Your self-esteem is really your opinion of the kind of person that you think you are. Self-esteem is not inherited. Your self-esteem has nothing to do with someone’s feelings or opinions of you. It has to do with your core belief about who you think you are. Low self-esteem and high self-esteem are both in response to an evaluation a person has about himself or herself. Most people have mixed opinions of themselves from time to time, but, if you have low self-esteem, you will generally feel inadequate or inferior most of the time.
You are likely to be self-critical, self-blaming, and self-doubting. You may avoid challenging situations because you fear that you will fail or you may feel the need to take on more than you can handle in the hope that others will appreciate you.
You may feel that you are not entitled to happiness and put others’ needs ahead of your own needs. You may accept behavior that shows a disregard for your feelings or you may inconvenience yourself to try to get others’ acceptance or love.
Your negative beliefs about you cause you to lack confidence in yourself and you may experience difficulty expressing yourself. You may frequently apologize even when you are not wrong and you respond to others in a non assertive manner; feeling easily shamed.
In relationships, you may be super-sensitive to criticism or disapproval and you show excessive eagerness to please. In addition, you tend to ignore your positive qualities and you magnify your weaknesses. Depression, eating disorders and social anxiety are common among individuals who have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem makes one vulnerable to other emotional problems.
Low self-esteem mainly develops during childhood but can result, in adult years from abusive relationships and other stressful relationships. As a child you heard the criticisms and evaluations of significant adults who were responsible for your welfare. Their voices, tone and comparisons were frequent and prominent. These included, labels, judgments and comparisons such as, “I’m stupid.” “No one will ever love me.” “I can never do things right.” “I am ugly.” “I am selfish.” “I should do better.” “Wish I were as smart.”
“Low self-esteem mainly develops during childhood but can result, in adult years from abusive relationships and other stressful relationships.”
Their admonitions have become so familiar that they play in your mind today and help to make up your core belief. The judgments and comparisons that you make, the conclusions drawn, and resultant labels that you attach to yourself, reflect your self-image.
Negative labels and comparisons determined your feelings and behavior when you were a child, and naturally so, because you did not have the cognitive ability to analyze and dispute your negative thoughts and behaviors. As an adult, you are able to analyze dispute and change faulty ways of thinking and negative behaviors that prevent you from achieving your goals. Also, now that you are an adult, there is no longer a fear of being punished. To recognize that you have choices and you can choose to change is empowering.
In order to improve your self-esteem, it is important that you break the cycle that perpetuates it. To do so, you will need to identify and change your negative ways of thinking and your core beliefs to more rational and positive beliefs. Self acceptance is important for significant change to take place.
In my practice, I find Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to be an ideal approach for improving self-esteem. Cognitive Behavior Therapy provides a clear framework for understanding how the problem developed is maintained. I help my clients to identify thoughts and behaviors that work for them and those that they need to change. I encourage my clients try out new and positive ways to behave and to observe the effect that the change has on their sense of self.
Thérèse Gray Counseling
2186 Halsey Street, Suite 1A
Union, NJ 07083
Ph: (973) 953-5771; Fax: (908) 686-3859