Root causes of anxiety and low self-esteem (1 of 2)

In my previous 2 blog posts, I’ve written about how anxiety manifests itself within me and how low self-esteem, self-doubt, and a real lack of confidence affects me. In this post, I’ll be considering the first of what I believe to be the two main root causes of these issues.

As in previous posts, one thing I must state before I continue is that I am in no way a medical expert. My views within this or any other blog posts are solely that – my views and in no way underpinned by any medical expertise or theory.

The first (and to my mind the primary) root cause is that I am ridiculously body conscious. I have always had a fairly large frame, though it was only when reaching my adult years that I began to put on excess weight (as mentioned in last week’s post, it is only during my adult years that low self-esteem really became an issue). I know I am carrying excess body fat and have done so for a number of years now. BMI indexes show that I am obese and whilst I have a major gripe with how those indexes work (more of that in a future post), I do acknowledge that I need to lose excess fat, and there lies the crux of the problem. I am constantly thinking of how other people view me and what they think of me as a result of my body. I assume people will be doing this all the time and, whilst I realise that is a quite ridiculous viewpoint when I actually try to step back and think pragmatically, I can’t change it. I try not to use the word ‘hate’ too often but I do hate how I look. For example, I cannot stand having my photo taken. I can use my fingers to count the number of times I’ve seen a photo of me which I find moderately acceptable. I should have hundreds of pictures with my family and friends which I’m happy to look at whereas, in reality, I only enjoy looking back at the ones which don’t include me. I should be comfortable and willing to produce promo shots for Lux Bay (the music duo I am part of) but I feel really uncomfortable doing so, no doubt much to the chagrin of Becci, the singer I am fortunate to work with who is ridiculously photogenic and a huge fan of sharing images on social media. All of this constantly preys on my mind and influences my thinking / anxiety / lack of self-esteem on a very regular basis. The media, particularly social media, has an awful lot to answer for in terms of presenting a façade of a perfect life when, in reality, situations are anything but. The same applies to presenting images of the perfect body we should all be craving and, whilst that is nonsense and we should all learn to love and embrace our imperfections, I find it hard to do so. Perhaps a happy medium is the answer; that difficult-to-find place where I’ll be happy with my appearance whilst appreciating that I’ll never quite nail the Hugh Jackman or Chris Hemsworth look. There’s still some way to go before I get to that position, though I’ll document the journey through this blog.

The ludicrous thing about all this is that I don’t view others in this way, which should influence my own thinking but never does. I judge people on how they are as people rather than how they look, a view which I hope many others adopt. However, I fail to see that others may do this with me. Body consciousness always influences my thoughts. Friends and colleagues have, on occasion, told me what they think of me (which I’ll address in an upcoming ‘coping mechanisms’ post), though I constantly fail to recall this when it really matters. I genuinely can’t offer an explanation why, other than to say that it seems to be a default mode of mine to hone in on what I think people will be genuinely thinking rather than how I know some people view me. I hope someday that will change, possibly by shedding some excess pounds, though I can’t say for certain. On that subject, I am well aware that some will be reading this and thinking ‘that’s easy to solve – just shed the excess weight’. However, that’s much easier said than done. Whether through force of habit, using food and alcohol as a comfort blanket, sheer laziness, or having an addictive personality which leads to a ‘why have 1 packet of crisps when 3 will do’ mentality, shedding excess weight is difficult to do. I am trying to resolve that right now, and there’s a train of thought which suggests that sharing goals with a wider audience makes them easier to achieve (fingers crossed…), though I’ll write about this in future posts.

Finally, in preparing for this post, I’ve done some background reading on body consciousness for the first time. I’ve found this really interesting, especially a page on the Mind website (www.mind.org.uk) which states that Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder related to body image. A diagnosis of BDD may be given if you experience obsessive worries about one or more perceived flaws in your physical appearance, and the flaw cannot be seen by others or appears very slight. I can fully relate to this and it’s an interesting read if any of this resonates with you – this link will take you to that webpage, whilst the rest of the Mind website is also very informative and well worth visiting.  

Next week I’ll describe what I believe to be the second of the two root causes of my own issues. The best way I can summarise this is to refer to it as an inferiority complex, underpinned by a natural tendency to be very self-critical. Hopefully the full post will make more sense if that sounds like gobbledygook to you! Following that, I will get around to posting some positive content. I promise – please trust me on this…

Until next time.

Best wishes,

Mick

10 Comments

  1. Well done again Mick , this blog is more helpful than most literature / books I have read because it is written from the heart and every aspect of the condition will be covered . I am sure it will help lots of people understand what they are experiencing because they will be able to relate to your own struggles and hopefully it will also help you make sense of everything too xx

  2. Well done son like Yvonne says it’s coming from your heart and I understand because I hate seeing some photos of myself too. I am sure that you will be helping other people who will be saying ‘That’s just how I feel’. Keep up your good work and again I say I am here for you and love you so much. Mum xxx 🎸 💕 🎸

  3. Well done again Mick. I hope you’re getting as much out of your blogs as undoubtedly your readers are.
    All I can say is that I’m 100% confident in my opinion that anyone who has met you and inevitably, subsequently liked you, will have done so as a result of the person you are, warm, endearing, funny (the list goes on), and without a thought to your size, physique or general appearance.
    Once again, thanks for a wonderful post, it’s really brave what you’re doing and please be satisfied that you are helping many others whilst doing so.
    Take care.

  4. Great, honest post again Mick. its funny how social media constantly provides us with “perfect ” bodies etc …in reality what most people want is someone who we can snuggle up to, makes us laugh and will demolish a HUGE bag of maltesers in one sitting !

  5. Hi Mick – as I’m not currently using Facebook I’d missed this blog but thanks to the blasted algorithm, that got it right for once, your post was in front of me when I checked my notifications this week. Just wanted to say good for you and ask if you’re finding it helpful to write about your feelings? It’s always been my advice, when someone is struggling with something, to write it down because it helps (I think)to stop things going round and round in your head and it helps you think things through.

    I’ve often thought about starting a blog myself but not done anything about it. I am suffering from anxiety at the moment which is new for me – I’ve had two periods of medicated depression, and some less long lasting periods in between, but I can’t remember feeling anxious ever in my life before. I feel like I don’t have the experience to draw on, to help me move on and up but I am on medication so hopefully I will get there. I’m also incredibly lucky in that the anxiety doesn’t impact on my work – work is the only place I feel like myself at the moment. But as you’ve discussed already in your blog, that makes it difficult to explain to people who see me being confident and in control.

    And I know it doesn’t help when people tell you that you’re wonderful but I’m afraid I have to join in with general thrust in the comments – you are a magnificent human being and it’s a privilege to call you a friend. And I can add brave now to all the other positive adjectives I could use to describe you. To put yourself out there on something so personal is such a good thing to do.

    I am proud of you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Sian – really appreciate that. I’m finding it really helpful writing about this. It isn’t easy, and I was particularly nervous just prior to sharing the first blog post, but the number of positive comments I’ve received since, both via public forums and private messages, prove it’s all worthwhile and many more people than we realise suffer from such issues.

      Sorry to hear you’re also suffering from anxiety, but if you’re thinking of starting a blog, my advice would be to throw caution to the wind and do it. I’m certain you would do a brilliant job. I started this primarily in the hope that it would help others, but I’m surprised at just how cathartic it’s been.

      We really do need that catch-up soon. Take care and speak soon. x

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