What low self esteem is really like

Lots of people have low self esteem, it’s a modern epidemic. I have chronically low self esteem, it’s a really bitchy bullying voice who loves to put me down at every given opportunity. If I’m generally up and happy, feeling safe and secure I am usually able to shut the voice up, or at least turn down the volume. But if I’m feeling edgy and vulnerable, a little bit low and anxious, the voice roars at me. I know lots of other people feel that way too.

How does it feel to have low self esteem? Or how does it feel for me with low self esteem? Everyone is different but there will be common threads.

I feel unworthy, worthless. Like a waste of space and a waste of a life. I speak at times with a little voice because my voice isn’t worth being heard, especially not by the vastly superior human who has spoken to me.

When a close friend doesn’t invite me out, or keeps secrets from me, it’s because I am nothing and worth nothing and they are simply tolerating my friendship because they have better friends, friends who are funnier, better company, more intelligent, attractive and they just hands down prefer them to me.

If I work hard on a project but the recognition for my hard work goes to someone else, this makes me feel like my work isn’t worth being recognised and that everything I do is pointless. I am diligent, I work hard and I work long hours, I don’t earn very much despite my long hours, but I usually love my work. It’s nice occasionally to get a pat on the back.

I look in the mirror and all I see are faults. I hate myself and everything about me. Comments and suggestions made by other people in an effort to encourage me just make me feel even more horrid. My Dad asking how my diet is going when he sees me eating something, anything, doesn’t matter if it’s lettuce or dust it just makes me feel like crap. My husband (who means well) complimenting me on my hair colour by saying he likes how it looks patchy and not all the same colour. Patchy should never be used as a compliment.

I hide behind a scruffy, shambolic image because it’s easier to be like this and not compete with the beautiful people. The people with the good jobs and the perfect hair, the people who are better than me. All the people.

And this. Writing this whiny little post about how pathetic I am makes me feel pretty shoddy too. But someone once said that writing was therapy. Low self esteem sucks big time. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, to feel so low and worthless at times that escaping this life seems the only option. But it’s not an option, I need to break the cycle because it’s not fair on me and it’s really not fair on my son.

low self esteem

Compliments for beginners

Last week I received a compliment, I’m fairly sure it came from a loving place, but it came out all wrong. For about three minutes I was mortally offended and rather indignant, but then the giver of the compliment explained it and it made some sense. The compliment I took offence to was “Your eyes look very much like Mark Rylance when he’s looking slightly worried”. This is Mark Rylance, he’s looking worried, do I look like this?


On further examination I discovered the compliment meant my eyes look very thoughtful, like there are deep things being considered in my head. Fairynuff. My eyes generally get lots of compliments, which is nice.

I’m sure everyone has at sometime been given a back handed compliment. I’ve almost given up wondering why people can’t just say “your hair is nice” rather than “is it meant to look like that?”. My family are experts in making me feel like a muddy troll wearing tattered sackcloth whenever they see me. Compliments are just not done and if they are they’re clearly meant as a ‘could try harder’ motivational piece of sarcasm.

If you sometimes give compliments, especially to ladies like me who rarely hear something nice about themselves, then I’ve put together a list of nice things I think are good to try and say to people, and a list of things you should NEVER say to people, but have regrettably been said to me, sometimes more than once. Is it any wonder I have the self esteem of a worm?

What’s good:

You look nice.
You look pretty.
Haven’t you got lovely eyes/hair/smile.
That colour really suits you.
Have you lost weight? You look great.
You’re beautiful.
You’re hilarious, I love your jokes.
I love spending time with you.
I love your perfume, it really suits you.
You write beautifully.
Being with you makes me feel good.
You’re such a good person/mum/writer/driver/lover/maker of tea/whatever.

What’s not good:

Is that how you meant your hair to look?
Are you wearing make up, or do you have two black eyes?
*looks at old photo* Oh you used to be so pretty.
You should wear black more often, it suits you, makes you look slimmer than you are.
You’re not very wrinkly, but that’s probably because you’ve got a fat face.
Your eyes look very much like Mark Rylance when he’s looking slightly worried.
Oh, you’re not very tall are you?
Gosh you can drink a lot can’t you!
Have you moisturised? Your face feels greasy.

What’s the worst compliment you’ve ever received?

How positive thinking turned my life around

Low self esteem sucks. Feeling down on yourself the whole time and having that negative voice in your head pointing out all the bad things about you takes its toll. My negative voice tells me all kinds of “home truths”. It tells it like it is and is brutally honest. Whenever I tell someone else what this negative voice is saying they usually give me a whole list of reasons why it’s lying to me. Over the years I’ve worked to silence that negative voice. How? Through positive thinking and positive talk. Here’s how I did it.

A wise old man once sat me down and gave me a talking to. I needed to stop listening to the lies my negative voice told me and I need to drown it out with positivity. Every morning before the day got started I was to write down three positive things about me and my life. It could be about anything, including little wins I’d had in the previous 24 hours. Slowly this started to work. Slowly I stopped absolutely hating everything about me and my life and slowly I began to see positive things and make positive changes.

Positive thinking

In the spirit of sharing, I’ve decided to write down ten things which are good about me. A little bit of positive thinking never did anyone any harm, and for me forms part of my daily self care routine. Focus on the positives and less on what I think is bad. How’s that for real positive thinking?

♥     I am funny and quite quick witted.
♥     I’m creative and can think on my feet.
♥     I am a good mum. No, I’m a brilliant mum.
♥     I’m a good friend.
♥     I am very caring, I love to take care of people.
♥     I have nice, dark, soulful eyes.
♥     I’m honest and open.
♥     I have decent legs.
♥     I’m brave and stronger than I give myself credit for.
♥     I know I can and will survive what life throws at me.

It’s not all positivity. I could write a list of negatives more than twice the length of this little list, but I wont, because who wants and actual list of everything they think or imagine is wrong with them?

Positive thinking has changed my life. What I do can’t work for everyone, but it can’t hurt either. I know that drowning out my negative voice has helped me to step away from antidepressant medication (under supervision).

Positive thinking has helped me see more good in my life than ever before. I don’t skip through life carefree and bursting with positivity, but there is more of a balance between the good and the bad. If I find myself slipping, I just turn to my notebook of positive things and good memories and I’m reminded that I am ok. That I am worthy and I am valued and valuable.

Read more about how my low self esteem effects me here.

How positive thinking turned my life around