Practical ideas to restore self-esteem in men

How men can restore self-esteem by Rolando A. Hyman MA, Certified Counselor (CCPA)

Over the past ten years in my role as a therapist a common thread that is explored with clients is the need to be more confident and overcome self-doubt. The need for personal psychological wellness is one of those assets that is craved by many individuals in the community. What is most interesting is that there are many persons who struggle with admitting that this is an underlining issue that they have. This short article will seek to speak about self-esteem and how we can overcome some of the barriers that keep us in an isolating psychological state that fuels this belief about self. This form of denial is particularly prevalent in the male population because of how it is perceived in the cultural societal context. Speaking from experience there are many men who do not feel confident about their ability to participate in certain activities related to dating, public speaking, being very self conscious about their physique and feelings of insignificance.

In most places of the world the lack of self-esteem in men and women have become a multi-billion industry as many persons are finding reasons why they must upgrade to get better lips, hips, nose and cheeks and the lack of self-esteem protrudes to the extent that is it never enough. In others words the look I was born with needs help or I will “never” be beautiful or live fulfilled. Several other things occur in the lives of other individuals like an obsession with piercing or total covering of the body with tattoos. The lack in self-esteem is also observable in many men who are involved in excessive steroid use because they believe that having a body that is fully inflated with muscles is the ultimate booster for having self-worth. The definition for self-esteem is confidence in ones worth or abilities, it is also described as the strength of individuals to tackle the problems they encounter and their self-value perceptions (Mruk, 2006).

Exposing the barriers

In order to overcome self-esteem and some of the barriers we must start at the core by identifying the source of the issue, we must then seek to find the solution to overcome this issue and work on identify self improvement goals as a part of your maintenance plan. Oftentimes the real source of the issues that exacerbates these traits that cause us to struggle with self-esteem is based on a connection that we had with someone that was important in our life. This is often authoritative figures like a coach, uncle, older sibling, grand parent, teacher, or parent. This is more ingrained when we are in a vulnerable state of our early development like toddler to late adolescent. Our experiences and exposure at this stage opens us to questioning our worth and who we are as individuals. This is when we are challenged to answer the question “who am I.” The desire to find oneself is an ingrained practice found in almost every individual. Having low self-esteem will lead us to bad decision making and associations with those who take advantage of us and expose us to more abuse and hurt that continues the cycle of abuse and self doubt.

The void that is obvious that there is an issue with self esteem is seen in those who perpetrate aggressive behaviors in the form of gang violence, domestic abuse and verbal and emotionally abusive language that is seen in males and females. Our need for validation leaves us in a place of vulnerability and not knowing the authentic model of healthy relationships opens us to get caught in a maize of false representation from those we perceive as having our best interest at heart. In our cities several young men and women are involved in unhealthy lifestyle practices that puts them at risk because they struggle with self-esteem. It is also highlighted that low self-esteem is one of the main contributors to mental disorders that are related to anxiety and depression (Sowislo & Orth, 2013).


Mindfully overcoming the barriers

Therefore, how do we overcome this issue, and get to the root cause? According to research evidence it is suggested that human beings be more accepting of their reality. The more we try to resist or suppress

these emotions is the more harm will experience emotionally, we must learn to surrender to this reality (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). To overcome these obstacles, we will need to develop the ability to look through a lens that not only sees the negative experiences but the positive ones as well. It is learning to not only embrace the failures but to celebrate the success (Atalay, 2019). This is one recommendation to practice the art of mindfulness to initiate radical acceptance as a part of the process to override the influence of low self-worth. This acceptance will be implemented when we are able to gaze in the face of judge mentalism and override the program (Ninivaggi, 2019). Additional research evidence recommend that one must not try to eliminate the negative experiences fully because in our lifetime there will be several events that are not positive. Trying too heard to totally erase these experiences will add to more psychological distress (Demir, 2014).

One cannot ignore the depth of trauma and abuse on our psychological well-being and this is an issue that needs to be properly addressed and treated to restore self-esteem. The severity of this impact varies based on the individual and the amount of time that is occurred. There is some persona who they were not physically or sexually abused but the verbal and emotional abuse has left them questioning themselves and compromising their values on the quest to find a place to belong. An important step is to seek out professional help as soon as possible and during this pandemic it is more accessible than before and is available in the form of phone, video or even email counselling. It is important to realize that the most difficult part of the process is to take the first step and then once you find a good fit the journey will be much easier. It is also important that when the process is started that you do not quit because that could be counterproductive in the end.

Another vital part of the process to improve self-esteem is to be open to exploring various thoughts and emotions that would contribute to strengthening self-esteem and evicting self critical thinking (Pepping, O\’Donavan, & Davis, 2013). It is therefore suggested that one of the approaches that will help to alleviate the challenges with self-esteem issues would be to practice the positive effects of mindfulness of life satisfaction to evoke more self sufficiency and build positive self-esteem (Pepping, O\’Donavan, & Davis, 2013). Overcoming self-esteem issues will require a purposeful approach and awareness of ones reality and taking the time to slow down and confront the issue through mindful awareness and radically accepting the reality of the experiences and its impact but not having unrealistic expectations that we can totally get them out of our psyche. While recognizing that it is possible to radically accept the emotional impact and re-affirm ourselves that we do have worth and we can overcome and go against the odds to beat social anxiety and self depreciating thoughts and rebuild our self-esteem.


Atalay, Z. (2019). Mindfullness conscious awareness; The art of being present with conscious awareness. Istanbul: Inkilap Publishing House.

Demir, V. (2014). Depression and stress levels of individuals in the training program based on conscious awareness. Istanbul: Arel University Institute of Social Sciences.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catostrophe living: The program of the stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre. New York: Delta.

Mruk, C. (2006). Defining self-esteem: An often overlooked issue with crucial implications. In self-esteem issues and answers: A Sourcebook of Current Perspectives. In C. Mruk, Defining self-esteem: An often overlooked issue with crucial implications. In self-esteem issues and answers: A Sourcebook of Current Perspectives (pp. 10-15). New York: Psychology Press.

Ninivaggi, F. (2019). Learned mindfulness: Physician engagement and MD wellness. Oxford, UK: Academic Press.

Pepping, C., O\’Donavan, A., & Davis, P. (2013). The positive effects of mindfulness on self-esteem. J Posit Psycholl 8, 376-386.

Sowislo, J. F., & Orth, U. (2013). Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychol Bull, 213.

Sowislo, J., & Orth, U. (2013). Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psycholl Bull 139, 213.

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