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Self Esteem Issues and Personal Relationships


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Hi, I've been struggling a lot lately, but also feel uncomfortable reaching out to people around me so I thought I would ask enotalone.

This year I feel like my self-esteem has really taken a downturn. I have felt like the group of people I have built up around me isn't particularly supportive or loving, while at the same time I have a hard time loving myself. Because I'm insecure I also get jealous in my relationship with my boyfriend often, which he is very patient with but I wish it weren't the case. I know it's because I'm unsure of myself. I also feel anxiety constantly even if I have no reason to feel anxious. To outsiders, it looks like I have it all together. I'm in my early twenties, I have a nice job, many hobbies, I do well in school, I don't have trouble dating, and have many friends, but on the inside it's not the same. When I research online about ways to deal with self-esteem and anxiety, it tells me to focus on myself and my hobbies and to say self-love affirmations daily. I'm in a successful band and play music often, so I do work on my hobbies. I also force myself to hang out with friends when I don't want to just so that I get out of my room. I have lost a best friend this year because she thought I spent more time with my boyfriend than her, and now I'm constantly worried that I'll lose others. My sister tells me that I'm too sensitive constantly, but on the other hand I feel that she's so critical and judgmental towards me that I wouldn't be sensitive if she didn't give me reasons to be. The other day I tried to have a conversation with my mom about how I don't feel loved or supported in our relationship, and she told me I "have issues" and I'm "troubled." If I have so much going for me, why do I feel so anxious and dislike myself and struggle in my closest relationships? I seek validation from others and when I don't receive that validation it's like I don't see any worth in myself. Has anyone found successful ways to deal with low self-esteem and anxiety? I would prefer natural ways, but anything that has worked for someone else I would really appreciate.

Thanks in advance!

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I've met some incredibly successful people who are astonishingly insecure and I've met some astonishing losers who are incredibly self assured.

 

It's not a matter of outside success or hobbies or what you do, it's about self perception and what you choose to measure yourself by. You choose to measure yourself by the approval of other people. So you are setting yourself up for constant life long failure. Change your measure, change your perspective. It's simple to type this, but very difficult to do in reality for people. There are specialized types of therapies for that, not just any will do, there are also other things you can try - life coaches, courses, self help books, etc.

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I mean it sounds like they're already a bit testy about your venting. Family and friends aren't a substitute for professional counseling. Particularly given you seem to be doing most everything right, it would speak to something deeper that should be properly explored.

 

Also, try not to vent about your relationship with people you desire to be in both your and his life. Puts your partner in an unfair position to deal with their shifted and naturally biased perception.

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Hey there, I've seen similar patterns in myself and recently I have been exploring the difference between self-esteem and self-respect and self-soothing. I see it like this:

 

- Self-esteem is when you feel good about what you do.

- Self-respect is when you feel good about who you are, and your recognition of your own right to exist regardless of what you do or achieve.

- Self-soothing is the way in which people unconsciously regulate their stress. Personally I don't have this ability very well established and often have relied on others to provide it for me.

 

I feel like it's been very easy for me to mix these things up. Like I'm struggling at work so I think if I work harder I'll feel better (trying to build self-esteem), whereas actually the issue is not the amount i'm doing but rather my sense of self-worth. In those moments self-soothing would be better (i.e. have a relaxing lunch hour in the park instead of working through to try to feel like a good employee). It's ok for me to look after myself and be gentle with myself.

 

I have massively high expectations of myself, and have a very loud inner critical voice (a sure sign of not being able to soothe myself), and then I feel insecure and go searching round for people to tell me I'm good. And of course then you get the people telling you that you're too sensitive or whatever. But that's not helpful.

 

And in all of this, the worst times, when I feel like how you wrote, is when I'm exhausted and need a rest, because that's when it overcomes me. I hope some of this is useful, and I think that self-soothing is a new thing that I've found that has really helped me. Googling it was a little unhelpful (drink a cup of herbal tea is not the best advice ever), but the point is that I noticed how hard I am on myself, and that perhaps the main problem is that my "inner soother" is weak. That's a far nicer problem to have!

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Hi, I've been struggling a lot lately, but also feel uncomfortable reaching out to people around me so I thought I would ask enotalone.

This year I feel like my self-esteem has really taken a downturn. I have felt like the group of people I have built up around me isn't particularly supportive or loving, while at the same time I have a hard time loving myself. Because I'm insecure I also get jealous in my relationship with my boyfriend often, which he is very patient with but I wish it weren't the case. I know it's because I'm unsure of myself. I also feel anxiety constantly even if I have no reason to feel anxious. To outsiders, it looks like I have it all together. I'm in my early twenties, I have a nice job, many hobbies, I do well in school, I don't have trouble dating, and have many friends, but on the inside it's not the same. When I research online about ways to deal with self-esteem and anxiety, it tells me to focus on myself and my hobbies and to say self-love affirmations daily. I'm in a successful band and play music often, so I do work on my hobbies. I also force myself to hang out with friends when I don't want to just so that I get out of my room. I have lost a best friend this year because she thought I spent more time with my boyfriend than her, and now I'm constantly worried that I'll lose others. My sister tells me that I'm too sensitive constantly, but on the other hand I feel that she's so critical and judgmental towards me that I wouldn't be sensitive if she didn't give me reasons to be. The other day I tried to have a conversation with my mom about how I don't feel loved or supported in our relationship, and she told me I "have issues" and I'm "troubled." If I have so much going for me, why do I feel so anxious and dislike myself and struggle in my closest relationships? I seek validation from others and when I don't receive that validation it's like I don't see any worth in myself. Has anyone found successful ways to deal with low self-esteem and anxiety? I would prefer natural ways, but anything that has worked for someone else I would really appreciate.

