Having low self-esteem is often a problem mocked or reframed as being weak or too sensitive. But the problem of forces causing a person to stop thinking they have worth are as old as humanity itself, and are nothing to scoff at.
That’s why questions like this one really tend to resonate:
Has anyone with severely low self-esteem ever managed to overcome it? What happened? from AskReddit
What do the people of Reddit say? Let’s find out.
1. “I had to retrain my brain.”
I realised that low self-esteem is caused by something, upbringing, people etc and therefore it can be undone, it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture of what you are and most likely it’s a delusion.
So for me I just had to retrain my brain over a couple of years, replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, stop criticising myself, focus more on the accomplishments and not the failures, stop assuming I’m a mind reader and know what people are thinking about me.
You can definitely overcome low self-esteem.
2. “No one knew me.”
I realized that no one knew me, so I could be whoever I wanted. I decided to be someone I liked.
People still hate me, but I like myself now.
3. “I did everything I could to numb myself.”
When I was growing up my self esteem was so low I didn’t have friends, parents, money, I grew up in a foster home and was bullied at home by my step dad and at school by my teachers and classmates I tried to runaway in 2014 but someone called the police and I was sent to a hospital for unstable youth. When I got out I just internally collapsed I started cutting myself and getting into pills. I had been prescribed a popular party medicine normally used to treat adhd.
I sold it at school to buy weed and other pills. I overdosed at least 5 times before I hit 18 and for about a year after I still did everything I could to numb myself. Had 1 more hospital visit before I turned 19 and idk tbh I got my first actual job at 19 and just wanted to stop feeling that way so I just pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone and focus on what I love which is music.
I’m now 25 graduated, starting my own studio. Life’s still not the greatest but I’m glad I’m here. I hate feeling so low like I did and I do what I can so that others don’t go through what I did. Do what you love, and care for everyone no matter what treat every person you cross with respect and compassion and your life will change so much. I wish the best to you ?
4. “My first step…”
My first step was that I deleted Facebook lol
I realized I was comparing my life to the overwhelmingly false supposed realities of people who I didn’t even know anymore.
I also decided to just, do things on my own more. I took all the things I enjoyed doing with people, and started doing them on my own… from dining out, to hiking and camping, to going to the movies, to snowboarding. I became comfortable with my own company and started looking at things differently.
I found I no longer needed the approval of others, because I was achieving things on my own – whether that achievement was as simple as spending 2 hours enjoying a movie while dedicating my full attention to it, or as grand as spending 7 days alone in the woods and successfully bringing a deer home to eat for the next 6 months.
I should mention everyone has different interests and hobbies, so don’t compare yours to others’. Whatever it is that you like to do, keep doing it and you will find self worth in it.
What happened I can’t say for sure, because this is an experiment in process… but I will say I feel pretty happy.
5. “I faked my confidence.”
I faked my confidence because confidence is attractive and then I ended up believing it myself
6. “My own happiness.”
I realized most people are fake and started caring about my own happiness instead of trying to please others.
7. “Everyone laughed.”
I was a very serious athlete in my youth and competed internationally in European athletics in the 100m and 400m hurdles.
Due to all the training I was very flat chested. It didnt bother me much until my college boyfriend joked at a party that “banging me is like banging an ironing board”. Everyone laughed.
That single joke completely ruined my body positivity and I became very self conscious. I dumped that boyfriend… but still every time I attended a function I would pick out dresses that cover up your breasts entirely so that I could hide stuffed bras under them.
I hate to say this because I know redditors dont take kindly to fake bobs, but I got an augmentation and went from “ironing board” to a c-cup. My self esteem and confidence are now superb.
Antidepressants. Actually turned out really well.
I was lucky to have minor side effects that faded after I got used to the medication. Feeling more like myself these days.
9. “I was bullied to the extreme.”
I wasn’t able to finish middle school because I was bullied to the extreme. So badly that the police were involved due to the fact that my bullies were calling me, sending me messages encouraging me to kill myself. I was 13.
