Low self-esteem and the comparison conundrum

When we are kids we love attention. We love when people play with us, and we don’t mind shouting our accomplishments at the dinner table even if that accomplishment was using the big-kid toilet that day. When we’re kids we have the benefit of innoncence and our worlds are small. As we age we learn that the world is a vast place…and maybe I was good at this one thing but, look, this person is…better?

These are jarring moments and they typically reach a crescendo in the teen years where embarassment is almost always lethal and a zit has you calling out of school for a week. It doesn’t always get better in adulthood either. We learn to hide it better, and maybe hide that blemish under makeup and still make it to work on time but those feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty still ruminate in us adults.

We look to others and see what they have, do and are and we look at ourselves and we see things that to us ‘lack’. She’s got a higher paying job than I do, he’s got a wife that plays video games with him, they just bought a house, had a kid, lost weight. The list goes on.

Comparison to some extent is normal. It’s motivating to some degree and a little bit can be healthy. When it becomes paralyzing, that’s when help is needed. When those thoughts of “I’m not good enough.” start invading your everyday self-talk and you start believing it, we get into shaky territory. Maybe self-doubts have been part of your nature for as long as you can remember, perhaps negative life experiences have resulted in some negative core beliefs that have been running the show behind the scenes for far too long. If that’s the case a deep dive into what’s driving the boat can do a world of good in improving those feelings of low-worth and low self-esteem.

So whether it’s wishing you could change one aspect of your life, or wanting to change it all, each one of us can do work. Maybe that means taking a social media fast, maybe it means being more open about your feelings, maybe it means taking that yoga class you’ve been meaning to go to. Whatever it is, know that you have the power to address it and when that’s not enough know that you can always reach out to loved ones, friends or a therapist.