Do You Make These 5 Common Mistakes and Get Stuck in Low Self-Esteem?

Written by Henrik Edberg

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Nothing is more important than your self-esteem.

How you think and feel about yourself. Basically your opinion about yourself.

Why is it so important?

  • It makes life lighter and simpler. When you like or love yourself then you won’t make as many mountains out of molehills. You won’t beat yourself up as much over mistakes.
  • You’ll self-sabotage less. With better self-esteem you’ll feel more deserving of good things in life. And so you will be more motivated to go after what you deep down want and put up less obstacles in your own way.
  • You’ll be more attractive in any kind of relationship. Because you’ll bring less drama and unnecessary conflicts, be more resilient during tough times and simply feel happier and have a more positive attitude.

So how do you raise your self-esteem and reap these benefits?


Well, in this article I’d like to share 5 common mistakes I have made with my own self-esteem. And also what I have done to fix these mistakes by replacing them with healthier strategies and habits.

I hope this will help you to raise your awareness about your own self-esteem and give you the practical tools that you can use in your own life.

1. You don’t take the time to focus on appreciating yourself.

It’s so easy to get lost in focusing on the things that are wrong with oneself. On failures. On flaws.

And while it is good to learn from the past it is not healthy to look at yourself through this warped and negative lens every day.

What to do instead:

Start with just taking a 2-minute self-appreciation break each day this week.

Sit down in a quiet place, take a deep breath and relax. Then simply ask yourself this question:

What are 3 things I can appreciate about myself?

It doesn’t have to be only big things, it could just be that you are punctual or that you flossed this morning.

By doing so for just a little while day after day your perspective on yourself will start to change. And your reactions to situations and the thoughts that pop up during the rest of your day will also start to become self-kinder.

2. You go for perfect.

Doing things perfectly can feel like good choice. If you just do something perfectly people will praise you. You won’t risk being criticized and you’ll feel good about yourself.

But perfectionism can be a very destructive habit.

It can get you stuck in over-thinking and paralyze you from taking action. Because you become so afraid of not living up to an inhuman standard.

Or you take action but are rarely satisfied with what you have done and your own performance.

And so your self-esteem sinks.

What to do instead:

Go for good enough. When you aim for doing something perfectly then it usually winds up in not being done.

So learn to go for good enough instead. Don’t use it as an excuse to slack off but simply to get the task or project to done instead of preparing or polishing on it too much.

3. You get stuck in the comparison trap.

Comparing yourself to others and their lives can feel good. You may have better grades, be in better shape or have a nicer house.

The trouble with this mindset though is the dark side of comparing all the time.

That dark side is that you can never win. There will always be people that are better than you at something or that have more or nicer things.

What to do instead:

Replace this destructive habit with comparing yourself to yourself.

Look at how far you have come so far. Focus on how you can and how you have improved your results.

This will both motivate you and raise your self-esteem.

4. When you stumble, you drag yourself further down.

We all stumble, fail or make mistakes from time to time. It is normal and it happens to anyone who wants to do something of value in life.

But how you handle these situations makes a big difference for your self-esteem and success with whatever you deep down want out of life.

A common way to deal with these situations is to beat yourself up about your mistake or failure. I have done so more times than I can count. It might feel familiar and helpful but is not a healthy option.

What to do instead:

When you wind up in one of these situations be kind to yourself.

One habit that has helped me with this is to ask myself:

How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation?

Think about it and then do things and talk to yourself like this person would.

This habit will help you to not drag yourself down into despair and self-loathing. And it will also help you to be more constructive after the first initial pain or shock after a failed exam, a date that didn’t go well or a setback while working out starts to disappear.

5. You hang out with the wrong crowd.

The people and sources you keep in your life, the input you get will have a huge effect on how you think and act.

So be careful.

Don’t let people close to you or via the internet, TV or magazines drag you down with unrelenting criticism, pessimism or perfect ideals.

What to do instead:

Think about the people and sources of information you spend the most time with. And ask yourself these two questions:

  • Who are the 3 the most negative and energy-sucking people in my life?
  • What 3 information sources seem to have the biggest negative effect on my mood, thoughts and self-esteem?

Consider your answers.

Then think about how you can spend less time with one of these people and one of those information sources this week.

Finally, take action on one of those things today and get the ball rolling with shaping your environment to be more supportive and positive.

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About the author

Henrik Edberg

Henrik Edberg lives on the west coast of Sweden and has been writing about living a happier and healthier life for the past 7 years on The Positivity Blog. Tens of thousands of people subscribe to his free newsletter.


  • One other thing I definitely feel is damaging to self-esteem is procrastination. Thinking ‘I have all day, all the time in the world, so I’ll just laze around for a bit longer.’ If you do this, you end up getting into a lazy negative mindset, and in a funny way begin to feel more stressed and under pressure. I always used to find when I was studying that I would do more, and feel I achieved much more, and would feel so much better, if I had been reading for 15 minutes on the bus to work, where time is limited, than my having a whole weekend free to study. In the latter case, time is ample so you lazy around a bit (‘oh I’ll just check my Facebook, just have another snack…..’) so you use that time very inefficiently, and maybe do a lot less in actual work than on the days you have to fit study in between other tasks! The laziness due to ample free time means that at the end of the weekend your self esteem can hit rock bottom.

  • Hi Henrik,

    I was guilty of “2. You go for perfect.” in the past. It can be very frustrating when I am trying to be perfect at everything. At the end of the day, I realized that nobody is perfect. Nowadays, I strive for excellence instead of perfection because I actually get better at what I do whenever I do it again when I adopt this mentality


  • Agree with all of them Henrik apart from number 2.
    I think we should aim for perfection in things which are important to us. Sometimes doing well just isn’t good enough and it’s no use never trying and telling yourself perfection isn’t possible.
    It all depends how you define perfection though. It’s subjective. One persons idea of perfection might not be another s but this should never stop you settling for less than anything less than everything you want.

  • Good and a thought provoking post indeed. #5 is very important since we are what our environment it. if the people around us are negative, it would have a negative influence on us.

  • I agree with what Chuck said, number 5 is such a big one. I use to have negative people in my life all of the time and it really does bring you down. It reinforces of all your own negative self talk and makes your negative thoughts stronger. They also negatively compare you to others. So you have your own comparisons you make bringing you down and then the negative one’s that others tell you also.

    I think 5 is the key for a lot of change.

  • Hi,

    That is a thoughtful post.I concede we are all guilty of approval seeking sometime or the other.
    The urge to constantly seek approval,to seek applause for our selves is an omnipresent weakness.It is concealed deeply and subtly within the unseen folds of our intentions.We are always looking out for others to acknowledge us,our behaviour,our conduct ,our appearance,our mannerisms, our knowledge,our possessions.
    Seriously,sometime soon, we need to sit down calmly and examine our proclivities.Why must we always be on “show”?Who are these people from whom we seek constant applause?How important is it really?What if we don’t get that approval and praise?What if we do,then what?Where is our genuine self hidden?How is this mindset contributing to our,or anyone else’s progress?

  • Hi Henrik!

    First, I’d like to say I’m a reader of your great blog :)

    Totally agree with you on not focusing on appreciating yourself. Especially when we’re constantly trying to better ourselves, sometimes we forget to acknowledge our strengths also and to have that balance!

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Hey Henrik, Another great positive post!

    I think that number 5 you hang out with the wrong crowd is a big one. Bad influence can really get deep into you!

    I’m now totally intolerant to people who bring negativity in my life, If you don’t bring something good to the table, your fired! Family included! They can have a second chance of course but being family is not a free pass to bring people down.

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