Thanks in advance!

There are reasons you feel anxious and there are reasons you have self-esteem issues.

 

What troubles you? What do you think is causing your anxiety?

 

What do you not like about yourself? What could you improve?

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I think you're relying too much on what other people think about you to determine how you should feel about yourself. Is there a reason why you need to seek so much validation from others? I would explore that question. Your boyfriend, your friend who left you, your sister... all of these people have very biased and partial opinions of you. Some of them might even get annoyed when they have to talk about feelings. The information you find on the Internet is helpful only to an extent, and is really meant for people who suffer from more mild forms of anxiety than what it seems like you suffer from. You suffer from what appears to be a rather debilitating anxiety, which in turn affects how you view yourself, which affects how others view you.

 

Let me say that seeking professional counseling is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, it's probably the best thing you can do to improve yourself and your relationships with others. Seeking professional counseling means you want to take control of your anxiety instead of allowing it to continue to control you. That is a positive step in the right direction no matter what your family or friends think about it. You need to stop letting what others think of you stop you from making good decisions for yourself, otherwise your anxiety will only get worse.

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I have lost a best friend this year because she thought I spent more time with my boyfriend than her, and now I'm constantly worried that I'll lose others.

 

She wasn't a friend to accuse you of spending more time with your boyfriend. She was jealous of you.

 

Maybe you're doing too much. Take time to smell the roses, as they say. Think about cutting negative people out of your life. It's better to have one close friend than to have a bunch of haters.

 

What is making you jealous with your boyfriend? It's probably your self-esteem issues talking. Maybe you're just suffering a bout of depression. You're not a teenager anymore, and a lot of those raging hormones that turned you from a child into a woman are tapering off. That causes depression in a lot of people.

 

What was growing up like? Did you come from an emotionally abusive home? Your mother and sister don't sound very sympathetic.

 

I'm just throwing out a lot of different things. If you can narrow down what it is that causes you anxiety, you can focus on addressing those issues. You would probably benefit by talking to a counselor at school since it doesn't seem to be one specific thing that's bothering you. People don't have to know.

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You are around people who sound judgmental- aside from your bf.

 

I would think about getting counseling and surrounding myself with more positive people and not rely on family/close friends' opinions. You are just fine how you are, you just need to take care of your mental and emotional health so you can be better person and better girlfriend.

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I seek validation from others and when I don't receive that validation it's like I don't see any worth in myself.

 

As you've noticed, this cycle just sets you up for a downward spiral. Self esteem is not parent esteem or boyfriend esteem or teacher esteem or esteem from anyone else. So to seek your esteem from others tries to bypass the source from which it MUST come, and worse, it creates a bottomless pit that nobody else can fill.

 

If BF is supportive, that's not good enough because sister was lousy that day, so the only validation that matters would be from sister. Then Mom isn't generous, so no matter who else compliments you, you feel like a worm because Mom isn't supportive.

 

Skip that. Recognize that part of adulthood is self acceptance and self sufficiency. The more needy you opt to behave, the more withholding the people around you will become.

 

Your emotions are one thing, and your behavior is another. You've already decided to behave in ways that bring you positive reinforcement from those outside your family--so the question becomes, why would you continue to behave toward your family in ways that only bring you negative feedback? Why not demonstrate with Mom and Sis the same degree of self sufficiency that you demonstrate with outsiders?

 

Does this mean that you can never expose your true self to Mom and Sis ever again? No. It just means that they've developed an immunity to your assumptions that they should fulfill in you something that they cannot. So they're exasperated.

 

When you start demonstrating self sufficiency, your family will fail to notice at first because they are conditioned to view you through a needy lens. Roll with that. Self respect takes focus, and teaching others to model your self respect takes time and consistency.

 

Has anyone found successful ways to deal with low self-esteem and anxiety?

 

It starts with a decision, and then you'll need to follow that decision with reinforcing behaviors.

 

Emotions follow behavior, not the other way around. So you can't wait until you feel fabulous to start embracing your fabulousness--just the opposite. You decide that you're willing to make room for that fact that you are fabulous, and then you pursue every means necessary to work IN FAVOR of that decision.

 

It makes no sense to say that I want to feel great even while I adopt a mission of seeking (and finding--even provoking) every piece of evidence that signals the contrary.

 

You're either on your own side, or you're your own enemy. You get to pick.

 

Consider working with a therapist who is trained to help people deal with this stuff. Meanwhile, understand that if you keep pressing 'Button A,' and 'B' pops up every time, and you hate 'B,' then stop pressing 'Button A'.

 

Head high.

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Friends and family are not supposed to be therapists. Expecting people to fix you or coddle you or solve your problems will be very frustrating. Confronting people about this will push people away. No one wants to volunteer their time for that when a therapist makes $150/hr to do this. You'll get the results you are getting with people telling you "you have issues" or "you need therapy". The best thing to do is see a physician for a complete check up to rule out underlying medical or mood disorders and get a referral to a therapist.

 

Natural is fine but avoid ineffective quacks and nonsense internet memes. Instead make sure you are fit, healthy, eat well and take better care of your physical and emotional health. Do more to stay in shape such as yoga classes or fitness classes or sports. Also, moving out and becoming more independent and responsible socially, emotionally and financially would help your self confidence. It would give you things to build yourself up and reduce the self absorption.

The other day I tried to have a conversation with my mom about how I don't feel loved or supported in our relationship, and she told me I "have issues" and I'm "troubled."
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