someone constantly point out every mistake you make is annoying. When others do this to you, it can lower your self-esteem. When you do it to yourself, it will undermine your confidence. Continually pointing out mistakes but never recognizing accomplishments can create a condition called learned helplessness. When you get the message that you cannot do anything right, you give up trying.
Withhold all praise.
Parents sometimes treat children this way. The old belief was that praising someone too much would give them “a swelled head.” Occasionally pointing out a shortcoming may help someone improve. Continually pointing out every mistake causes people to give up. Why would you continue trying if it is not possible to do it correctly?
Be careful not to praise someone for things that are trivial. Telling your child how great they did when they came in last in a race does not raise their self-esteem. When everyone gets a blue ribbon, the awards do not raise self-esteem. Recognizing effort, regardless of the outcome, does raise self-esteem.
There’s nothing wrong with taking credit for things done well. Make it a point to praise your family and friends and recognize their accomplishments. Give yourself credit. Don’t discount your accomplishments. Taking pride in the things you do results in taking pride in yourself.
Don’t expect others to be better at everything.
The expectation that everyone else is better than you at everything sets up an unrealistic standard. No one is the best at everything. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be careful that you do not set a higher standard of behavior for others than you set for yourself.
Self-handicapping, telling yourself that you are not capable of doing what others do may at first seems like a way to avoid disappointment. However, continually setting lower expectations for yourself damages your self-esteem. Accept yourself and others as good enough just the way you are, while you continue to work on improving yourself.
Don’t make your love conditional.
Being loved only when you do things for others, makes love a commodity. Accept yourself just the way you are. Don’t start believing that you are lovable only because of what you do for others. People who only love because you give them gifts, or do acts of service for them, are confusing love with using people.
Avoid role model failure.
Be careful about whom you pick for a role model. Avoid comparing you in your work clothes to others dressed for the red carpet. Avoid the trap of social media comparisons. If you have ten friends, be happy with that. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has 50 friends and then start believing you do not measure up. If you grew up without a role model, or with poor role models, spend some time becoming the kind of person you want others to model themselves after.
Expect perfection no matter what.
Quality is good. Striving to be your best is wonderful. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you must be perfect or you are no good. Perfectionists tend to drive themselves and others crazy. No matter how well things are done, it is never good enough. Trying to be perfect demolishes self-esteem, is an impossible goal, and is likely to lead to depression and giving up.
Criticize individual differences.
Avoid trying to be exactly like everyone else. Don’t be one of those people criticizes everyone who does not fit the ideal exactly. Embrace your individuality. Allowing you to be yourself and others to be who they are, results in feeling positive about yourself and others.
Use shame to motivate.
Shame is the feeling that you are a bad person. Some people in families try to control others by shaming them. There’s a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says you did something bad don’t do it again. Shame says you made a mistake; you are a bad person. Shaming yourself and others undermine self-esteem and can lead to giving up all efforts to improve.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.
Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.