They called me every name in the book…lesbian, fat, ugly, loser (pretty much every lame name calling you could label someone). They even had a website that was sent around my school with a comment forum of kids talking pure smack about me. Had photoshopped pictures of me, making fun of my body, my face, the fact that I didn’t have “boobs” yet.
I finished the rest of my school year at home and spent my entire teens/early youth absolutely petrified of what people were thinking about me/saying about me. I was different, a Tom boy who loved sports and didn’t care about wearing pretty dresses or hanging out with the popular crowd.
Anyways as I grew older, I made a point to start putting myself out there (ran for student council in university, moved to a new town, travelled solo) and realized how strong of a person I really was! And the people that picked on me were really just jealous of the fact that I was free-spirited and didn’t care about being popular. For some reason when your younger, kids will pick on you for being unique or “different”.
I’m 30 years old now, 5 months away from marrying the man of my dreams, worked hard in university, have a job I love and have a small amazing group of friends. I also seeked some counselling after all that, but ultimately it came down to challenging my boundaries and putting myself in situations that I would have normally shy-ed away from. Once I started doing that, life was golden and blossomed into something i couldn’t have even dreamed of.
10. “Stop agreeing with the thoughts that tear you down.”
Yeah, used to spend all my time hating and punishing myself. Then I took up Buddhism for a while, learned about self esteem and self love and have slowly been getting better and better at it. I am still sometimes a bit hard on myself, but other than that, I’m good to myself and like myself.
The gist of it is you realize there is something good about everyone and you start to give yourself realistic compliments based on that. Stop trying to be better than or worse than others and start trying to make yourself and others feel good, while still being honest.
You also have to abandon excessive use of comparative, judgmental, ego based thinking.
For instance: You would say to yourself “I like your eyes, they look pretty (to yourself)” not “My eyes are better than 70% of eyes, her eyes are worse than mine!”
Comparing is a losing game. At the very best, you end up with a giant ego and act like an a**hole to people.
Also, avoid absolutes, since they will always be disputed by reality. So for instance you can say “I look pretty handsome today” or “I often look handsome”, but you wouldn’t want to say “I am f**king handsome!”, you don’t want to treat it as an absolute fact. Because you know what, there’s going to be some day when you look like s**t, and then it’s going to shatter the absolute belief you had.
Another example is with intelligence, believing “I’m smart”, means that you sort of panic when you are stupid, because it flies in the face of your belief in yourself. So instead say “What I did was smart!” or “I am often pretty intelligent”. Whenever you deal in absolutes you build an identity that will constantly get shattered when something challenges the truthfulness of it. Basically you don’t want to dilute yourself.
Also, you’ve gotta stop agreeing with the thoughts that tear you down. Dispute them when they arise, if possible.
11. “Break it down into chunks.”
Treat your self esteem like a project and break it down into chunks. Then start working on those chunks and get slightly better at them.
Don’t like the fact that your a lazy piece of s**t that sleeps in every day? Well start going to bed earlier and waking up later bit by bit each day.
Don’t like the fact that you’re fat? Well start eating healthier and working out by changing small aspects of your daily routine.
Don’t like the fact that you don’t have any hobbies? Well start googling some easy cheap hobbies to pick up and try them one at a time.
P**sed off about being single? Well actually this part comes last. It’s the last piece of the puzzle and you only start this part once you’ve worked on the others.
Don’t think about the fact that this will take months or even years. If you think about that you will fail. Just promise yourself you are going to make simple changes every month and yourself accountable to those changes. Eventually you will get there.
12. “A lot of therapy helped.”
I’m still not all the way there, but my self esteem has improved a lot.
A lot of therapy helped, and overall putting a lot of effort into improving my mental health and being more self-compassionate.
Improving severely low self-esteem takes a lot of time and work but it’s worth it.
13. “I took an honest look at my expectations.”
I took an honest look at my expectations for what I thought I (and others) should be, and realized that my metric was unrealistic.
Go at your own pace, and be kind. You don’t need to understand the motivations of others to be empathetic. Evil breeds evil, an eye for an eye and the world goes blind.
