Most of us have had the experience of alcohol increasing our confidence. Defined as “liquid courage,” a glass of wine can give us the confidence to take any Karaoke bar by storm. We can’t sing at all, but enough libations and – by gosh – we’re the next Adele! But what about cannabis? Does Mary Jane improve self-esteem the same way Captain Morgan does?

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The Perversity of Low Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence aren’t limited to characters in after-school specials; many, many people have a fear of not being good enough. Often times, these fears are formed early in life – we mold our self-worth through the interactions with our primary caretakers (typically our moms and dads). This is why many of us wish we had a time machine: we’d go back seventy years and tell Donald Trump’s parents to give him attention.

But, of course, attention doesn’t solve the problem each time: plenty of kids are showered with love and affection and they still grow up to doubt themselves. Why does this happen?

Sometimes, it’s the result of benign activities that children perceive as harmful. It can be the result of parents wanting the house kept tidy, a desire which goes against the nature of children who’d rather paint the walls with mud and leave Legos all over the living room.  It can be the result of a parent asking a child to be quiet at dinner when that child, deep down inside, would much rather belt out a show tune dedicated to their love of mashed potatoes.self-esteem and cannabisThen again, low self-esteem (and perhaps lower than what the above kids experience) can be the result of more serious things. Adults with low self-esteem may have been children with parents who were neglectful or uninvolved (or suffered from substance abuse issues or anything else that commandeered their attention). But it’s not all on the parents, either. Kids with negative peers, problems with body image, and unrealistic goals may grow up to have low confidence. Kids who experience trauma (any type of abuse or shame), see themselves as insignificant, or develop negative thought patterns may also show low confidence in adulthood. Bad decisions play a role too – an adult who continues to date the same kind of awful person or keeps ending up in the same dead-end job is more likely to have shaky confidence than someone who maintains healthy relationships and excels at their career. Anyone locked in an unproductive, dangerous pattern may experience problems with self-esteem. Yep, it’s not just for teenagers anymore (and, really, it never was).

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Cannabis and Self-Esteem

Cannabis, like alcohol, relaxes you and lowers your inhibitions. This helps self-esteem by minimizing your worries – it doesn’t make them go away entirely (or maybe it does), but it makes them appear less threatening. The boss you’re afraid of? The one who yells and spits and claims he was once a hitman for the mob? The one who tells you that he could do your job in his sleep? He doesn’t seem as scary when you’re high. Pot is also conducive to socialization, something that alcohol is known for too. The best-demonstrated example of this is a first date.

Go on one stone-cold sober, and then go on one with pot or port. Chances are, you’ll notice a difference. However, with cannabis, your choice of strain is important. Sativas are better for socialization than an indica. This isn’t to say that the latter will leave you wallowing in insecurity and unsure of what to say or do. It won’t, but it will relax you to the point where you may want to snooze rather than schmooze. A hybrid could bring you the best of both worlds. For example, some users report the hybrid strain Blue Dream as being great for socializing – bringing the relaxing elements of an indica with the cerebral energy of a sativa.

Cannabis and Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder (which comes with an appropriate acronym of SAD) affects millions. It’s usually marked by a fear of social interaction. The thought of being around others at a party or gathering causes people to get anxious, embarrassed, and unfairly self-conscious. People with SAD worry that they’ll be judged or humiliated. They also worry that they’ll unwittingly offend others. All of this works to make social situations unbearable. As a result, people often isolate themselves in avoidance.

The symptoms aren’t just mental, either. People with SAD may experience digestive issues, heart palpitations (or a racing heart rate), shakiness, and confusion

People with SAD are treated a variety of ways. Some engage in therapy and others take anti-depressants. Cannabis, natch, is also a new line of treatment. Because pot aids relaxation, it calms the nerves of anyone suffering from anxiety (and anyone conscious). This calming can help boost self-confidence, something we can all benefit from.

The Fine Line

Mary Jane can indeed by your wing-woman and aid in your swagger – whether you toke up before a party or take an edible before heading to a club, a little high can leave your confidence high too. But there is a line that cannabis can cross. If you already struggle with body image issues and imbibe in strains that leave you victim to the munchies, cannabis won’t do you any favors. Apple vs. DonutThere are ways around this – you can fill your kitchen with healthy foods and make it difficult to procure fattening and salty snacks. You can – somehow – get banned from the local Taco Bell for life. Or you can stick to strains that aren’t as high in THC. These ones won’t make you as hungry. If you’re struggling at your job, smoking strains conducive to laziness won’t help you either. Heavy indicas like Lavender Kush (and even heavy sativas) can leave your career compromised (especially if you consume prior to heading into the office). And unemployment has really never done anything to improve anyone’s self-esteem. But, again, you can manipulate this: stick to wake and bake strains rather than those that will leave you turning your cubicle into a day bed. Strains that leave you prone to paranoia should also be avoided. If you don’t think you’re good enough when sober, throwing paranoia into the mix probably isn’t a good idea. When it all comes down to it, self-esteem is something most people struggle with at some point in their lives. Those who pretend they never do might even struggle with it the most. Marijuana alone probably won’t change your self-worth, but it can certainly be an ally. And it can remind you that, if you want to meet someone awesome, you just need to look in the mirror.