4 Habits That Hurt Your Self-Esteem

February 19, 2014 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

There are many habits you mindlessly engage in each day. From getting out of bed on a particular side, to checking your Facebook or Instagram while eating breakfast, or stopping at the same gas station after work. Each day, each moment, is an opportunity for you to do something that builds your self-esteem or sabotages your self-confidence. The more mindful you are, the better decisions you will make for yourself.

Habits That Hurt Self-Esteem

Cassandra was in her late twenties and had been feeling dissatisfied with many areas of her life. On the outside, most people would consider her "put together." She had a good job, friends and a supportive family, but wasn't feeling happy. She noticed that bad habits that used to feel helpful were actually starting to weight her down.

Are habits hurting your self-esteem? Emily Roberts identifies 4 common habits that hurt self-esteem and how-to get rid of them for good.She often avoided getting her mail until the box was overflowing; she didn't want to feel the anxiety of seeing all the bills. Late bills and phone calls about money she owed left her feeling bad about finances. She browsed the web when she was bored at work, but noticed that every day she would wind up looking at an ex's Facebook page, leading to feelings of rejection. After a long day, she would throw her clothes in her closet, which wasn't so bad, if she picked them up once in a while, but she never did. This lead to endless mornings of feeling like she had nothing to wear and running late in wrinkled shirts. Each day started like this: frazzled and feeling frustrated with herself.

These little acts of disorganization or dysfunction may seem minimal, but when Cassandra added them up she realized these smaller actions were part of a bigger issue. It wasn't just "procrastination" or feeling "lazy," these habits kept her from feeling good about herself in many areas of her life. What habits are hurting your self-esteem? (read: Act Opposite to Increase Your Self-Esteem)

Habits That Do More Harm Than Good

When you stop and ask yourself, "What is the function of this behavior?" or "Why am I doing this?" You become more aware of the reasons these habits are hard to break. These habits bleed into other areas of functioning. Maybe you stop at the coffee shop before work every day; the caffeine your doctor told you to avoid and the $5.00 drink keeps you energized but your bank account and confidence are drained. Think of a few things you repeatedly do that may not be helpful. Here are some common ones.

1. Avoiding Adult Tasks. Paying bills is frustrating especially if it brings up feelings of lack of self-esteem and replays messages you received about money from your childhood. The problem with avoiding is the bills pile up and so do the feelings of inadequacy. Instead, come up with a plan to pay bills online or enlist a friend to help you stay accountable. It's not easy, but living within a budget can break through the money or financial fears you may have which are keeping you locked into this bad habit. (read: Behave Like an Adult and Build Self-Esteem)
Are habits hurting your self-esteem? Emily Roberts identifies 4 common habits that hurt self-esteem and how-to get rid of them for good.
2. Uncontrolled Clutter. Have you ever looked at your desk or home and thought, "When did I accumulate all this?!" Papers, clothes or even a disorganized purse can keep you searching for stuff, running late and reinforces habits of disorganization in other areas of your life. Clutter drains your energy and dampens your intentions. It's like a mirror into how you feel about yourself; the more you pile it up, the worse you feel. Feng Shui expert, Rodika Tchi has some great advice: "Plan to 'underachieve' instead of 'overachieve.'Start small and time your efforts. For example, give yourself 25 minutes for a specific area, and when the time is up, just leave it. You've done great."

3. Putting Off People. Your parents leave you another voice mail, your old college pal sends you another email (the third one this week) and you have to get back to these people. The more time you put it off, the more it feels like a burden and gets bigger in your brain. It can be exhausting to deal with others but it drains you if you don't do it soon. Call your parents while you are on your way to work or an appointment so you have limited time to talk, or spend 10 minutes getting back to people. Once you get it off your plate, you will feel more confident.

4. Waiting Until The Last Minute. We tend to get a "rush" when we wait to the last moment to do something: order the tickets, pay a bill, or fill up with gas. However, it leads to anxiety and unnecessary stress. The moment you notice your mind avoiding, handle it then or set an alarm to do it when you get to a place in your day where it's appropriate.

