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Guilt Associated w/ Low Self-Esteem


Lenara
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I've suffered from low self-esteem my whole life. Sometimes I think I was born that way, but is that really how it works? I suppose not.

I've tried coping with it by finding other things to occupy my time, making friends, immersing myself in my hobbies, but I've never really managed to solve the problem, just forget about it for various periods of time. And avoiding to deal with the problem has only managed to make it worse, I believe. In the past few years, my low self-esteem has reached debilitating proportions. Most of the times now, when I look around, I only see people who are superior to me in some fashion (they have better social skills, more self-confidence, less anxiety, etc.). By comparison, I naturally feel inferior, although I realize on a conscious level that it is not necessarily so. It's like an automatic response, like looking at yourself in a mirror formed by the other people and seeing yourself as the opposite of what they are.

My predicament is compounded by the fact that I have begun to feel guilty for having low self-esteem in the first place, as if it's some sort of disease or as if I deserve it. That's actually a twofold problem. On the one hand, I feel that if I have low self-esteem, there really must be something wrong with me and I simply don't deserve any better. On the other hand, I feel that my low self-esteem itself is what makes me inferior to people and that they really must be better than me if they're not plagued by the same problem.

If you've dealt with the same issue, I would really like to hear how you live with it. Are these feelings of guilt normal or justified? Is low self-esteem really a stigma? If some people have high self-esteem, does that really mean they're better?

Thank you.

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Hi Lenara. I've had issues with low self esteem for as long as I can remember, and I'm only now coming to understand how serious and all-encompassing those issues are. My low self esteem and constant critiquing of myself has held me back in pretty much every area of my life.

I can confidently say, however, that the feelings of guilt and inferiority are not justified. They are pretty much "normal" for someone with low self esteem, and I've had the same feelings myself, but they aren't justified. I don't think anyone is "better" than anyone else, and I also believe that an awful lot of the people who seem to have high self esteem actually don't. Looking around, it seems to me that most people struggle, to some extent or another, with disliking themselves and comparing themselves unfavorably to others.

As for how to live with it, I'm now trying to attack my feelings of inferiority head on. Any time I think I'm less worthy than someone else, I force myself to question my assumptions. Any time I think negative thoughts about myself, I ask where those thoughts are coming from. Slowly but surely, I'm finding it easier to interrupt my usual negative mental commentary on myself. So while I expect that I'll never be one of those people who thinks they are just amazing, I also think it's possible that I can stop hating myself.

I hope that you find a way to deal with your self esteem struggles, Lenara. Take care.

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Thank you so much for your answer, Solstice! It's exactly the kind of reassurance I was hoping for, so I'm really glad I took a chance and reached out for help. I am no way happy that you are going through the same thing, but finding someone with a similar experience gives value to my own.

I've had issues with low self esteem for as long as I can remember, and I'm only now coming to understand how serious and all-encompassing those issues are.

You make an important point. I think not taking self-esteem issues seriously is where it all starts. I've tried talking to people before, but I only got responses such as, 'Oh, you're making too much of it!', or 'You have too much time on your hands if you have such concerns.' People who have never had to deal with this problem simply don't understand. But when you no longer trust yourself and your ability to discern between right and wrong, you feel compelled to talk to people you trust and ask for help. When those people knock you down with their indifference and dismissive attitude, you feel even worse. And you're right, self-esteem is very serious business. It can make you, or break you.

My low self esteem and constant critiquing of myself has held me back in pretty much every area of my life.

Same here. I also have feelings of regret and personal failure because of that. Many times I look at others who don't have self-esteem issues and who have managed to do what I was afraid to. But I know now that this is the wrong attitude. There really is no use in comparing myself to others since we're different people with different life experiences.

I don't think anyone is "better" than anyone else, and I also believe that an awful lot of the people who seem to have high self esteem actually don't.

Yes, that's what I believe as well. No one is inherently better than the next person. However, many people behave in that fashion. It's called arrogance and I think it's one of the ugliest traits a human could have. For a long time I've been in a very destructive relationship of so-called friendship with an arrogant person who didn't miss any opportunity to position herself a few heads above me. Now that I think about it rationally, I don't believe anyone actually has the right to do that. You could be a Nobel-Prize winner and it still wouldn't be justified.

As for how to live with it, I'm now trying to attack my feelings of inferiority head on. Any time I think I'm less worthy than someone else, I force myself to question my assumptions. Any time I think negative thoughts about myself, I ask where those thoughts are coming from. Slowly but surely, I'm finding it easier to interrupt my usual negative mental commentary on myself.

That's very good advice. I've also been trying to coach myself into dodging the poisonous bullets of my inner critical voice. It's working, sometimes more, sometimes less. And sometimes I just get tired of fighting and feel ridiculous and stupid because I can't even get along with myself. But I always realize that it's important to keep fighting. It's the only way to defeat one's monsters.

So while I expect that I'll never be one of those people who thinks they are just amazing, I also think it's possible that I can stop hating myself.

I hope that I can achieve the same. I do wonder though what it's like to think you're at least as good as the next person. Maybe one day I'll find out.

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Thank you. Yes, I do have some insight into my problems. I've had a lot of time to analyze myself and I am also inclined towards introspection. But sometimes it's good to verify your theories, which is why I'm here. Again, reading your post made me feel less like a crazy person.:)

Edited by Lenara
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