How Being Homeless Can Hurt Your Self-Esteem
Homelessness affects everyone, and no one is above becoming homeless. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, roughly 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness at least once a year, with more than 600,000 being homeless on any given night. Often, homelessness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, when someone who becomes homeless loses the self-esteem to help them work towards pulling themselves out of their situation.
How Do People Become Homeless?
Military veterans find themselves homeless after returning from a tour of duty, unable to find a job to afford a place to live. Women with children who are fleeing an abusive situation and need to get out of their homes without time to plan may spend a limited time in a shelter before having to move on. And then there are those people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and spend all their money on their addiction, leaving nothing for the expenses of keeping a roof over their heads.
What is it Like to Be Homeless?
Socially, there is no benefit to being homeless. Anyone who finds themselves homeless struggles with the immediate insecurity of not knowing where they will spend the night. Their self-esteem begins to erode as more insecurities begin to build: poverty, hunger, shame at the situation they are in, poor health, the inability to continue education for children or becoming victims of street crime.
The homeless have trouble getting, or keeping jobs because they have no stability as to getting enough sleep, staying healthy, having proper clothing or just dealing with the everyday crises that arise, with no immediate help at hand. Often, the experience of being homeless is so demeaning, it can push someone beyond low self-esteem, sometimes causing mental health problems from which they cannot recover. Homelessness and self esteem problems can be difficult to endure, but both can be overcome.
Strengthening Coping Skills
Others get from day to day by strengthening their coping skills, hopefully helping them climb to a level where they are able to help themselves get a roof over their heads. This is an ideal situation for someone who is homeless to be able to get to, but the key coping skill that many who are homeless find it difficult to grasp is that of improving their self-esteem.
Taking Care of Yourself
Several coping skills can help contribute to improving your self-esteem. In no particular order, they are:
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like — simply taking care of yourself. In making an effort to look better, dressing as well as you can and taking care of personal hygiene, for example, you begin to can gain the confidence you need to keep going.
Self-love is also self-explanatory; you need to learn to love yourself for who you are, as you are, before you can expect others to do the same. Learning to accept yourself in a situation of homelessness can be difficult, but by valuing yourself you can gain the respect of others, who may be in a position to help you.
Self-worth is the result of practicing self-care and self-love. Feeling worthy of yourself improves your self-confidence and is often the result of an improved self-esteem.
Becoming homeless is rarely a choice. If it happens to you, it’s important to work quickly to help yourself emotionally so that you have the tools to get yourself — and those who rely on you — back into a stable living environment.