Improving Low Self Esteem
Improving Low Self Esteem
Low Self Esteem
Understanding ourselves is the means to improving low self esteem.
Having awareness about why we feel the way we do and where our negative feelings originate can give us tremendous power to change our lives. The journey towards authenticity involves self acceptance and for us to really accept ourselves, we need to understand our feelings of low self esteem.
The great novelist, John Steinbeck, wrote about it like this:
The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
The Early Years
We develop our sense of self in our very early years.
We need to know that we are loved and wanted, that we are special and important to the people who are the most important to us. living a healthy life
However, the early years are filled with knocks and blows to our innocent self to many and varying degrees. It is all the more difficult if we know we are loved by the very people who are delivering these knocks. We develop a sense that we are not quite right - a sense of worthlessness forms deep within.
If we are continually pushed away and rejected, or crushed and ridiculed, we naturally develop the notion that there is something very wrong with us rather than with the people delivering this message to us. We feel that we must be less than adequate, that we don?t measure up, and in some way we know this is hugely shameful, so we hide this knowledge deep inside.
Our Sense of Self
This unacknowledged, hidden, secret pool of feelings constitutes our sense of self worth. improving low self esteem Into this pool is also added the good things that we feel about ourselves - any praise, affection, security, and value - these positive attributes temper the negative attributes and together make up our sense of self. This is the basis of our self esteem
For some, the mixture includes more positive than negative, and when mixed with an optimistic nature, the outcome is usually an affirmative sense of wellbeing. However, there are some who grow up in particular family circumstances where the pool of worthlessness is continually fed.
In our adult life, the habit of self criticism, which comes from a wounded sense of self, has its beginnings in our very early childhood as a survival mechanism. Proven studies indicate that the parenting style during the first formative years determines the amount of self esteem that children start out with.
The Pain of Low Self Esteem
Low self esteem causes huge amounts of misery through the volume of self doubt, judgment and criticism we heap on ourselves. improving low self esteem We deny ourselves, reject ourselves and blame ourselves. Our self limiting outlook means that we devalue our goodness, our possibilities and our abilities. We see ourselves as less than others socially, emotionally, spiritually and physically, often compensating through harsh defense or inflated boasting.
We hide our low sense of self behind a social facade or mask, so that our "real?" self cannot be seen - hidden from both ourselves and from others.
We fear that others may see us as we "really are" - as worthless and inadequate - and so if someone criticizes, ridicules or rejects us, we feel they have seen through us. This hurt only intensifies the childhood trauma we have buried ? often so deeply that we have no name for it.
When others make us feel bad, we see that as their fault, and blame them for creating uncomfortable feelings within us. When we feel hurt we either lash out by attacking others, or by attacking ourselves, or by avoiding confrontation and running away from the feelings.
However, we don?t usually have much awareness that this is how we are thinking. We're not inclined to have either an internal or external conversation where we express our sense of self in this way. Mostly, we are in a state of denial about these awful feelings hidden deep within.
Our Hidden Sense of Self
Because of the hidden nature of our sense of self, as our personality and characteristics grow and develop, we are inclined to believe that our external circumstances are responsible for our self esteem.
We believe that if we had more qualifications, a better job, higher income, a loving partner, or a better lifestyle we would have higher self esteem. We believe that if we were taller, thinner, with longer legs, had a nose job or straightened our hair, we would have higher self esteem.
We think that if we could change any of these variables we would have better self esteem. However, these circumstances are only indirectly related to our sense of self
Stepping Towards Authenticity
What really determines how we see ourselves is our thoughts - what we think about ourselves, what our self perceptions are and our self beliefs. Our thoughts are the greatest determining factor in improving low self esteem.
Because we have spent a lifetime in defense by attacking ourselves, believing that there is something wrong with us, we become addicted to this patterned response in our thinking. Imagine if someone suggested to you that you can change your life just by changing your thoughts? Do you know that this is true?
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said,
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
How can we change?
Helen Williams - LifeWorks
Ph 04 3942464
996 Al Wasl Road,
Umm Sequeim 1
PO Box 74678