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20 Things That Low Self-Esteem Steals

People don't often realize how much self-hatred robs them.

Key points

  • People with low self-esteem tend to believe that their feelings of self-hatred are fully justified.
  • People who believe that self-hatred is valid fuel the belief that they don't deserve love, hope, and other emotional birthrights.
  • Viewing the symptoms of low self-esteem as "thefts" or things taken from them unfairly can help sufferers reframe pain.

The worst part of self-hatred is believing you deserve it, and it's also the defining characteristic of low self-esteem. Those who suffer from low self-esteem tend not to fight it because they view their self-hatred not as an affliction but as the sole possible reaction to facts.

Whatever or whoever facilitated the belief, whether self-hatred was wired into our limbic systems by trauma, abuse, or our own DNA, as studies suggest, the first weapon must be to realize that self-hatred, low self-esteem's main trait, is tragically unfair.

The following is a list of comforts, milestones, or states of mind that people with high and even medium self-steem consider birthrights or givens. To those with low self-esteem, such comforts are impossible luxuries because they were stolen by self-hatred.

Maybe you have never felt these. Maybe you dimly remember some from long ago, before they vanished—yoink!—from your consciousness. Attached to every listed item is the twisted low-self-esteemy logic that facilitates its theft.

S. Rufus
Source: S. Rufus
  • Confidence–because how dare we believe that we can contend, compete or win?
  • Trust–because why would anyone treat us fairly or well?
  • Accomplishments–because we lack the confidence to even try.
  • Free time–because we must spend every second overcompensating, pleading, fretting and regretting.
  • Serenity–because what right has anyone so grossly flawed to remain calm?
  • Courage–because courage is strength, and we are weak.
  • Fun–because we don't deserve it, haven't earned it; at its first spark, we must suspect trickery or doom.
  • Compliments–because, although we might receive them, we cannot believe them, thus can't keep them.
  • Companionship–because, expecting rejection and mockery, we don't reach out.
  • Pride–because...riiight.
  • Accurate memories–because our rear-view mirrors, splattered, warped, and cracked, blur and distort every reflection.
  • Spontaneity–because we must micro-manage every thought/word/action to avert our next big blunder.
  • Outward-directed anger–because whatever anyone has done that harmed or maddened us, surely we asked for or deserved it.
  • Passions–because desire, pursuit and pleasure bring us only failure, shame, and pain.
  • Satisfaction–because surely we have done too little or too much.
  • Hope–because what right have we to expect betterness or ask for anything?
  • Love–not because "you can't love others if you cannot love yourself," which isn't true, but because our relentless self-abasement scares others away.
  • Faith–because what deluded deity could ever love us?
  • Certainty–because how can someone so wrong ever be right?
  • Self-compassion–because ... see this entire list.

Theft is a funny, stark, harsh word. Does asthma steal the uninflamedness of the lungs? In some sense, yes. And just as we would never say that someone with asthma "deserves" to choke, we can ask whether we deserve the symptoms of our ailment and its cost.