Nobody is shielded from having a sense of low self-esteem and low self-confidence. However, it is important to differentiate between feelings of low self-esteem from chronic sadness, or from the spiritual effects that occur during the Dark Night of the Soul. Those of us on the ascension path will undergo stages of psycho-spiritual crisis or the Dark Night of the Soul. It’s important to comprehend this process as a normal part of our spiritual awakening . Losing one’s ego identity and those material things that reinforced our ego, is a part of the sadness we may feel as we grieve its loss. Do not let fear of spiritual transformation take away ones self-confidence. Educate yourself about Ascension so that you are aware of this context of the “Dark Night of the Soul” as a normal stage of growth. We all undergo these feelings at certain times of ego dismantling.
There are a couple of symptoms of low self-esteem that one can be aware of if you feel that you or a loved one, may be suffering from the effects of consistent low self-esteem and low self-confidence.
First, it is important to realize that unlike chronic sadness or feeling like you woke up from the wrong side of the bed, does not automatically constitute low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is characterized as a consistent negative ego belief system about the self, with persistent attitudes that these thoughts reflect in the decisions and choices that person makes every day.
Destructive habits, recklessness and addictions erode self-esteem and confidence which may put a person in a cycle of depression.
This persistent low self-image can permeate into a person’s every activities, as it is at the core of a person’s conception and belief of his or her self-worth. When we have beliefs of low self-worth, we have low confidence dealing with our life and commonly feel threatened by other people or situations.
One of the first symptoms of low self-esteem is constant self-deprecation. One may find that a person with low self-esteem will easily say negative things about his or her self, passing comments even about how they are not good enough or worth any effort. They may also talk about their incapacity to fulfill their duties or get things accomplished. Many times they are afraid of learning higher knowledge or gaining truth, which hides a deep seated fear of being inadequate. Many times they will be very critical of others as they are of themselves.
In addition to self-deprecation, people suffering from low self-esteem will constantly express unhappiness about superficial things, like their bodies and how they look. Poor self-image is one of the most telling signs of low self-esteem. They may constantly be paranoid and sensitive about what people may judge them about them, such as, how they look or what they say. What’s worse, some of them may respond to this bad self-image through some form of addiction such as eating disorders.
People who suffer from low self-esteem may be obsessed with order and controlling behaviors, forcing themselves to comply by an impossible standard of perfection in whatever task they are involved in. This may make them work slower than others, and may make them more vulnerable to feelings of not doing well because of their own impossible expectations. This feeling of failure (despite the fact that they did not fail, except by their own impossible, perfectionist standards) helps further feed their negative perception of their own self-worth.
They may also be extremely eager to please, depending very heavily on the approval of others in order to feel good about themselves. They find no pleasure in completing and succeeding in tasks unless they are recognized by the people whose opinions they believe matter or are important. This leads to vampiric behavior when a person is dependent on others to feel good about themselves.
They may even be all too eager to compare themselves to other people that they may respect or have high regard to. However, it is important to note that these comparisons, fulfill the function of the negative ego highlighting what they lack and what flaws they possess. When they see flaws in themselves or in others, they may respond with self-anger or lack of self-acceptance. We cannot force ourselves to be something we are not and then berate ourselves for not being able to meet impossible standards. There is a balance we each must find to seek our true potential and then, be willing to commit to the ascension path, which is the path of becoming authentic.
While there are those who withdraw from society as a result of their low self-esteem, there are those who respond by uninhibited anger lashing out against themselves or other people. They may express this either by hurting themselves or the people around them, even if these people are not those who triggered feelings of anger. After all, because of low self-esteem, these people begin to hate themselves and direct hatred to the people around them. They are also likelier to suddenly explode in anger over very little issues at the drop of a hat, or when they feel that they are being cornered, threatened or humiliated. These are extreme cases of negative ego gone amok that is running mental and emotional fear programs. This is a symptom of soul disconnection. When we allow black thoughts to manifest a blacker mind, we are in danger of hurting and closing down our heart.
Self-esteem is a human psychological need and that to the extent this need remains unmet, pathology of ego defenses (controlling, anxiety, depression, difficulty in relationships, etc.) tends to result. Self-esteem formally is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness. While others (parents, teachers, friends) can nurture and support self-esteem in an individual, self-esteem relies upon various internally generated practices. As we commit to these internally generated practices, we build trust in ourselves. Simultaneously, this is at the core of strong self-esteem and confidence. All change starts within.
Learning how to trust oneself is an important part of gaining self-esteem and self-confidence. Be aware that poor self-esteem and lack of trust in our own abilities to learn and problem solve, will close our mind and harden our heart. Do not feel intimidated by knowledge, competence or other people that criticize to shut you down. Know that you are a worthy, valued and loved person. Stay strong to build core self-esteem and self-efficiency, knowing that you can depend on yourself if the going gets rough. Most of the fears we dwell on never come to pass. As you focus on building the right relationship to self-acceptance and self-love, this builds trust and confidence in oneself. Building trust in oneself and building trust with God are the only two relationships that we really need! With those two relationships and ego surrender, all else will fall into place.
To be responsible to take care of oneself is one way of building self-esteem and confidence. In Nathan Branden's framework, there are six "pillars" of generating and building self-esteem:
- Living consciously: the practice of being aware of what one is doing while one is doing it, i.e., the practice of mindfulness.
- Self-acceptance: the practice of owning truths regarding one's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; of being kind toward oneself with respect to them; and of being "for" oneself in a basic sense.
- Self-responsibility: the practice of owning one's authorship of one's actions and of owning one's capacity to be the cause of the effects one desires.
- Self-assertiveness: the practice of treating one's needs and interests with respect and of expressing them in appropriate ways.
- Living purposefully: the practice of formulating goals and of formulating and implementing action plans to achieve them.
- Personal integrity: the practice of maintaining alignment between one’s behaviors and convictions.
In order to improve our self-esteem we must build our confidence by emphasizing the internal qualities and virtues that we commit to practice in our everyday life as a philosophy that feels good to us. Once we have found an internal moral character compass that feels right for us personally, we must commit to those practices as a part of developing trust with ourselves. This means we follow through on what we say we are going to do. When we act in alignment with what we say, what we speak to others, we build self-esteem. If a person is insecure because they have told lies to themselves or told lies to others, in order to create a façade, their inner self-esteem and confidence will eventually crumble like a house of cards. Building brick by brick a healthy self-esteem means telling the compassionate truth and being honest to accept yourself as you are right now, as a worthy person.
By identifying the symptoms of having low self-esteem, you will be able to determine the best course of action in order to appropriately respond to people and all life circumstances. If you feel these symptoms are impairing your ability to function, then seek support strategies to clear negative ego and intend to build improved self-esteem and confidence. There are many tools on this website to clear negative ego attitudes and negative emotions (fears). This all helps to reprogram one's mind to find healthier beliefs and start to strengthen one's self esteem and build self-confidence.