One of the subjects that frequently gets brought up in therapy is self-esteem. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do some people have oodles of it while others can’t seem to find it at all?
The truth is, we’re all a product of our own circumstance. We come into this world the centre of the universe. We’re not born with self-esteem, our lives and the people who are in it help us to form that self-esteem, or keep us from forming our self-esteem over the span of our lives.
It’s important to note that self-esteem doesn’t look the same for everyone. There’s a preconceived notion that if you have something sought-after, or are someone of importance, you ultimately have high self-esteem because, how else would you have gotten to that place? This is simply not the case. You can be the Star Quarterback of the Chicago Bears and still feel insecure each time you step off that field and take off that gear. You can be the most successful Doctor in your industry, saving lives each and every day whilst feeling as though you cannot save your own from your insecurities. There is a lot of grey area when it comes to self-esteem. The world is not so black and white.
The following was not written by me. It was provided to me as homework to complete by my Therapist, who has given me permission to share.
The ESSENTIALS OF SELF-ESTEEM
Significance: We need to feel we matter and that we are important. We need to feel that we are making a significant contribution to whatever sphere we find ourselves in, be it family, our job, our friends or our recreational pursuits.
Competence: Competence means believing we can make things happen and can master our environment. Remember – if you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.
Connectedness balanced by separation: We need to maintain balance in our lives whereby we keep our individuality and at the same time we have feelings of belonging. We can’t feel good about ourselves if we are cut off and alienated from everything. On the other hand, we can’t feel good if we’re absorbed into another’s identity.
Realism: We must be realistic – no one is perfect. We all have flaws. Self-esteem is focusing on the positives while recognizing that we do still have problems. Remember to set realistic goals and believe in your ability to handle whatever difficulties you may cross.
Ethics and values: We need to develop a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong. As we are all individuals, this will vary. The important thing is that we are comfortable with the understanding that everyone is entitled to their own core set of ethics and values.
Lifetime Process: Virtually all of us, to some degree, have problems with our self-esteem. As adults it is possible to overcome these problems but we need to have a belief that we can do so.
In summation: if we lack significance, we can seek affection. If we lack competence, we can increase our skills and take pride in our efforts. If we lack a sense of connectedness we can reach out to others. If we lack a sense of individuality, we can discover more about ourselves. If we lack values we can see what is important to ourselves.
It’s important to note that if we lack self-esteem, that can always be fixed. As humans we’re constantly changing and evolving, and if we make a conscious effort to improve our self-esteem, things can and will get better. Things won’t just magically happen, though. The work needs to be put forth for anything to change.
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Lately I’ve been feeling as though my anxiety is a lot like an injury that tends to flare up when I don’t take care of myself. It’s a reminder to take consistent care of myself and to get the right kind of rest. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to put my metaphorical feet on the metaphorical couch.
Something that I struggle immensely with is low self-esteem. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with. For a lot of my life, I’ve put blame for that on other’s, but I’m learning through working with a therapist that I should be doing the work inside of myself to make myself feel better. It’s easy to feel anxious when you do not believe your worth is much.
Characteristics of low self-esteem:
- Neglect to personal appearance
- Poor eye contact
- Dull eyes
- Flat facial expressions
- Drooped shoulders
- Rare laughter or smiles
- Neglect to personal health
- Increased illness
- Increased fatigue
- Tendency to focus on others and wanting to fix them rather than their own self
- Decreased energy
- Decreased ambition
- Decreased happiness
- Decreased ability to cop with problems
- Increased chance of addictive behaviours
- Tendency to become involved in destructive relationships
- Decreased ability to make and achieve goals
- Decreased ability to stand up for yourself
- Allows others to choose for you
- Blaming others for problems
I don’t know about you, but I read and resonated with many of the things listed above.
The following questions are a part of the ‘Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale’. After reading the above characteristics, answer the following statements (strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree) with respect to yourself in relation to self-esteem:
- On a whole, I am satisfied with myself.
- At times, I think I am no good at all.
- I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
- I am able to do things as well as most other people.
- I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
- I certainly feel useless at times.
- I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
- I wish I could have more respect for myself.
- All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
- I take a positive attitude towards myself.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice that you can answer some of these in a positive light to your character whilst still believing very negatively of yourself.
Take one question from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and answer the following questions with respect to that one response:
Where did you form this belief of yourself?
How long has this belief been with you?
When do you notice this belief affects you most?
Have you had experiences that challenge this belief?
What is one thing you could do (one small step that you could take) towards changing this belief?
Like all things in life, there is no quick fix. As much as I would like to snap my fingers and believe in myself wholeheartedly and fully, it’s going to take time. I know where my flaws lie, and I know that I need to value myself for. I don’t think I’m alone in that though. I think we could all value ourselves a little more.
I’ve been seeing a Psychiatrist in an effort to help control the massive amounts of anxiety I’ve been suffering from in 2019. My Psychiatrist provides a lot of homework for me to use as tools for self improvement. As I work on myself, I’m sharing the resources provided to me. Why? Spread the wealth, spread the health.
Your mental health and well being are the most important gifts that you can give to yourself. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to please look after yourself. Take from this post what you like and leave what you don’t.
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One of the things that I’ve learned working with a Psychiatrist over the past two months is that if something is wrong, I am in charge of fixing it. I don’t just get to go into her office and say ‘fix me!’ I am responsible for fixing myself. If there were only one thing she couldn’t stress to me more during our sessions it’s that ‘You get out of therapy what you put into therapy. It’s called self-healing for a reason’.
My Psychiatrist provides a lot of ‘homework’. I get a lot of handouts to take home – paperwork to fill out, not for the purpose of being graded, but more for the purpose of self-reflection. What I’ve been thinking lately is that I should share these handouts and booklets provided to me. So, that’s what I’m going to start doing. I’m making an official ‘page’ for this on my blog, and I’ll be sharing the handouts that I get from my Psychiatrist.
