The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Anxiety
When I feel anxious, I tend to be very aware of the multiple anxiety symptoms I experience, including struggles with my confidence. However, because anxiety is something I've struggled with for years, this also means that keeping my self-confidence and self-esteem up has been a struggle for me for years as well.
Anxiety is associated with worry, fears, and often negative "fortune-telling." When you are anxious, you likely find that you dwell on painful memories of the past or imagine what could happen in the future. Usually, those future predictions are not centered on positive thinking. Rather, they tend to focus on all of the negative things that could happen, and those thoughts then result in anxious feelings. Instead of trying to quiet those anxious thoughts, we may find that it is easy to allow those thoughts to spiral out of control to the point that they become overwhelming.
What you may then find is that your thinking is focused on all of the mistakes you've made or can make, or all of the inadequacies you perceive yourself to have that have either led to mistakes in the past or could lead to all of those worst-case scenarios that you've envisioned for yourself. And so, when you've been thinking this way for quite some time, you have also focused on thoughts like these for a long time, and this wreaks havoc on your self-esteem.
Long-term, though, it is hard to break these habits. And when you're used to thinking this way, it becomes even harder to break those habits. But that doesn't mean there aren't things we can do to help this.
How to Boost Your Self-Esteem When You're Anxious
Even if you have been coping with low self-esteem and low self-confidence for a long time and it has impacted your anxiety and affected your daily life, this does not mean that you can't work on strategies to help boost your self-esteem.
Personally, this is a continuous work in progress for me and something I am often mindful of. Being aware of this has been vital for me, not just for managing my anxiety but also for taking advantage of opportunities in life. This has also been critical for me for combating the negative self-talk that I've been so accustomed to throughout my life. Below are helpful strategies for boosting your self-esteem:
- First of all, be aware. Be aware of the cycle of negative self-talk and how it impacts your confidence, how you feel about yourself, and how this then results in more anxiety and more negative self-talk. A great way to do this is to write these thoughts down in a journal. You might find yourself surprised by some of the things you say to yourself.
- Second, be compassionate. Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. Be kind to yourself when you do not complete a task "perfectly." Think about what you would say to a friend in a difficult situation. Being compassionate helps us to realize that we are all human and that we all make mistakes. Acknowledging our humanity is critical in setting realistic standards for ourselves.
- Don't be afraid to challenge your negative thoughts. Once you are aware of the negative beliefs you have about yourself, identify the good. Identify positive things about yourself, such as things you have accomplished and things you know you are good at. If you have a difficult time with this, write down positive moments and memories in your life. Focus on the positive rather than the negative.
- Step outside of your comfort zone anyway and try something you were initially afraid to try. Last time, I talked about taking a leap despite feeling anxious. Sometimes, you can acknowledge that the anxiety is there and simply tell yourself to leap anyway before you let the anxious voices stand in your way. Once you do something you didn't think possible, it can be a tremendous boost to your confidence.
Try these strategies to help you increase your self-esteem even though you are anxious. Share any techniques you use to increase your self-esteem in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, January 18). The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/1/the-relationship-between-self-esteem-and-anxiety
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
This is such an interesting connection to look at and one that we might not even realize is there. It can be so easy for anxious feelings to heighten struggles around self-esteem and confidence. I love all of these suggestions. Sometimes, I find that nothing is more powerful than challenging those negative thoughts. Put yourself back in the driver's seat, don't let the thoughts just run away with you.
Thank you so much for your comments! I agree, there is so much power in challenging negative thoughts, as difficult as that can sometimes be to do. But I believe that in being mindful of the benefit of this, we can take helpful steps in this direction, to keep those thoughts from becoming overwhelming.
Thank you! Stay safe and well.