how to overcome low self esteem and depression
how to overcome low self esteem and depression? Depression sometimes comes from negative self-talk as a side effect of self-esteem. Other times the source of depression can be something completely different. So let’s start with self-esteem and then move on to how you can overcome depression.
Low self esteem and how to overcome it
My favourite definition of self esteem that I’ve come back to several times on this blog. Is that it’s the reputation you have with yourself. If I remember it correctly it’s from Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Make sure you check out that book. The main key to building self-esteem to be integrity. Living in line with your values. For example if you’ve promised yourself that you will never smoke cigarettes again. And then you pick up a smoke as soon as two hours later. Then how do you imagine that you could ever trust yourself again?
Achieving a high level of self-esteem will allow us to:
- Give up bad habits
- Start new good habits
- Make the right choice in tough situations
- Develop confidence
- Raise our standards and start achieving greater things
- Like ourselves
- Develop our self-discipline and motivate ourselves
- Get people to like us
We could go on with this list all day but you get the point.
I will assume that from reading this you get an idea of how important developing a healthy or high level of self-esteem is. And already have an urge to start moving forwards in this area of your life. Great! Now that we’re done with why you need a high self-esteem then let’s move on to the how to overcome low self esteem and depression. Let’s start with how you are treating yourself.
It’s more common than one can think to bash on oneself for making mistakes. Having a bad day or being lesser than someone else. We tend to compare ourselves with others instead of appreciating that we have been progressing these last 5 years for example. We all know what effects bullying or being treated like a lesser by a boss or a colleague does to us. But we never think of the consequence of treating ourselves as lesser than others.
Let’s get to how you can treat yourself better. Start with looking at how you are treating your best friend vs how are you treating yourself? What would you say to your best friend after he’s made a mistake or performed poorly?
It’s not “You suck, why didn’t you do better than that?” So why would you say anything like that to yourself?
Start identifying how you are treating yourself and the more you get aware of your behaviour the easier it is going to be to change it. Awareness in it self can some times fix the problem. And as with anything else, the first step to changing a behaviour is to break your current pattern. So try to catch yourself as soon as you are being mean to yourself. Because the more you break that pattern the weaker it gets.
To simplify this:
- Write down 10 things that you say or do to yourself that you would NEVER say or do to a best friend.
- Instead of these 10, now write more empowering things you could say or do in the same situations.
- Keep this list where you can see it. The purpose of this is to increase your awareness of this poisonous behaviour. Since changing something you are not aware of is hard.
The next step is to see what rules you are breaking. And I’m not talking about the law here, I don’t care if you would be breaking the law either, that’s none of my business. Instead I’m talking about the rules which you have created by and for yourself. Your judgement of what is good and what is bad. We all have a different perception of what is good and what is bad. And whatever yours might be that is fine by me, we are all different.
The thing is, when you break your own rules, you brutally slaughter your self-esteem. To clarify even further since this is very IMPORTANT. When you do anything that you perceive as being bad, that is whenever you do anything that you know you shouldn’t do, you associate yourself with being bad or doing the wrong thing. And you probably don’t love the villain in movies and neither do most people. So how can you allow yourself to slowly turn into the villain in your own eyes? This has to stop. every time you break your rules you turn more and more into a Sith Lord. And will eventually have to buy a red Lightsaber. Which would be rather expensive so let’s avoid that all together and join the good guys again.
So then, how do you get Yoda on your team again? Start with finding where you are making the wrong turns and change that by committing to never again letting the dark side win against you. If you want to be the hero, the main character of the movie then you must summon your strength and become the person that can make the right decision. No matter what.
You can do this by trusting your gut feeling. When something feels wrong, when you start getting this weird feeling in your stomach. Almost like a stone trying to clog up your digestion and blow up your chest. Every time you feel any negative emotion, know that it’s your body giving you a call-to-action.
And the emotion will disappear shortly after taken the right action. While if none is taken the feeling will remain and stack on top of the previous one and the one before that until finally you explode.
This said, next time you feel angry or sad, ask yourself why and how you can fix the source of the emotion. Don’t do nothing, always act on your emotions. At least acknowledge the feeling and evaluate whether taking action is worth it or not. But do not ignore the monster as it will get angrier and demand your attention even more.
Then let’s now get onto how to deal with depression that might or might not be caused by self esteem issues. Since ‘ how to overcome low self esteem and depression ‘ is the question we’re asking today we can’t miss out on the second half.
How to overcome depression
Depression can exist for several different reasons. What you need to remember is that depression doesn’t have to be permanent. You can choose to stop being depressed. What I mean is not that a simple choice will stop your depression, it’s a bit more of a struggle than that. I will break it down into a couple of categories that you need to get straight to overcome depression.
First, you must change your belief about depression. Depression is not a permanent state. And I don’t care if your doctor or psychiatrist said you have incurable depression. There are human error in a diagnosis, it’s biased and subjective. The chance you will get the exact same diagnosis every time if you go to 10 different clinicians is non-existent. Instead of listening to their words of doom, ask someone who got through depression for advice and take destiny in your own hands.
