I started seeing a new therapist a few months ago. When she asked me what I wanted to work on I said I wanted to work on my self-esteem and building self-confidence. This conversation has had me thinking about self-esteem. What is it? What can I do to improve mine? I wanted to share what I have been learning. It is my goal for next week to blog about this topic.
Today, I will introduce you to the concept of self-esteem and what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I had an idea of what it is BUT sometimes, in reading, things jump out at us that did not before. For example….self-esteem is subjective…it is our opinion of who we are. This means it is based upon our opinion of ourselves…not fact, or reality. It evolves throughout our lives by the experiences we have. It doesn’t stay the same all the time. Even for those who have, what is considered “normal,” self-esteem, it fluctuates depending on current circumstances but they are temporary.
For some of us, our self-esteem has been tainted and made negative by certain life experiences. For example, negative childhood experiences such as abuse, experiencing harsh criticism, “being ignored, ridiculed or teased,” or having parents who expected perfection from their children (anything below perfection was considered failure) can have an impact on our self-esteem. Other life experiences that can impact our self-esteem negatively include prolonged financial problems, persistent illness, or an accident that has caused some impairment of abilities.
For me, I grew up with a lot of emotional abuse. I was wished dead, told I should have never been born, called names and often criticized as a child. On top of this, I grew up in a minority religion that was different from my friends and classmates and I changed schools a lot. This caused me to feel different from others in an inferior way. I was self-conscious and often apologetic of myself. I dreaded criticism and often fell apart on the inside, if not outwardly, when criticized. Eventually, I learned to internalize the negative thoughts and such thoughts led to my developing depression.
My mental illness has also caused me some self-doubt. I have avoided taking a licensure exam because I am afraid of failing it. I have avoided applying for various social work jobs because I have feared that I wasn’t capable of doing the work or that I would fail myself and the employer. I have realized that my low self-esteem has been a road-block for me throughout my life. I want to put a stop to this and live my life in reality…having faith in my abilities and who I am. I no longer want to be held back by my inward mental demons.
I hope you will join me next week, on my journey to explore what is positive and negative self-esteem. How do you build positive self-esteem?
Do you feel comfortable sharing about your self-esteem? What has helped or hindered your self-esteem? How have you developed a more positive evaluation of yourself? Do you have any thoughts or questions? Feel free to share them here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will gladly answer your questions or research them.
Have a wonderful and safe weekend! Susan
Improving Self-Esteem: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=47