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The word esteem comes from the latin word which means estimate, therefore, self-esteem is how you estimate yourself.
People with poor self esteem often rely on how they are doing in the present to determine how they feel about themselves,they need positive external experiences to counteract the negative feelings and thoughts that constantly plague them,but even the good thoughts can ony be temporary.
Where does it come from?
Our self esteem developes and evolves throughout our lives, as we build images of ourselves with different people and activities.Experiences throughout our childhood plays a particulary large role in the shaping of our self esteem.
Causes of low self esteem
Below are some examples of what can cause our low self esteem :
- A perceived lack of self worth
- Uncontrollable jealousy
- Relationship break ups
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- The inability to think positively
- Mild depression
Consequences of low self esteem
Low self esteem can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression, it can also cause problems with friendships and relationships. Worst of all these negative consequences themselves re-inforce the negative self image and can take a person onto a downward spiral of lower self esteem.
Below are some examples of the way people with low self esteem can perceive things:
- If I were rejected then that would prove that I was unlovable and a loser
- If I were disapproved of then that would prove that I was inferior and inadequate
- If I were to fail then that would prove that I was a failure and useless
- If I make a mistake then that would prove that I was bad or not good enough
- If I were to reveal a flaw then that would prove that I was weak and pathetic
Self esteem and anxiety
Putting yourself down about being anxious can often lead to feelings of guilt, shame and low moods. This often reduces motivation, increases hopelessness, and can make it harder to assume personal responsibility for change. Therefore accepting ones self for having anxiety problems can often be the first steps in over coming low self esteem.
Ways to help overcome low self esteem
- Accepting yourself – If you stop estimating yourself then you cannot arrive at low self esteem. In reality we are very complex with many traits and experiences, therefore too complex to measure or rate. We are now and always will be fallible and ever changing, therefore we have to accept ourselves as complex, ever changing fallible human beings
- Building self acceptance – This can take a lot of work and acceptance, and sometimes we can only get better at it not perfect. It helps to be flexible and have a non-extreme attitude towards ourselves. We need to try to stop over generalising and put things into perspective. We have to learn to accept ourselves for who we are and to challenge our self downing
- Behaviour changes – Begin to place your wishes and wants as high priority, focus on your own strengths and assets and what is important to you, start to try to become more flexible and spontaneous. Learn to start to face your fears and feared situations.
- The word 'no' – People with low self esteem often find them selves getting talked into things they would rather not do because we find it hard to use the word no. Learn to begin to say no, it will help you to value yourself more. You don't have to be aggressive when you say no to people and you do not have to apologise or make excuses for saying it
- Pen and Paper Exercise – Spend a few minutes thinking and writing down all the ways you would behave differently if you were to accept yourself, and then use this as a guide to practise with