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How to Beat Low Self-esteem

My Strategy for Coping With Self-destructive Thinking

By Skye BothmaPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

“I’m a loser.” “I’m not good at anything.” “How could anyone love me?” I am no stranger to inner thoughts like these. As an introverted, sensitive person with health issues that limit me physically, I have always found it difficult to fit in with the crowd and been the target of countless bullies, and so ever since my childhood I have struggled to find my self-worth.

In my early adulthood I read many self-help books on the subject that helped to slowly heal some of my childhood wounds, and as I grew older I built up a sense of my own worth that is not dependent on the opinions of others. However, even now in midlife, I still have times when my belief in myself waivers, and I find myself thinking those destructive thoughts again. Recently though, I developed a new strategy to break free from these thoughts.

I’ve read about the benefits of positive thinking, but when you are down and feeling worthless, it’s very hard to think positively—it feels too fake. If I’m feeling like a failure, then telling myself to think positive and tell myself ‘you’re not a failure, you’re a winner’ is just not going to work. Usually when I have feelings of failure it’s because something I did has failed and so at that moment in time, I have the physical evidence of failure. How can I possibly say I’m a winner when there is nothing to back up that claim?

I know you’re supposed to look at it that failing at one thing does not make you a failure, and that overall you have succeeded at things, so you can say you’re a winner. And yes, that is all good and well, but when you are in the pit of despair, you really are only focusing on the present, and past successes don’t hold much value right there and then.

So, my new strategy is not to bother with positive thinking at all—it’s too unrealistic. Now when I am feeling like a failure, I don’t even try to see the positive in it. Instead, I now tell myself that though I failed, I deserve to succeed. When I feel unloved, I tell myself that I deserve to be loved. When I feel taken for granted, I tell myself that I deserve to be treated with respect.

When you feel you deserve something positive it makes it more difficult to continue feeling negative. Even if you haven’t changed your perspective on the current situation, your overall outlook is lifted.

Every living creature deserves to be happy, deserves to be loved, deserves to be safe and treated well, and deserves to thrive. And you are no different. Once you realise this, your self-worth is automatically boosted without any need for fake positive thinking.

If you deserve something, then it opens up future potential. You may have failed today. You may not have found love today. But because you deserve success, because you deserve to be loved, then it means that these things are there waiting for you in the future. You just have to hold on to the reality that you deserve them and keep on going.

Sometimes it may even be too difficult to believe that you deserve something. When this happens, remember that even the worst murderer who may not deserve to be treated fairly, has the right to be treated fairly and humanely. So remember to extend these rights to yourself. You have the right to be loved, you have the right to succeed, you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect.

Don’t deny yourself your own basic human rights! You have the right to have worth and nothing you have done or has happened to you can take this right away from you.

self help

About the Creator

Skye Bothma

Skye is a freelance editor and writer living in rural New Zealand, where she writes about life, love and what it is to be human. She is also the author of one novel and working on her next book. Visit her website at

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