How to develop confidence when you feel worthless, according to science
There are scientifically proven ways you can improve your self-esteem, right now.
- Low self-esteem can lead you to feel worthless, unlovable, and unwanted.
- Feelings of low self-esteem have been directly linked to aggression, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, eating disorders, and a general lower quality of life.
- By changing some of the things you do every day (how you dress, your posture, how you think of yourself), you can develop more confidence and higher levels of self-worth.
What is low self-esteem?
People who struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are also susceptible to developing mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Low self-esteem (and a lack of confidence in yourself) often leads to feeling bad about ourselves and our lives. People who struggle with feelings of worthlessness hold themselves in lower regard, often feel unlovable, unwanted, and incompetent.
It's very common in this situation to have a fragile sense of self that is often driven by feelings of worthlessness and an unmanageable lack of confidence.
This type of hypersensitivity can plunge someone into a state of profound depression with one single event that, for others, would not affect them very much.
Common symptoms of low self-esteem can include:
- Being unable to trust your own opinion, always thinking someone else's opinions are better.
- Not voicing your opinion or feeling confident enough in your ideas to share them.
- Being afraid to take on challenges with the fear that you will not be able to overcome them.
- Thinking you will "fail" or "be a failure" if you don't accomplish something (even if it's unrealistic).
- Being hard on yourself but lenient with others, even in situations very similar to your own.
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks, feeling emotionally drained.
- Going to extremes (either working yourself so hard and overachieving or hardly putting any effort in and underachieving).
- Pouring yourself into work to avoid the strain and fear that comes with more social situations like relationships and friendships.
How does low self-esteem affect our day-to-day lives?
According to a 2005 study published in the SAGE Journals, low self-esteem is directly related to aggression and antisocial behaviors. Low self-esteem is also linked to delinquency, particularly in young adults.
People who struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are also susceptible to developing mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Eating disorders are also common in individuals with low self-esteem issues, particularly emotional binge-eating.
A 2006 study by the University of Wisconsin, Madison also linked low self-esteem during adolescence to poor health, criminal behavior, and limited economic prospects during adulthood. The results of this particular study prove that self-esteem is an important construct that can predict real-world outcomes (in education, job success, lifestyle, and overall health) in people who struggle with it.
How to retrain your brain to replace low self-esteem with confidence, according to science and philosophy.
How you dress, the music you listen to and how you expect to be treated by others are scientifically linked to your self-esteem levels.
Wear black and invest in nice-smelling cologne or perfume.
How you dress (and how you smell) can make a difference. According to this 2015 study that assessed what colors people associate with different personality traits, black was voted as a "confident" color that makes people think of attractiveness, intelligence, and confidence.
In this 2014 study, 128 men were divided into three groups: one group dressed in suits, another in casual attire and the last group dressed in sweatpants.
They were then asked to roleplay a negotiation scene for getting a raise at work. The results of this study prove the men dressed in suits (dressed for success) scored higher levels of dominance, job performance, and confidence, which ultimately resulted in them getting better negotiation deals in the roleplaying scenes.
This 2009 study by researchers at the School of Biological Sciences (University of Liverpool) proved that how we smell greatly affects our self-confidence. Not only that but how we smell can also have an impact on how others view and treat us, which can also have a positive impact on our self-esteem.
Listen to bass-heavy music.
Did you know that the type of music you most frequently listen to can subconsciously be driving your insecurity? This 2014 study by Northern University explains that music with a louder baseline can make you feel more powerful, dominant, determined, and motivated.
Take more photos (including selfies).
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have conducted a study that proves taking photos of yourself (or seeing yourself in a mirror, paying attention to the way you look) can actually raise your self-confidence.
In this study, a group of 41 students took three types of photos every day: one of themselves smiling, a photo of something that made them happy that day, and a photo of something they believed could make someone else happy.
Each type of photo had positive effects on the participant's self-esteem levels, but the photo they took of themselves reported the highest levels of increasing self-confidence.
Talking to yourself in the second person will help improve your confidence.
While it's important to take note of how we think about ourselves (because this says a lot about our self-confidence), did you know that positive self-talk (actually talking out loud to yourself in a positive way) is scientifically proven to help with self-esteem?
If you have ever tried to psych yourself up for a job interview with the phrase "you've got this!", you're on the right track, according to science.
A 2014 European Journal of Social Psychology study had half of the participants in the study talking to themselves positively (in the first person), while the other half were told to talk to themselves positively in the second person (using "you" statements).
The people who spoke to themselves in the second person reported higher levels of motivation and confidence in themselves after these exercises. Researchers suggest the reason for this is because the use of "you" reminds us of receiving advice, praise, and encouragement from other people instead of just ourselves.
What matters most is how you expect other people to view you, not how they actually view you, according to UCL researchers.
"Low self-esteem is a vulnerability factor for numerous psychiatric problems including eating disorders and depression." says lead researcher Dr. Geert Jan Will. "In this study, we identified exactly what happens in the brain when self-esteem goes up and down."
By understanding what happens in the brain when self-esteem raises and lowers, we can better understand when this happens and pinpoint what caused the increases or decreases.
The results of this study proved that social prediction errors (when we expect to have positive interactions or approval with other people but don't) were the key to determining if self-esteem went up or down.
Self-awareness and positive affirmations help.
Confidence can come from being honest with yourself, but that is much harder to accomplish when your feelings of worthlessness are telling you there are no redeeming qualities about yourself.
According to new brain-imaging studies published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, when people practice self-affirmations (positive self-statements), the brain's self-processing (medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex) and valuation cortex (ventral striatum and ventral medial prefrontal cortex) are both activated.
The results of these scans highlight the positive neural processes that happen when we self-affirm, proving that self-affirmations work.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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