Religion has been a double edged sword. A shallow understanding made me prideful and judgmental. My sense of worth was “I am better then you because XYZ” now I understand to keep my eye focused on improving, not tearing down. To do what is the best interest of others. To be gentle, to listen and to nourish their soul. I must walk my path, and you, yours. It’s not my place to decide who is right or wrong, or to needlessly fight or be divisive.
To answer briefly, I abandoned the notion that the worth of a human should be based on what they cannot control, or that the value of a human should be measured by subjective metrics like the ones society enjoys. People (and myself included) just are.
14. “Walking around naked.”
This one is going to sound weird and I’m not sure if your self-esteem issues are body-related but….. as a person who has suffered from an eating disorder, walking around naked has helped. Doing things in my own skin and nothing else made me more comfortable with my body. Seeing it naked in a mirror while doing things. Everyday normal things. Truly weird but it normalized it for me – how it looked, how it moved, how it felt. In some ways I even like it now.
Also recognizing that the way we think we should be or look or act, how we define success or beauty – those are simply stories, shaped by culture. You have the power to change the narrative you tell yourself. I hope you find the help you need.
15. “I ski pretty well.”
I’m trying. I’m not hideous, I ski pretty well, I got dance moves for days, and I work hard.
16. “Confidence is the key.”
I was bullied as a kid and I realized that had far reaching effects into my adulthood causing feelings of unworthiness and that the bottom of the social ladder was where I belonged. I let people walk all over me and My self esteem / confidence in myself spiralled lower and lower.
It took many years and experiences to change this mindset, but brief moments where I took control and was put in situations that required assertiveness slowly trained my mind and gave me more confidence.
Confidence is the key and I can say one of the main contributors for me at least to overcoming this was looking the part. I exercised, got in shape, read magazines for fashion tips to dress better and generally cleaned myself up and it did wonders.
This made Others place more confidence in me and in turn your confidence in yourself grows. And it sort of clicks and you realize that you’re not stuck where you are. You are in control. You need to feel confident to be confident. You shouldn’t live your life based on external validation but it does help and sometimes is the impetus you need to get your head out of your **s.
I was always instilled with values as a kid about not being shallow to look past the superficial and while these are all good values I found this to be half The lesson. unfortunately we live in a superficial world But nothing says you can’t look good and not be superficial at the same time.
Nope. It’s been a problem that’s stuck with me for my entire life, and informs practically every decision I make. I can’t walk into a room of other people without automatically assuming that I’m the worst person in the room, and none of my ideas matter to anyone. Depression, anxiety, and a lifetime of being treated like you’re a nuisance to others will do that to you. I’m just always afraid of bothering people. How could someone as lowly and worthless as I even think to intrude on somebody else?
In recent years, I’ve made efforts to be more assertive, but it’s really all just a bunch of false bravado in the face of the crippling anxiety I feel while doing it. There is no genuine confidence. I’m not even certain that I’m capable of manifesting such a thing, and I’m very afraid that I will just remain this way for the rest of my life.
18. “Now I can do things.”
When i was really depressed, i started to make a daily list of really simple stuff that I often didn’t do, like wake up without snoozing, brushing my teeth in the morning, performing a bedtime ritual. I even had something as simple as “drink water” when i first started my list.
I kept adding more stuff to the list until I could do progressively harder things, and now I can do things that were harder for me than before I had depression. It was a gradual change that made me realize how up until that point in my life, I had never actually exerted personal power to change my life.
Every major change had happened as a result of my environment, and this epiphany led me to take personal responsibility over everything in my life, even things that were pretty much out of my control. Although you can’t control getting rejected from jobs or girls/boys, you can control how you respond to these situations. This is how I gained greater self-esteem.
19. “I have definitely improved.”
I cut out the piece of s**t who made me feel that way.
Can’t exactly say I’m a confident person but I have definitely improved.
20. “Thanks, brain.”
I had terrible self esteem issues most of my life, which most of it probably stemmed from stupid depression. Thanks, brain. Appreciate you.
