4 Ways You Are Ruining Your Own Self-Esteem (And What To Do About It)

Self-degradation. It’s something we all fall prey to, especially women. A vicious closed loop— easy to enter, difficult to escape.

Even confident, attractive, successful women put themselves down “in order to protect themselves from envy and jealousy.” Women know how dangerous it could be to evoke envy in same-sex situations, professional or otherwise. Many use self-deprecation as a defense mechanism.

But most women spend an inordinate amount of time hating on themselves. A recent study found the average woman puts herself down eight times a day, with many doing so first thing in the morning.

Think about that.

If you find yourself being mean to yourself before yourself even steps out of the front door, something has to change.

If it doesn’t, it will affect everything in your entire life. Your relationship with the all the Important Things: Love, Work, Family, Friends.

It may be cliche, but it’s no less true: To show someone else love, you must love yourself. Here are some ways you may be self-sabotaging without even realizing.

1. You compare yourself to others

Social media is a powerful tool and one that many women use to build and destroy their own self-image. It’s no news that comparing yourself to others on Instagram leads to feelings of failure, depression, and inadequacy.

It’s important to remind yourself it’s all facade. Truly.

Psychotherapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW said it best: “I emphasize that just because someone else appears happy on social media or even in person doesn’t mean they are happy. Comparisons only lead to negative self-talk, which leads to anxiety and stress.”

In other words, you are comparing yourself to something that isn’t even real. You are setting yourself up to fail.

Try: A positivity journal

This sounds corny, but hear me out. Use the time you spend mindlessly scrolling the ‘Explore’ page of Instagram to do something productive.

Check out The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal for inspiration— It requires you to write just one sentence per day about something you are grateful for.

Are you healthy? Can you move your body around? If so, start there. It’s all that really matters in the long run.

2. You Can’t Say ‘No’

Many of those dissatisfied with life in general share this one simple characteristic: They are unable to say ‘No.’

Like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples of consequence spread out farther and farther until dissatisfaction seems like the problem instead of a symptom.

The inability to say No to friends, loved ones, or your boss wears you down physically and emotionally, forcing your brain to see life’s circumstances as beyond your control.

It’s important to remind yourself that people-pleasing will ultimately cost you.

As Dr. Susan Biali writes, “Your boundaries and needs don’t actually go away. In fact, if you avoid expressing them when you should, it is guaranteed to cause problems. The ostrich who sticks his head in the ground and keeps it there will eventually get run over by a bus.”

Setting boundaries for yourself is not selfish, it’s self-care. And since saying ‘no’ is a learned behavior, it is possible to unlearn.

Try: Saying No.

I know, I know. If it was only that simple…

It can be. Think about it this way: there are different ways to say ‘no’ depending on the circumstances.

In a professional situation, try saying ‘no’ without actually saying the word. If you are overloaded with work and your boss throws something else on you, say “I don’t think I’m going to be able to finish all of these projects and give them the focus they deserve. Can you tell me what to prioritize for today, or take me off Project A until I complete Project B? “

To social situations, just literally say the word ‘no’ because your friends will understand. They’ve done it themselves one million times. On that note, stop saying ‘sorry’ all the time.

The inability to say ‘no’ causes people to stay in relationships that hurt them. Take a nice long look at all your relationships, and determine whether or not they serve you anymore. Do they make you happy? Do you feel supported and loved? Are they helping you achieve your goals and become the absolute best you? If not, you know it’s time to cut the cord.

Fast Company has a great article on how to Just Say No to various players in your life. 

3. You aren’t moving enough

Everyone says it, but that’s because it’s true. Moving your body literally heals it and boosts creativity as well as self-esteem. There is nothing exercise doesn’t benefit both within and without.

“Use it or lose it”is basically a law of physics and applies to everything in this world.

You don’t have to sign up for a marathon. You just have to take a step. And then another.

Naturally, diet follows on the heel of fitness. You’d be surprised at how your body actually wants healthy foods after a workout.

Try: An Exercise App

Motivation is hard. I get it.

Finding time to go to the gym is hard, and being surrounded by a bunch of smelly people isn’t for everyone. Luckily, it’s the age of the Internet and there are super-efficient ways to get sweaty without leaving your living room.

Check out this list of 12 workout and exercise apps to get you started. If you improve just 1% a day, that’s a 30% improvement every month. Huge!

4. You Don’t Give Yourself A Break 

And I don’t mean the sort of ‘break’ that consists of laying on the couch watching Netflix, although this kind of break is important too.

I mean you don’t give yourself credit for your accomplishments. You don’t take 5 or 10 minutes every day to disconnect from all screens and connect with your own body and just breathe. You let a speed bump derail you you instead of accepting it for what it is— A speed bump. Life is laden with things that’ll slow you down. If you harp on them instead of pausing, accepting, and moving on, you will spend more time in neutral than is necessary.

Try: B-R-E-A-T-H-I-N-G

It’s easy! You already do it everyday.

Now take 5 minutes a day to close your eyes and breathe. No distractions.

Like exercise, the benefits of meditation are…everything. It ups happiness, health, immunity, focus, social connection, motivation, life satisfaction, and—you guessed it!— self-esteem.