The chances are that you already believe depression is something you can overcome since you came this far and are reading this. If so, then the belief is not your problem but rather how you live your life.
We humans have several needs, the most basic are food, water and shelter. Many also believe we have emotional needs. By fulfilling these needs we become happy and find emotional satisfaction in life. I will break down these human needs, what they are and how to fulfil them. This segment is heavily inspired by Tony Robbins so make sure to check out his Ted Talk on this subject as well as his books.
According to Tony, there are 6 human needs. By fulfilling these you can get through the second part of how to overcome low self esteem and depression. The depression part. These six are as follows.
In order to be happy we need to grow and improve. By getting progress we build not only our skills and resume. We also build ourselves up, boost our confidence and self esteem. If you’ve ever improved in any part of your life you know how amazing it feels to get better at something.
Giving to others feels very rewarding. It makes you feel like you have a meaning to live outside of for your own sake. If you can help others then your life was not a waste of space and time. To clarify, contribution does not mean donating 1$ to charity every month. Contribution means helping others, whether friends and family or complete strangers. It means doing what you can to help. Whether it’s an old lady struggling carrying her groceries or a friend who needs help to quit drinking. Contribution is more of a mindset change than anything else. Whatever you can do to help, you should. Live your life for others rather than for yourself.
Connection is an obvious one and has the most clear connection to how to overcome low self esteem and depression. By connection we mean human connection. Feeling like you’re a part of something, a family, a group or a relationship. Feeling close to others. Both physical touch and emotional support is a big part of this. If you’ve ever seen a very poor big family, you know how much impact this has on your happiness. Though barely being able to buy food, they seem so happy.
Significance is a bit of the opposite to connection. It means feeling unique. You need to feel connected but you also need to feel special. We all have different levels of these needs we need to fulfil to be happy. Some people need to feel more significant than connected and vice versa. That’s why there’s people who put a lot of effort into being unique. Like getting a lot of tattoos or piercings. Crazy hair colors etc. While others tend to conform to the mainstream.
Certainty is also an obvious need. This is the need to stay in your comfort zone. It doesn’t help much with the esteem part of how to overcome low self esteem and depression. But it helps with the depression part. I found myself sleeping in my friends living room for 6 months recently. And not having my own space took away this certainty I’ve always taken for granted. By not having my own room and the lack of privacy made me feel uncertain. And I became depressed and did many other things to get to stay in my comfort zone.
Uncertainty is the polar opposite. This is the need for new exciting things. The need for surprises and challenges. Though comfort is important, there’s a balance as to all things in life.
Try to analyse your current life situation and see how many of these needs you’re currently fulfilling and what you can do to fulfil all of them. This might be the only thing you need to change to overcome that nasty depression. The case might also be that there are some other things you need to change. Let’s go through some other theories as well.
Having a mission means having a reason to get up in the morning. It means having something that is more important than yourself. Something to always fight for. This mission is what many call finding the meaning in your life. Having a mission might be the only answer you need to how to overcome low self esteem and depression. By waking up and knowing what you have to do. Or even what you want to do can get rid of those moments of just lying in bed thinking about how annoying and sad everything is.
Finding your mission is the difficult part. Try looking at what you wanted to be when you were a kid. What problem do you see in the world that makes you bubble with anger? Try asking yourself why you do what you do. What you would do if anything was possible? Or what you would do if you had all the money in the world? The only way to find your mission is through looking within yourself.
State & Habits
This one is rather simple but can be very helpful. Your emotional state affects your mood. If you are often in a powerless negative state, this by itself can cause depression. So how does your state affect how to overcome low self esteem and depression? You have the experience of feeling happy and good during certain moments in your life. I bet you are not depressed 24/7. You might be depressed the majority of your day. But there are certain actions or habits that make you feel happy or at least feel nothing.
By putting yourself in a better state of mind you can feel happy for a moment. And if you keep putting yourself in this state, you can be happy more often until this becomes the normal. By changing your habits to become more empowering you can live a more happy life. Try doing a couple pushups and tell me that you feel depressed while working out. Or take a long warm shower and tell me you feel depressed during that. Take a long walk or eat your favourite foods. I bet there are things that make you happy, so find these and make them your habits.
Finally, feel grateful! Like Tony Robbins says, it’s impossible to feel miserable and grateful at the same time. So look for things to be grateful for. It can be small things like meeting your friend today. You can be grateful for having food on the table or for not being dead. Feeling grateful can put you in a better state temporarily. And by making this a habit you will fill more and more of your day with feeling happy. Until eventually you feel happy all the time.
To summarise this, how to overcome low self esteem and depression? Be grateful, work on your habits. Get a clear vision of your mission. Make sure you believe that you can change. Take control of your human needs and work on yourself and build your self-esteem by following your own rules.