I wonder if low self-esteem is driving you to drink? Low self-esteem is the bane of mankind these days. Just the other day I turned on a local radio station and heard the DJ admit that she was really worried about what others thought of her.
I was shocked but then I began to think about it. I do too. I am getting better now that I am over the 50-year old mark. But most of the voices in my head ensure me I am not as good as everyone else. And all that social media where everyone looks perfect, acts perfect, and constantly tells everyone else what to do – that takes the cake.
Links Between Low Self-Esteem and Drinking
So, are you allowing your low self-esteem to fuel your drinking habit? Let’s take a closer look at what low self-esteem really means: according to WebMD.com, low self-esteem is when “ someone lacks confidence about who they are and what they can do. They often feel incompetent, unloved, or inadequate. People who struggle with low self-esteem are consistently afraid about making mistakes or letting other people down.”
In a nutshell, self-esteem is about having self-respect, admiring oneself, and can go so far as being self-conceit. I am not sure I know many people exhibiting this quality. Our leaders, yes! Now, let’s look at the links between low self-esteem and alcoholism.
Addiction Helper states that “there seems to be a definite link between low self-esteem and addiction, with those who deem themselves to be unworthy of love and happiness often turning to substance abuse as a way to forget about their problems. People with little self-worth may struggle to enjoy life and develop relationships with other people, and because they are so unhappy with their life, they will seek anything to help them to escape how they are feeling. That will often lead to alcohol or drug abuse, which only provides temporary relief. In the long-term, low self-esteem will be accompanied by depression and misery.”
How interesting! I must admit that I have (for most of my life) suffered from low self-esteem. Having a drink in hand around people really seemed to help. I do remember feeling removed from situations, thanks to the alcohol, and then not remembering much about the conversation anyway. But often when alcohol is involved, the conversation becomes pointless and emotional, does it not?
Low Self-Esteem Traits
Have you ever felt very sensitive to criticism? Do you take everything personally? If any comment is made against your work or your love or your actions, do you immediately bristle and believe that you are useless?
Are you the type of person who turns down social invitations because you fear going out into the crowds? Do you cancel socials at the last minute and avoid making plans? Do you avoid crowded rooms and events where people will be bubbly and outgoing, like restaurants and pubs, shows and concerts?
Do you get angry if people ask you why you did not arrive or why you keep saying no? Are you aggressive in defence mode if people try to help you or draw you out?
All these character traits are caused by low self-esteem. I am all these things! Writing this blog has opened my eyes and made me see myself all over again! The wine helped a lot! I would hold my glass and move from person to person, or simply sit still and just sip away. Soon we would all be laughing about something and getting louder and louder about something else. But what were we on about?
I acknowledge all these issues. But still, I can safely live in my low self-esteem now. And I do not feel guilty. Sure, I do avoid going out, I do lash out when people try to drag me out and I do escape invitations at the last minute. Does that make me a weirdo? Well, the articles are telling me that I best be careful because I am at risk of addiction – again.
Causes of Low Self-Esteem
It seems that people with low self-esteem, who turn to drink, tend to compare themselves way too critically against their peers. These peers could be friends, work colleagues or family members. They feel very shy and not good enough. They pick up a drink to feel better and to fit in. The alcohol gives them courage. Then the alcohol gives them weaknesses – hostility, fear, sadness. And it will never go away. Until the core of the issue is resolved – the self-esteem causes and effects.
So, let’s take a look at what causes low self-esteem. The first place I go to is childhood. My sister was “abandoned as a baby thanks to our parents’ preferences for alcohol. That lack of ‘needs being met’ as a baby or a child is a huge reason why so many people turn to alcohol and are susceptible to the powers of alcohol abuse. I was the second and middle child and yes, I too have ‘mother wound’ issues. I too suffer immensely from low self-esteem and have done so since I was in bibs. But this blog is not about me, ahem.
It is about why low self-esteem drives so many people to drink. As mentioned above, childhood wounds play a major role in the low self-esteem factor. One comment by a parent could drive a child to think very poorly of themselves. Some children will blame themselves for poor behaviour or poor achievements in their lives, thanks to comments by adults or friends.
There could well be verbal and physical abuse in a home which wounds the child’s self-belief irreparably. Some children really believe that they are a failure if they are told this just once. Many children are worried about their physical appearance in this day and age of narcissism and selfies and social media posing and comparing. Even suicide is caused by social media critiques of what people look like physically. It is appalling but very real.
Addiction Recreates Low Self-Esteem
It just so happens that many people with addictive personalities do have low self-esteem. They try a drink, they try a pill and wham bam, they are addicted. To this feeling of escape and this fake feeling of being able to cope. The worst part about this is that the addiction enhances the low self-esteem! Depression can result and suicidal thoughts are at the bottom rung of this ladder.
People with low self-esteem tend to want to hide behind the alcohol. They mask their feelings of inadequacy behind the glass of alcohol and their outgoing drunk persona. Addictive personalities turn to various ways of feigning their confidence: alcohol, drugs, sex, money, food, shopping, travel and status symbols. But these things are superficial and temporary plasters on the wounds.
If it is alcohol that is your crutch, is that because you like to hide behind the drunk you? Do you get used to that drunk feeling and the new drunken you? Do you make people laugh at you? But little do you know that they are pitying you, talking behind your back, and reinforcing your low self-esteem without you even noticing it. The problem is that this feeling is temporary every day and the next day you seek it again, and again, and you become dependent on that drink. Sigh, is it worth it?
No. There are ways to cure low self-esteem. First prize is to stop drinking. It is very important, if you are a drinker who is now sober, to deal with feelings of inadequacy. Old habits die hard and hard work is necessary to prevent relapse.
Let’s look at these tips for building self-esteem and ditching the drink:
- Self-care and self-love: deepen this emotion and create new habits through simple steps like daily affirmations, daily gratitude journaling, recognising your small wins every day, and treating yourself to pampering hot baths, chocolates, a milkshake out with friends, and a new dress or shoes.
- Never stop learning: read quit lit, listen to podcasts and try daily meditation videos. Find out what books move you and buy more. Read about addiction and how the brain is wired for pleasure. Feed your brain with knowledge and your heart will follow.
- Take care of your needs: avoid social events if you have to and grab a novel in front of the fire if that is what you need. Take up a new hobby like knitting or sewing, art or pottery. Get fit and healthy and change the way you approach food and drink.
- Applaud your very achievement: pat yourself on the back for your progress. Remember that you do count and you are a vital part of the community. Look inward to find beauty and look outward to marvel at the world around you.
- Find your tribe: find friends who support you and believe in you. The friends who leave are not friends and the new friends you make are the real friends. Sober friends are vital when you get sober and you can all find common ground. Just seeing these friends builds self-esteem.
- Get fit and healthy: this is a huge self-esteem booster if you can find something that makes your heart rate soar in a positive way. Get that dopamine rush with hikes, walks, yoga, deep-sea diving, swimming, art, or karate.
Find your nice and you will be great.
If you’d like a bit of support to take a break from drinking the annual Sober Spring Challenge from Tribe Sober.