By Kristen Clark
Don’t let commonly held myths interfere with your effort to build self-esteem. If you long to feel confident, self-assured, empowered, and ready to tackle the world, learn the facts about self-esteem and ignore the myths that can hold you back.
Commonly held beliefs are often grounded in long-standing myths lacking any real evidence to support them. Isn’t that true of so many things today? For example, feeding a cold and starving a fever is not always the best advice; being sick often kills your appetite so force-feeding isn’t necessarily a good idea. A wet head doesn’t make you sick, a low immune system does; you might feel chilly with wet hair, but not much else will happen because wet hair doesn’t increase susceptibility to infection. Julius Caesar didn’t wear a laurel wreath for victory’s sake; he wore it for vanity’s sake because he was going bald.
Unfortunately, myths like these also exist about self esteem. Did you know that people with low self-esteem aren’t always the product of a rough childhood? Even individuals who grew up in ideal environments can still feel insufficient, inferior, and undeserving. Increase your ability to build self-esteem by learning the facts about these dangerous myths.
Myth: People with low self-esteem were battered or abused as children. While this may be true sometimes, it is not always the case. I’m a perfect example. I was raised in a warm and loving family where I received constant words of encouragement and sufficient votes of confidence. However, I developed a low self-image as a result of misperceptions and seeing situations through distorted lenses. Many people suffer from low self esteem because of the way they misinterpret personal wants, needs, prejudices, experiences, education, and memories rather than their environment or the role their parents played in their upbringing.
Myth: Low self-esteem causes fear. Actually, low self-esteem is the result of fear. People with low self-esteem suffer from one or many fears including fear of doing something that will validate their inadequacy, fear of losing what they have, or fear of never achieving what they want. Fear of abandonment is also a significant contributing factor. Fortunately, feelings are not facts and people can overcome low self-confidence by first conquering their fear.
Myth: People with low self-esteem will never overcome it. Low self-esteem can be overcome with the daily practice of confidence-building exercises. Learning something new, sharing one’s expertise with others, and using one’s creativity build confidence. Developing healthy convictions, journaling through negative emotions, and learning to accept compliments also all build confidence. Self-esteem is how someone sees him or herself and can be nurtured just like any other character trait or attitude.
Myth: People with high self-esteem are arrogant. Arrogance is an exaggerated opinion of one’s worth or importance and is often displayed as superiority. In fact, many people who suffer from arrogance are really trying to cover their insecurities. Self-esteem, however, is a satisfaction with one’s self; a respect and regard for self. People with healthy levels of self-esteem are confident in their abilities and opinions without name-dropping, using condescending phrases, harshly criticizing or judging others, or appearing to know everything. They are comfortable with their strengths and don’t need to boast about their accomplishments. They are also comfortable with the weaknesses and can admit when they are wrong.
People turn their lives around every day by learning new behavior and thinking differently about themselves. People lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthier, and expand their knowledge all the time. Developing and maintaining confidence is no different, but desire without knowledge is ineffective (Proverbs 19:2). Don’t impede your efforts by believing the myths. The fact is, with intentional effort and discipline, people with deep insecurities can develop higher levels of self-esteem and live happier and more successful lives.
Do you feel scrutinized and judged by others? I can help you with that!