By Natasha Singh
Toxic masculinity and peer pressure have done a lot of damage by preventing men from opening up and talking honestly about their self-esteem issues as it, apparently, crushes the concept of the alpha male. But no matter how much it is avoided, low self-esteem creeps into all areas of life unwittingly.
Self-esteem is how we value ourselves. It’s a mindset. Or in the words of Jack Canfield, “Self-esteem is made up primarily of two things: feeling lovable and feeling capable.”
How low self-esteem manifests itself
Low self-esteem manifests itself in a variety of ways. If you have low self-esteem, you might find yourself in a situation where your partner complains about you being over-critical most of the time. It’s not that you enjoy destroying the other person; it’s just that you can’t help reflecting your own low self-confidence onto the other party. You’re struggling. You might have a pessimistic approach towards life which doesn’t allow you to embrace any big responsibility (read – commitment). Again, this is not by choice. This is the fear and belief of not being capable enough to handle if things go wrong.
Low self-esteem can make you gullible but can also make you an egoist making it hard to accept if you make a mistake, and equally harder to take criticism positively. Because your internal dialogue is fogging your brain, telling you that you aren’t good enough, you simply don’t have the bandwidth to hear additional negativity. It can also contribute to feelings of insecurity and jealousy.
Men suffering from low self-worth might come across as really driven, competitive, and even wanting to change the world. This unstoppable hustle, however, could well be a grand camouflage to bury your own thoughts of being unworthy. Similarly, seeking attention from different partners can stem from your need to feel worthy, because they you feel that worth internally.
What causes low self-worth?
Rather than glorifying and justifying the impact of low self-esteem on people and their loved ones, this is your wakeup call to acknowledge your real self, notice the traits, and work them to become a better version of you.
In most cases low self-esteem arises in childhood or from a drastic negative life-changing moment like being bullied, having critical parents or loved ones, or growing up in an abusive environment. Such influences can lead to imbibing beliefs.
Sensitive and emotional boys have been undermined throughout time, with primary caregivers pricking their confidence. “Not man enough… not strong enough… not good enough – it’s so easy to bully a child into believing this. It’s sad to observe this defining moment may have passed a long time ago, but the beliefs that became ingrained from such language still have a lasting effect.
Reclaiming lost self-esteem
There are tactics to implement to challenge self-worth and reclaim lost self-esteem:
Sit, reflect, and write down your negative beliefs
This requires a bit of revisiting and reflecting on the past. Try jotting down all possible negative self-talk and if you can, what triggered them in the first place. Remembering the incident can throw light on the possibility that the event might be insignificant in the context of the present and help you to clear the hype around your beliefs.
Ask close ones what they admire about you
Once negative beliefs are framed, it’s futile to immediately write corresponding empowering affirmations, because going from one extreme to another in a jiffy would be rejected by the subconscious. There’s no point in framing affirmations that the mind doesn’t believe in. They have to be genuine.
First, get in receptive mode to build up the momentum of believing your positive qualities. Gather close ones or colleagues and ask what they admire about you. It provides something to hold on to and believe about yourself. Journal it in a diary to remind you of your strengths and read through in the morning to start the day on a good note.
This process shifts the focus from finding shortcomings to finding positive qualities. What makes the journey easy, it that the good attributes are easier to believe because they come from others.
Establish what you’re good at
You probably have a hobby, gift, or talent that you’re good at. Practice it at least once a day if possible. When you do something you naturally excel in, it makes you connect to yourself, feel more alive inside and it puts you in a place of confidence to see things from a perspective of change. Before you hit the hay, revisit this sensation of feeling good and confident.
Accept and promise
By now, you should have garnered some self-appreciation fed in with the above activities. It now becomes time to accept your shortcomings. Rather than looking at low self-esteem as damaging beliefs about yourself, look at it as an area of improvement. Accept that this has caused chaos, but also promise that within a dedicated timeline, through setting goals, you can make changes to progress in this area.
Instead of framing an affirmation, write down an empowering promise that you can work hard and put effort in to improve your self-esteem. This sets you on a goal-getting journey, rather than pointlessly attempting to accept a fake belief that your brain will reject.
Set a goal and divide it into smaller achievable goals
If your self-belief tells you, “I’m unlovable”, identify the qualities you find loveable about yourself. Don’t forget to mention the traits that your loved ones highlighted and the hobbies you’re good at.
After that, set a routine for the whole day, linking goals with activities which result in a statement like “I love how I… (the activity performed)”. Be that cooking a healthy meal, making a presentation, catching up with a friend, taking the paw-friend for a walk, or connecting with family.
Frame goals with statements like “I love how well I cook”, “I love how I make presentations on time”, or: “I love how I am always supportive of my friends”.
The bottom line is to set a specific number of goal activities for a time frame, allowing you to see the progress in the concerned area. Give at least 90 days to analyze if there is any change in your beliefs that directly impacts your self-esteem. Allows yourself to fail or miss some too, if you accommodate room for error, it wouldn’t dampen your spirit.
Spend time with people who uplift
While on this journey, it’s important to spend time with people who support, encourage, and be your cheerleaders. Find a community that can give honest feedback but also fans your flames to do better and be your support system to become a better person.
Self-esteem is fundamentally your self-beliefs. Change beliefs and you’ll notice a change in the way you value yourself. We live in a time whereby talking about self-worth should be celebrated, there are myriad resources available to seek help from, and there is a movement gaining momentum to remove the stigma once associated with men opening up.