Working on Your Self-Esteem

What is Self-Esteem?

As human beings, we tend to place a value or a measure of worth to ourselves or aspects of ourselves. It usually refers to how we view and think about ourselves and the value we place on ourselves as a person. If the value we place on ourselves is often negative, this when we run into problems with self-esteem.

Low Self-Esteem:

Have you even been dissatisfied or unhappy with yourself on the whole? Do you ever think that you are weak, stupid, not good enough flawed in some way, inferior to other people, useless, worthless, unattractive, ugly, unlovable, a loser or a failure? Everyone uses these words on themselves at times, usually when they experience a challenging or stressful situation. However, if you often think about yourself in these terms, then you might have a problem with low self-esteem.

People with low self-esteem usually have deep-seated basic, negative beliefs about themselves and the kind of person they are. These beliefs are often taken as facts or truths about their identity, rather than being recognized as opinions they hold about themselves. The impact of low self-esteem can be frequent self-criticism, ignoring positive qualities, negative emotions, impact on work/study, relationship problems, lack of engagement in recreation and exercise and lack of personal self-care.

It is important to know that low self-esteem is a common problem for many people in our society - so you are not alone. Low self-esteem can occur as part of a current problem (such as depression), or a result of other problems (such as chronic illness, relationship problems) or it can be a problem in itself. Either way , the good news is tat you can steps towards developing more healthy self-esteems.

Negative beliefs start often early in life and that means our experiences in childhood. Can be due to abuse, punishment or neglect. Or difficulty in meeting our parents standards, not fitting in at school or home, being bullied, poverty, no positive reinforcements, etc. We maintain these negative beliefs by putting ourselves in at-risk situation, through unhelpful thinking about ourselves, and destructive behaviors such as self-criticism, and isolation from others.

The Good News:

While we cannot change the past, we can do something about the things we do on a day-to-day basis in the “here-and-now’ that maintain the negative core beliefs we have about ourselves. This means that things can be different and you can overcome low-self-esteem. What is important now is that you commit to making the effort to address your unhelpful thinking and unhelpful behaviors day to day.

Challenge your Negative Beliefs and Negative Self-Evaluations: Keep a journal and write down the positive things about yourself. When you hear yourself say something negative about yourself, stop that chatter right away. Re-frame it, challenge that belief!

Acknowledge Your Positives: Start with a positive qualities record. There is an endless list of possibilities when listing positive qualities - each of us is different. Some suggestions: considerate, resourceful, organized, strong, adventurous, appreciative, funny, loved, responsible, reliable, good listener, creative, good cook, active, determined, artistic, health-conscious, animal lover, enjoys nature, a good friend, empathetic funny, etc. Start a positive journal where you recall specific examples of how you have demonstrated each of the positive attributes you have listed in your positive qualities record. Doing this will take some time, but is well worth the effort. Noting down the specific incidents that illustrate your positive qualities will allow the list to have an impact on your view of yourself, making it real.

YOU CAN DO IT!! You are worth it.

Justine Divett