I hate myself. Have you said this lately?
If you have said “I hate myself,” lately, please read on. For you, being a teenager is hard enough. You might be trying to figure out what to do after high school, your classes and schedule may be stressing you out, or your after-school job is hard to deal with.
You might also be dealing with some more serious things. You may be getting teased or harassed in person or online. Your home life may be difficult, dealing with your parents or guardians. You may be suffering from a sadness you just cannot get rid of or you may be dealing with depression.
All of these situations may have you feeling bad about yourself. This is usually referred to as low self-esteem.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem:
Here are some signals that you may have low self-esteem:
- Nothing seems to feel like fun anymore.
- You feel worthless, guilty, sad, angry or disappointed with yourself, or just plain “bad.”
- You feel tired all the time, or oversleep every day.
- You have headaches and aches and pains frequently.
- You have lost or gained a lot of weight lately.
- You feel hopeless for the future.
- You are thinking about suicide, or fantasizing about what life would be like if you were no longer around.
*If you are considering suicide, please reach out to someone and talk. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their live chat.*
One of the first steps to recovery is to recognize that there is a problem. If you are able to see or sense that you are suffering from a lack of self-esteem, then you can start to find help and feel better.
How Do I Feel Better?
If you have recognized that you are suffering from low self-esteem, you may now wish to feel differently. You may also need help.
There are several options to begin to improve your self-esteem. Here are some suggestions on how you can start today.
Say “Hello” to your inner critical voice. You may not have realized it before, but part of the reason that you have been feeling bad about yourself is that “inner critic” that “speaks” to you in very negative ways.
This is also known as a “negative inner voice,” or “inner dialogue.”
These are messages we hear inside our minds that tell us that we are no good, that we will fail at what we are doing, that we are fat, or ugly, or stupid.
Have you “heard:”
“You can’t sing! You’ll never be in a musical!”
“You don’t have any friends. No one likes you!”
“You’re so stupid. You’ll never do anything special and never go anywhere.”
We’ve all heard these messages. They are all wrong.
It takes a while to recognize the inner voice (and it still may get to you sometimes), but once you do, you can anticipate when the negative thoughts are coming.
When you feel one of those messages coming on, you can stop and say to your inner critic:
You can follow up with a more reaffirming message.
“I see what you are doing. I am going to practice my song and do my best.”
“That is not true. I have great friends who make me laugh and feel special. You are wrong.”
“That is a hurtful thing to say. I am going to have fun in high school, doing all the things I am interested in, and then figure out if I will go to college, or a trade school, or into the military. I haven’t decided yet, but I will, and I will do whatever makes me happy!”
Doing this takes away the strength of the negative message. It also allows you to take back your thoughts, and places you back into reality, instead of your imagined negative self-image.
Once you do that, you can call those thoughts out for what they are: false messages. They are not the truth about who you are.
Be good to yourself. So often we focus on the negative that we don’t give ourselves credit for what goes well.
When you are feeling low, remind yourself of your positive qualities, or the good things that have happened lately or in the past. It can be the smallest thing, like when you took your grandmother to the beauty salon, or completing that school project on time and getting a good grade, or being there for a friend when they needed it most.
Start a “positive habit” by writing down three positive thoughts a day for one week.
You can then post this on your Facebook wall, on your mirror at home, or on a notes app on your phone.
When you are feeling low again, go to that list and remind yourself of all the positive aspects you observed in yourself.
More than likely, you will feel better in a few moments. After a while, you may be able to recall that list from memory. You may even be able to slowly replace those immediate negative messages with positive statements about yourself.
So be good to yourself. Give credit where credit is due.
Talk to someone you trust.
It’s ok to ask for help. We all need it sometimes.
Talking about your feelings is a very healthy way to help you understand what you are going through.
Is there someone in your life that you regularly confide in?
A best friend?
Your mom or dad?
An aunt or uncle?
A coach or a teacher?
Find someone that you trust sharing your feelings with and let them out. You might cry. You might laugh.
Sharing how you feel helps you to accept your feelings and how you feel about yourself.
You might also discover a new way of thinking about your feelings. You might discover that they are just that: feelings, or thoughts. Thoughts are only as strong as the energy and focus that we give them.
Often when we hold back our worries or troubles, they can grow in strength. They start to occupy your mind all the time, and you lose hope, enthusiasm, and happiness.
Sharing allows you to take some of that weight off your shoulders.
It is hard to be a kid. You are going through a lot and you are hearing a lot of different messages from your friends, authority figures, and the media. You are being told how to look, to feel, to act, etc.
That can be a real challenge to you figuring out who you are. Your self-esteem can take a beating. You are not alone. You can get help. You can choose to find strength within yourself.