Each of us was born with an incredible power and drive, able to do great things, leave our mark and make a difference in this world. This difference all lies in whether or not you build upon this confidence and determination, empowering yourself with a strong sense of self-esteem, or whether we choose instead to allow ourselves fall victim to negativity and unrealistic expectations.

If you look in the mirror and find yourself feeling disappointed, upset or resentful, then it is time to make a fundamental shift in your life. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that our failures and setbacks are the fault of the cards we are dealt, the truth is that we are still the ones playing the game. Stand up tall, brush yourself off and pay attention and reflect upon your daily habits. Are you building yourself up, empowering yourself to rise above life’s challenges, or are you setting yourself up for failure? If it’s the latter, it’s time for a change!

12 Damaging Habits That Can Destroy Your Self Esteem and Lead to Depression:

#1 – Play it Safe to Avoid Failing

You may believe that you are trying to protect yourself, but no one can grow and evolve without first stepping outside of their comfort zone and taking chances. Rather than avoiding trying new things or sticking to the ‘easy way out,’ push yourself to really put yourself out there. Sure, you may experience some failures or setbacks along the way, but when you do succeed it will be completely worth it!

#2 – Waste Time on ‘Shoulds’

Focusing your attention on what you believe the world expects from you and how to keep others happy will never lead to your own happiness and success. This is your life, it doesn’t belong to anyone else. Rather than wasting your time on how you should feel, what you should say or how you should act in any given situation, focus your attention on what you want to get out of life. If you have your eye on where you want to go, then you can make decisions that will move you forward in life (so long as you aren’t abandoning your own personal morals in the process).

#3 – Perfectionism and Control

While it may be tempting to try your best to control everything that is happening in your world, it is also highly unrealistic. There are always going to be elements that are out of reach, occurrences in the world that we have no ability to influence or change. These influences impact every aspect of your life each and every day – which means that you are never going to be 100% in control of your life. So why set yourself up for failure, trying to hold so tightly to every detail to make it ‘perfect’ when you know that you it’s out of your hands? Instead, do your best and trust in the Universe – those things that don’t work out are simply opening doors to new experiences and life lessons.

#4 – Procrastinate

This is a bad habit that SO many of us share. The old saying goes ‘why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and there is some truth to it! If you want to reach your goals and dreams, don’t waste your time. Stop making excuses. Start today – find ways to take steps forward. Even the smallest of steps in the right direction will continue to propel you towards your ultimate goal.

#5 – Comparing Yourself to Others

Have you ever found yourself looking at someone else and noticing that they have nicer hair, a better car, that they are further along in their career at this stage of their life, or that they are in better shape? Comparing yourself to those around you is only going to end badly. You will always find someone who is further along in life or has something you don’t have. Don’t forget that you are seeing just a snapshot in their life, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. Focus, instead, on identifying the areas of your life that you are proud of and comparing yourself only to who you were yesterday.

#6 – Back Down When It Comes to Your Boundaries

When you set boundaries for others, there is a clear reason. You are protecting yourself, and that is completely your right. However, setting boundaries will do you no good if you don’t stand by them and enforce them moving forward. If, for example, you are limiting time with a family member because you believe they are a toxic influence in your life, don’t give in to pressure from other family. Your boundaries are in place for a reason, and should only be changed, altered or removed if you feel safe and comfortable doing so.

#7 – Imagine Others Are Always Judging You

There are going to be people in your life who make judgmental comments or waste your time with their opinions. However, 99% of the time if you feel as though you are being judged, scrutinized or made fun of, their attention isn’t actually on you at all. In fact, they likely aren’t think about you at all. This is a reflection of your own self-criticism that you are then projecting onto others. If this is something you experience regularly, you need to redirect your attention to your self-esteem and establishing positive self talk.

#8 – Hand Over Your Power to Someone Else

You, alone, have the power in your life to make the necessary decisions to either move yourself forward, change direction or stay where you are at today. You are also the only person with the ability to choose to be happy, even in the most upsetting times. This power that you have in your life may not be able to choose or change every detail, but it can have a significant impact. Why would you willingly place that in the hands of another? Hold tight to your power and wield it responsibly.

#9 – Find Fault with Yourself

Newsflash: There is no one walking this earth that can genuinely claim to be perfect unless they are lying straight to your face. We all have flaws and weaknesses, and we all make mistakes at one time or another in our lives. Don’t waste your time focusing negatively on yourself. Instead, take this as an opportunity to build yourself up. Sure, you may have made a mistake, but what strengths did you discover during your recovery from it?

#10 – Ignore Your Wants and Needs

Each of us has our own needs, wants and desires in life. Don’t ignore these, as they are as important as the needs that you try so hard to meet for everyone else. When our needs and wants aren’t met, we often found ourselves feeling as though there must be a reason – Are we less worthy of this? Did we sacrifice everything we wanted for the needs of someone else without any attempt at compromise? If so, that is only going to lead to disappointment, pain and resentment. While there are times in life you will have to find a compromise, never take your wants and needs completely off the table.

#11 – Doubt Your Instincts

Each of us has been gifted with a powerful intuition, an inner voice that provides us with warning and guidance as we move forward in life. If your instincts say, for example, that a situation is dangers, get out! On the other hand, if you are in a situation and your instincts tell you that you should stick with it, keep plugging forward. Your gut feeling is a powerful thing, but only if you give it the attention that it needs in order to communicate with you clearly.

#12 – Refuse to Forgive Yourself

As I said before, you aren’t perfect, and you are going to make mistakes. Sometimes, your mistakes may even cause pain for yourself or for others around you. If you have genuinely learned from your mistake, and are taking the steps to not repeat it, then forgive yourself. You are human. Consider, for a moment, if someone else came to you apologizing genuinely for the same situation. Would you offer them forgiveness?

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