Self-esteem is based on how you evaluate your self worth. We’ve all heard that low self-esteem leads to stress and depression. That’s something most people with social anxiety have. But high self esteem leads to the same thing as well.

Kristin Neff writes  in Why Self Compassion Trumps Self Esteem, and in her website, that high self-esteem comes from feeling above average. But high self esteem comes at a price, from a tendency to put ourselves and others down. How can we all feel above average at the same time? This paradox leads us to always having to compete. So when we’re not successful, self-esteem ditches us and sends in the self critic.

In universities, colleges, schools, in everything, our culture puts an emphasis on success and competition. We’re always marked and compared with other people. And for social anxiety in college, we just have to compare our social lives with others:

Why is that they can make friends but I can’t?

I’m so awkward compared to that guy.

Why can’t I participate in my tutorial?

Everyone else gets noticed, except me.

Everyone else drinks. “

Enough with the self-esteem. We have to replace it with self compassion, the practice of being kind to yourself. Be supportive.  Rather than telling ourselves that we messed up, we need to treat ourselves like we would our friends. Say you mumbled all the way throughout a conversation. Instead of saying you “should have spoken louder, you idiot!”, you could say, “hey, you were really brave to step out of your comfort zone. I know it’s slow. But you’re already improving”.

A really cool blog that can help is The Self Compassion Project, if you want more information.

Until the next post,