Practice becoming aware of unnecessary stress. Like Cassandra, all of us have a few habits that can be broken. She began to put her energy towards positive habits and made an effort to begin implementing small changes: going to the mailbox each Monday and spending 5 minutes each night laying out her outfit for the next day. Break the little habits, but first identify them and assess how much extra stress they add into your life.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2014, February 19). 4 Habits That Hurt Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 18 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Melanie Lapensee
February, 22 2014 at 4:05 pm

I agree with number three, dealing with things head on is really important, as is surrounding yourself with positive people. Another thing that can help your self-esteem with ensuring you have positive energy in your life. As a holistic therapist, I talk about it a lot on my Facebook page:

Dr Musli Ferati
March, 14 2014 at 1:50 am

For me, in my old adult age, the second one recommendations exhibits useful life habits. Indeed, anyone should to plane its time, in order to accomplish purposefully its intention end demands, as well. Beside this benefit, the ability to accomplish planed things leads to sense of fulfill and pleasing as prerequisite of good self-esteem. On long time perspective this daily life habit makes rich personal experience as crucial condition of successful and useful person in global assessment functioning (GAF). By other words as much high score in this perplex life scale, we would become happier with our global life achievement. Some other contention in life didn't have to get!

October, 19 2017 at 11:03 pm

I'm facing many things like this but always I felt bad.not arranging my purse, not car wash, not good dressing and many more. I feel always hurt .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2017 at 9:17 am

HI Bilal, sorry to hear this. I know it can be hard to change your thinking from negative to more positive and I would suggest reminding yourself before each task that you are doing this to improve your confidence. If it's one minute or five minutes you are doing something on purpose to try to feel better and that is awesome. I would also suggest looking at some of the other self-esteem blogs on reducing negative thinking. This may help Keep me posted.
Take Good Care,

October, 20 2017 at 8:45 pm

Yes I know I have low self esteem problem. I want to improve my self esteem but when I faced any difficult situation like anyone misbehave with me, negative thinking pattern,not good routine. But I want to improve my self esteem but how ?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Emily Roberts
October, 24 2017 at 8:46 am

Good question, I think it starts with one day at a time and noticing your negative thoughts then reframing them. There are a lot of good techniques in the blogs did you find one yet that can help…. I really like starting the day with positive self-talk even if it feels fake at first, your mind will adjust with practice. I hope this helps :) Emily Roberts MA,LPC

Supermom Ciera
February, 16 2018 at 5:17 am

Dr. Emily i am a 25 year old mother of four toddler girls (1-6) and lately i have been having difficulties getting out of bed or even getting myself presentable throughout the day. I have a fiance and we have been together for three year and he is the father of my last two girls. He says i am depressed because im not where i want to be in life. He does not believe he is the cause of my depressions or lack of self esteem. He has never hurt me physically but he speaks alot of mean things on a daily even as far as calling me out of my name and cursing my existence. Needless to say I have been very down on myself. How do i improve my own ways of looking at myself without the self guilt and hatred i'm getting from my fiance everyday is there a way for me to tune it out?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Emily Roberts MA, LPC
February, 16 2018 at 10:52 am

Hi Ciera- I'm so glad you are writing!! You sure are a supermom two girls is a lot of work!! Watch the FB live I did with HealthyPlace on Love and self-esteem. (if the link doesn't work let me know :) Also, have you ever done any couples counseling or coaching. The first step is to practice more self-love and I do find that couples therapy can help. Let me know and I am so glad to hear from you.
Emily Roberts @GuidanceGirlEm

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 22 2018 at 6:07 pm

Hi Supermom Ciera! I'm sorry to hear this is happening and I'm proud of you for reaching out. Would he be open to doing couples work with a therapist or someone in your community with you? Often times our partners need to hear about how we are feeling and we need to hear how they are feeling and this helps with a neutral person in the room to help you both communicate better. I would also suggest sharing some resources with him on how depression impacts people differently if you can. There are lots of good resources in our HealthyPlace blogs for partners and expressing yourself is important however, doing it when you are in mindful moment, and one where he is too, is a good start. We often try to have conversations when people are dysregulated or we are frustrated, it usually leads to more frustration. However, being mindful of yourself and his mood too may help you express your needs and get him to hear you.
I hope this is helpful let me know.

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