No "self-esteem" at all

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2005
No "self-esteem" at all
9
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 1:00am

All my life, I have been told that only narcissists have any self-esteem, that SE is unattractive, especially in women. The men in my life (as in father figures) both told me that the only time they find a woman attractive is when she has no self-esteem, that a woman having self-esteem is a turn-off because she seems cocky/narcissistic/full of herself. I've been told that I'm stupid, ugly, and have always believed that. I thought I found someone a while back who thought otherwise, but then I heard them talking to other friends when I "wasn't there" (I was, they just didn't realize it).

So now, I'm 29, have zero "self esteem", and honestly can't STAND getting compliments, because I feel like I'm being lied to. I've tried being grateful, or at least acting like it, but instead of building me up, compliments bring me down even more. Even around others, hearing them talk about themselves, it really bothers me and makes me not want to associate with or be around them in any way. In my mind, it makes them seem like they're full of themselves.

What's wrong with me? Is this a problem? If so, how do I fix it?




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 8:25am
thanks for posting, and welcome to the board. i think the men in your life had it all wrong - narcissists actually have LOW self-esteem; that's why they need others to build them up with praise all the time. (you can look it up, if you want to.) also, people who act cocky/full of themselves are almost always insecure, due to low self-esteem, so, again, the men in your life were wrong.

the first thing i'd do is make a list of all the things you've been told regarding self-esteem and think about each one and decide whether or not you agree with it. my guess is that you probably don't believe what you've been told (you wouldn't be here otherwise), but only you know for sure.

getting compliments annoys me, too, sometimes, because i feel that people can be fake and will tell you what they think you want to hear. so you might not be too far off with feeling like you're being lied to. i just take what others say about me with a grain of salt because their perceptions and moods change and to base my self-worth on that would drive me crazy. do you know what i mean?

other people talking about themselves can bother me, too, but i've learned to just tune it out. i figure that they're talking to make themselves feel better, but actions speak louder than words so i'd rather prove myself through what i do than what i say. can you learn to ignore them, and just focus on your own actions?

it doesn't sound like you have a problem, but it is really easy to be sensitive to external influences (what others tell you or say about you, etc.). the only thing that matters is what you DO. think of some things (even just one or two) that you are good at; it counts even if it's something that seems stupid to you or that you might take for granted (for example, i'm a safe driver and a halfway-decent cook). the idea is that everybody is good at something and you are no exception :) i'm going to start a new discussion above this one on the board about being good at stuff and i hope you'll add to it :)

again, welcome to the board, hope this helps a little (or, at least, gives you something to think about)!
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2005
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 12:31pm
Thanks for the reply. Just for clarification, though, it's not just the men in my life...it's the women, too, especially in my family.

I actually do believe what is said, because I see it every day. The most common things I've been told are that I'm fat/ugly, stupid, will never amount to anything, and no man will ever truly want me. It's hard not to believe those when I see them myself.

I will try to come up with at least one thing today that I'm good at.




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 7:55am
how do the women in your family act? do they seem happy with having no self-esteem?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2005
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 4:04pm
I wouldn't necessarily say happy, but content. Like they know it's their place. Does that make sense?




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Thu, 03-17-2011 - 8:25am
i guess so, but how do you feel when you watch them? do you feel content, too?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2005
Thu, 03-17-2011 - 11:37am
I honestly don't know if I'm content. Safe, maybe, but I'm not sure about content. This is so normal for me, anything else is really uncomfortable.




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Fri, 03-18-2011 - 7:55am
so it's familiar. i agree that anything else would feel uncomfortable, but are you looking to change how you feel about yourself, or do you want to stick with what you know?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-09-2005
Sun, 03-20-2011 - 2:52pm
I just feel like all this is wrong. I don't think people should be cocky or arrogant, and I still don't think they should be talking about themselves, but to know to yourself that you're okay...that would be okay, I think. But I don't know where to start that won't make me feel like garbage.




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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Mon, 03-21-2011 - 9:22am
you're right - to know to yourself that you're okay is what we should all be aiming for. it doesn't matter what other people say about you, and it doesn't matter how you talk about yourself to others (talking about yourself or receiving compliments just feeds your external ego; it doesn't boost your internal self-esteem). a lot of cocky/arrogant people just have big egos to make up for their lack of self-esteem.

as far as knowing that you're okay, i think it just takes time and practice. i try to think about it logically: there will always be someone ahead of me and someone behind me. therefore, i can't be the best and i can't be the worst, so i must be in the middle somewhere. then i don't think about it anymore. i think our culture emphasizes individuality and the "self" too much, and that can make a lot of people anxious because they want to be the best, stand out, etc., but most of us are just average and there's nothing wrong with that. so you just live your life, try to do something that you enjoy every day, help people when you can, and try not to think about your "inadequacies" too much, because we all have them. you know, you just do a decent job; that's all. after a while, you realize that you're okay.