Too Hard on Yourself? 10 Ways to Overcome Low Self-Worth

Studies find that self-esteem typically starts out low among young adults. From there, however, it increases throughout adulthood. Unfortunately, it peaks around age 60.

This means feelings of low self-worth are more common among older adults and retirees than we might expect.

What causes low self-esteem in older adults?

Your body and your perspective change as the years pass. But it’s much more than that. Here are just a few of the possible reasons behind low self-worth in older adults:

  • Many adults develop a sense of worth through their careers
  • Empty nest syndrome occurs
  • Loss of intimacy with a spouse or partner
  • Health issues are more common
  • Lack of structure and routine
  • Friends and family members pass away

Obviously, a common thread on this list involves social interaction. We are often unprepared for the sheer volume of changes in our adult years. The good news is that we’re resilient and resourceful!

10 Ways to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself and Overcome Your Low Self-Worth

1. Self-care

The basics: Exercise and activity. Regular sleep patterns. Healthy eating habits. Stress management. Commit to your mental and physical health. Show yourself that you’re worth it!

2. Tell your story

Sure, things seem to be moving faster than ever. That does not make older adults obsolete. Talk to young family members. Keep a journal. Take advantage of technological changes to self-publish a memoir. Embrace and share your legacy. You have plenty to share.

3. Embrace technology

Don’t be that person who jokes about not knowing how to send an e-mail. Computers and phones are made to be user-friendly. Take a class. Ask for help. Take pride in mastering new and important skills.

4. Re-imagine intimacy

This is often a taboo topic. Popular opinion tells us less intimacy is inevitable. Sometimes, popular opinion is wrong. Over time, connections shift. Sex is important, of course, but how else do you define intimacy? Gentle touches, cuddling, hand holding, sustained eye contact—what does intimacy mean to you?

5. Volunteer

When we give, we live. If you seem to have more time on your hands, find ways to give back. Volunteer opportunities raise the self-esteem of everyone involved.

6. Learn something new

It’s never too late to live out a dream. Ignore the naysayers. Silence your inner critic. Step out of your comfort zone and learn something new! What’s on your bucket list?

7. Share what you learn

Let’s say you’ve taken some classes about film and cinema. Why not share your excitement? Starting a movie club in your area is a great way to have fun, make new connections, and share something in the process!

8. Stay social

This is non-negotiable. We are social animals. Age does not change that. You might even argue that age strengthens such bonds. Stay connected with old friends, if possible. But even more so, make new friends!

9. Remain independent

The stereotype tells us that we’ll lose independence as we age. In terms of health, this is sometimes a factor. However, by taking the steps outlined here, we can challenge the stereotype and enjoy independence longer.

10. Create a support system

Be unafraid to talk with others your age about emergency situations. Create a team to support you and challenge yourself to become a vital part of reciprocating that support where you can.

I’ve seen so many adults re-invent their self-worth. However, you may find you need a little help. Some folks require guidance and support. That’s perfectly fine, I’m happy to help. Meeting one-on-one with a therapist can be a valuable step. Asking for help is a form of self-care and therefore, a step towards higher self-worth and a more satisfying life.