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:
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 asshole 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 fucking 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 shit, 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 sh*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*ssed 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.
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.