FYI – I’ve told her about my blog and she’s all for me sharing these resources. Her response was ‘Hey, if it can help, spread the wealth for better health’.
In the first installment of this series, I am including a list of definitions. Definitions, while they may seem like a straightforward subject, are important to read and differentiate. Often times when we think of our mental health, each of these different definitions can mesh together into one big jumbled mess. This, in a sense, can contribute to confusion and panic within our minds. So, clear definitions are integral to understanding one’s self and mental health.
Self – A person’s self is the sum of all he/she can call their own. The self includes, among other things, a system of ideas, attitudes, values and commitments. The self is a person’s total subjective environment. It is the distinctive centre of experience and significance. The self constitutes a person’s inner world as distinguished from the outer world consisting of all other people and things.
Self Concept – The mental imagine one has of oneself. A person’s opinion of himself/herself. Self concept is a mental picture that represents a person’s opinion of himself/herself. That mental picture has three aspects to it: appearance, performance and status.
Appearance: How do I look? It’s important because it is something we consider every day. Compliments or criticism affects this part of our self concept and relates to how we view our bodies, dress and personal grooming.
Performance: How am I doing? It relates to how we view our abilities, our skills, our knowledge and our sense of responsibility.
Status: How important am I? We all desire to feel respected and admired by others. It relates to how we view our importance among people (family name, wealth, education, position or social rating)
These three aspects came from how we feel rated by others. We develop our self concept by stepping back and looking at the picture of ourselves. Our memories that have accumulated mostly in childhood when we are impressionable, form the network for the tapestry of our self concept.
Self Respect – Regard for one’s own standing or position. The degree of honour one shows oneself. Values that you judge yourself by. The degree to which you meet the standards you have for yourself, give you your sense of self respect.
Self Confidence – Belief in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities. That which allows us to make choices, to think, to judge, to know and come to decisions. Confidence is built by the successes we experience in life. Small successes built upon smaller successes, lead to a graduated building of confidence. It is important to remember these small successes and forget the failures. We tend to remember the failures and destroy our self confidence by putting ourselves down with them.
Self Acceptance – Being satisfied with one’s attitude and qualities while being aware of one’s limitations and potentials.
Acknowledgement that this is who I am, what I was born with and what I look like. Accepting what I can’t change, change what I can and do what I have to do to be the best that is within me.
Self Esteem – A confidence and satisfaction in oneself. Personal comepetence and personal worth. Self esteem = Self confidence + Self respect. A person with high self esteem is fundamentally satisfied with the type of person they are yet they may acknowledge their faults while hoping to overcome them.
Self Efficacy – People’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives.
Do your definitions match, or differ from what’s listed? Are you surprised at any of these definitions? Also, what aspects of yourself fit into each of these definitions? Reflection as to how these definitions are represented within you can help to clarifying where your issues lie and where your growth is needed.
In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.
Today I have promised myself that I am going to talk myself up. I have promised myself that I am not going to allow my brain to think any negative thoughts about who I am or what I am capable of. Today I have promised myself that my insecurities are not going to win, nor going to have any place in my head.
One day at a time.
I am fucking amazing. I am. I don’t say that in a cocky way, I say that in a self-awareness way. I’m intelligent, I’m kind-hearted, I’m overly sentimental and I try my best to understand everyone that I meet. I work hard. I have a phenomenal memory, one that helps me and drives people crazy with the amount of things I can remember.
I look after people. I give with grace. I volunteer my time to help those in need and I do my very best to put a smile on the face of those that I love. I try to be good. I really do. And I try to improve with each day. Self-improvement is my ultimate goal.
I’m self taught in graphic design, self taught in HTML coding, self taught in analytics tracking. I work well as part of a team and on my own and I work hard. I work so fucking hard, all the time. I’m a leader by design, but am also aware enough to realize when I need to let someone else take the wheel. It’s all about timing!
I’m stubborn as all hell and will stop at nothing to get my way. Some might see that as a negative, but I choose to see that as a positive. Why? Because it means that I don’t quit. And I don’t quit. Ever.
I’ve accomplished great feats, bowed at the foot of greatness and will continue to strive for greatness within myself. I believe knowledge is power and that I want to always be learning. I’m creative, insightful and can carry an intelligible conversation with anyone that I meet.
I set high standards both for myself and for the people I love. Why? Because I believe that we can always be better and that we owe it to ourselves to be better.
I’m a constantly evolving working in progress who’s trying to be nicer to herself. I’m only human and I’m far from perfect, but I like who I am. And that, I think that’s what’s most important.
I want to talk about a sticky subject for a moment, so I’ll try to keep it brief.
Body positivity is about respect. It’s not about what you believe is attractive or what you view as healthy. Body positivity is about respecting that beneath that outer layer we all show to the world, we’re all human. There are no exceptions.
Body positivity is about the belief that all bodies are a work of art. Why? Because our bodies protect us, help us and are the reason we’re all able to get around and do ANYTHING at all. Whether you’re skinny or not, tall or short, have knobby knees or dangly arms (or no arms), scars are scrapes, or any of the mecca of things that pepole can be/are insecure about, body positivity is a respect for yourself and for all humans.
It has NOTHING to do with what you view as attractive.
Body positivity is integral to happiness, both your own and others. Respecting yourself for you who are will help you to love yourself for exactly who you are. And let me tell you, you are fucking amazing. See it, believe it and know it. And pass that respect on to other’s as well. Because as much as we like to tell ourselves the opinions of other’s don’t matter, they do. So let them know they’re fucking amazing. Because body positivity can make a world of difference to one’s self-esteem.