I was allowing terrible people into my life because someone is better than no one, right? I was r*ped at one point and started to spiral down a REALLY bad path of sleeping around, drinking in excess, just hating myself and the police and hospitals. It was just a bad few years. I had a “friend” who later turned out to be so bad to have around and I finally left the friendship after five years.
I then started to work on myself. I wanted to be better. I wanted to FEEL happiness. I started going to kickboxing classes, I started exercising, I was eating better, I stopped drinking all the time, stopped having s**. I lost almost 90 pounds at one point and was actually in love with MYSELF.
I was in my 30’s when I finally got there, but I got there. I think most people just finally get to the point of realization, almost an epiphany and things just…get better. I started to realize I live my life for me, not for others and I only allow good people into my life.
21. “Doesn’t make the process easier.”
I’ve been trying, but sometimes it feels like everyone else wants to kick you while you’re down and remind you constantly that you’re just a worthless **shole.
Doesn’t make the process easier.
22. “I gradually started appreciating.”
It took a long time and a lot of sources contributed to it, but I gradually started appreciating all my little quirks instead of hating them.
Examples: I used to hate the way my voice sounded, but I started watching Pewdiepie and thought that he has a unique voice but millions of fans, so I appreciated my unique voice.
I hated seeing myself in photos/having my photo taken, but Ethan Klein from H3H3prductions said something along the lines of when someone looks at a picture of you they just see you and think “oh! a person I know,” not hateful thoughts.
23. “Unconditional love.”
I helped my gf overcome her most severe self-esteem issues with years of unconditional love and support.
When she gained enough stability and trust she exposed herself to social situations she formerly avoided until she overwrote her traumatic teenage experiences with good ones…
24. “Growin up.”
I did. It was a combination of growing up, achieving things that made me realize my abilities, getting out in the world more, and comparing what I’d accomplished with the accomplishments of others.
25. “Keep these words in mind.”
Keep these words in mind. You are the product of natural selection by all your ancestors. Never compare yourself to others, because you are a completely unique individual.
If you compare, you will despair because of course there a people who are better at you in something, but if you think in the positive, you are good if not great at some things.
26. “I had a lot to offer the world.”
I dated a girl who made me realize that I had a lot to offer to the world and that the self-hatred that I struggled with was a product of Asian parents and bullying.
We ended up breaking up because she realized she’s gay, but we’re still good friends.
27. “Being kinder to myself.”
I still struggle with “imposter syndrome” but in college I had severe depression and very low self-esteem.
My therapist back then helped me understand that I was engaging in a lot of negative self-talk, so my low self-esteem was purely because I was telling myself I wasn’t good enough.
I also told my counselor that I wanted to work with kids and he said “You would never say these things to children, so why do you say this to yourself?”
Seems silly writing it out, but honestly that helped me so much in changing my mindset and being kinder to myself!
28. “The reason partially disappeared.”
It has been different things and I surely don’t know every one of them. A big one for me was that the reason partially disappeared.
People used to not listen to me or stop listening out of nowhere or when someone interrupted me. Including my parents.
That changed in school after changing class. While talking, I was thinking to myself why people listen to me because I thought of myself as worthless.
Then I realized that I’m not. But I also noticed that others knew it and still made me feel that way by how they’ve treated me which caused frustration that I still haven’t worked through.
29. “I just started caring less.”
I don’t think I overcame it as much as I just started caring less.
I hit my 30’s and just cared a lot less of what people thought of me and had less of a need to seek approval or validation from others
30. “Seek therapy.”
Hi, I don’t really have an answer to this question, BUT if your self esteem is severely low and you feel like it’s affecting your life negatively then you should perhaps seek therapy.
A lot of self esteem issues stems from specific moments in your life and it could be good to have someone to talk to about this.
I am going to do this soon, and I think that you should consider it if you have this problem.
If you’re struggling with this sort of thing, just remember, you don’t matter any less anyone else. We all deserve dignity and happiness.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
Tell us in the comments.