Women who come to me don’t always know they have low self-esteem. They have perhaps been to medical doctors who have given them medications for anxiety or anti-depressants, which makes sense, because low self-esteem can look like those disorders. Symptoms of low self-esteem in women can look and feel almost natural in certain ways.
Women have always been the second class citizen until recently. Your typical woman has been fighting for equal pay, equal representation in government, and shared household respect since the dawn of man. Some of the beliefs we were taught along the way have carried over into daily life and can cause the painful low self-esteem from which so many women suffer.
Symptoms of low self-esteem in women may seem very familiar to some of you ladies that have just been trying to make it through this life. All the things you do can be exhausting: caring for you kids, caring for your husband, pursuing your career, going back to school, building a business, keeping the house clean and organized, maintaining vehicles, keeping appointments managed and doing it all with a big smile. Because, without that smile… there must be something wrong, right? It can be hard to hold it all together, but it’s important to recognize when it’s time to begin working on you, letting yourself off the hook and incorporating a new way.
Here are some symptoms of low self-esteem in women that you can spot right away either in yourself or in others:
Depression: We have a limited amount of mental energy. Those with low self-esteem can spend the majority of that mental energy on worries about how she is perceived. What others may think about how she raises her children, cares for her home, her husband or any number of smaller things. This can cause her to go into a tailspin spending all of that precious mental energy on perceptions that may be simple illusions.
Anxiety: Fear of doing something, saying something or acting in a way that can cause embarrassment are major components to anxiety caused by low self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem can avoid interactions with people to eliminate the possibility of making a mistake. No one likes to make a mistake, but those with low self-esteem will beat themselves up for it long past what is necessary. I sometimes ask clients that if they were to see someone else make that mistake or create that problem how would they feel toward them. Often the answer is “Well, it’s not that big of a deal.” Followed by a “but.” “BUT, I have to take responsibility for that, what if I do something wrong and everything falls apart, maybe that’s a small mistake, but what if the next one is worse, then I have to tell someone about it. Oh, that would be bad.” You can see how one even a small thought can spiral out of control for someone with low self-esteem. It’s as if one thought catches another and they push themselves deeper into a chasm of anxiety and despair. At some point in her life she learned the consequences of failure, and the fear comes from that place. It doesn’t have to be that way, and I help people overcome low self-esteem daily.
Unreasonable Expectations of self and others: These symptoms of low self-esteem in women would be incomplete without mention of expectations and perfectionism. Expectations move her or him to react in ways that cause a lot of frustration and poor self-talk. On the one hand having expectations are good, they help to keep focus and pursue dreams and goals. However, the person with low self-esteem will already be seeing a goal or dream as an unattainable thing and still put themselves in a position where they can feel the failure even before the project starts. Seeing the project as an insurmountable obstacle and unable to complete it perfectly, the job either never gets done or it takes a very long time. Everything feels overwhelming and difficult. Procrastination comes in as a valid idea, “Oh, I’m just a procrastinator; I’ll get to that tomorrow.” When in actuality they are uncertain of the outcome of that project, who will see it, who will judge them for it, why they were wrong for even thinking they could do it and then all these braking thoughts cause them to come to a screeching halt in their process. Symptoms of low self-esteem in women can feel overwhelming, but once the person with low self-esteem breaks through the old way of doing things they face this fear and choose to complete a project. They begin to build trust in themselves. They begin to find other projects they can do to make themselves feel even better. It’s a process and sometimes it starts by taking a project and making it about you and the project, not you and everyone else in the world or worse yet, you and a parent. Psychologists say that low self-esteem comes from childhood and most often from how your parents saw themselves and their environment. Neglect, isolation, abuse, fear of being reprimanded too harshly for doing something incorrectly (etc.) are all causes of low self-esteem.
Other symptoms of low self-esteem in women include, but aren’t limited to: hypersensitivity, non-constructive self-criticism, unhealthy relationships, self-sabotage, feelings of inadequacy. Often those with low self-esteem hold themselves back from living a truly amazing life, but it doesn’t have to be this way forever.
Your Professional Friend, C.Ht.