Understanding Self! (Esteem)

Few of us feel BAD about oneself time to time... feelings of low self-esteem may be triggered by being treated poorly by someone else, or by a person’s own judgments of him or herself. This is normal. However, low self-esteem is a constant companion for too many people, especially those who experience depression, anxiety, phobias, psychosis, delusional thinking, or who have a chronic illness or a disability. If you are one of these people, you may go through life feeling bad about yourself needlessly. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying the quality of life, doing the things you want to do, and working toward personal goals. You have a right to feel good about yourself. However, it can be very difficult to feel good about yourself when you are under the stress of having symptoms that are hard to manage, when you are dealing with a disability, when you are having a difficult time, or when others are treating you badly. At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem. For instance, you may begin feeling bad about yourself when someone insults you, you are under a lot of pressure at work, or you are having a difficult time getting along with someone in your family. Then you begin to give yourself negative self-talk, like "I'm no good." That may make you feel so bad about yourself that you do something to hurt yourself or someone else, such as getting drunk or yelling at your children. By using the folowing ideas and activities, you can avoid doing things that make you feel even worse and do those things that will make you feel better about yourself.

Why do some people have low self-esteem? Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent/incompetent") and emotions (for example, triumph/despair, pride/shame). Behavior may reflect self-esteem (for example, assertiveness/timorousness, confidence/caution). Psychologists usually regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic (trait self-esteem), though normal, short-term variations (state self-esteem) occur. Self-esteem can apply specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer, and feel proud of that in particular") or have global extent (for example, "I believe I am a good person, and feel proud of myself in general"). Self-esteem is distinct from self-confidence and self-efficacy, which involve beliefs about ability and future performance. It is very common to receive lots of negative messages as a child. It is fairly common for parents to tell active children "You are doing it the wrong way. Look at the mess you've made! Can't you can do anything right etc!" And those messages end up being stored (along with other childhood memories) in the back of your mind, a bit like a tape recording. In addition to these verbal messages, if you were made to feel worthless or unwanted though abuse or neglect, those experiences can also have a lasting impact. Our early years are our most impressionable. Even when our adult lives provide good reasons to feel positive about ourselves the earlier messages tend to outweigh the recent. So in adult life, when you go out to meet friends, or attend a job interview, or enrol in further study, the old thoughts and feelings come back. The messages become activated. Something tells you that you're not as good as other people, that you will fail, that you will look stupid, that you don't deserve what others have. Whatever the original cause of your low self-esteem, it is kept low today by your present day belief system. Your own current self-talk keeps the early programming alive.

How can I improve self esteem? There are many high achieving people suffering low self-esteem. The answer is not simply more achievement. The key to changing low self-esteem is to tackle the negative self-talk causing it. However, if you try to move from believing you are worthless to thinking you are wonderful it won't work. You don't (yet) believe you are wonderful so it feels meaningless to pretend so. Start small with believable changes that you know to be true. For example, you might think you are an unworthy or bad person. But you can also admit Adolf Hitler was worse. So, assuming you haven't committed mass murder lately, you can genuinely accept you aren't the worst person ever, even if it sometimes feels like you are. So the realisation that "There are far worse people than me" becomes your own personal affirmation. An affirmation is a statement of truth that you are on your way to believing. Start your day telling yourself this (or something similar). Write it down on some little yellow sticky notes and place them in on your fridge, mirror, or your desk and recite your affirmation often each day. Gradually you are on your way to believing it. It won't happen overnight but it will happen!! It's a great start if you can lift your self-esteem off the floor, just a little bit! This may not seem very uplifting to some people. But if you have spent your life thinking you are worthless it makes a huge difference to modify that belief, just a little bit. It is like a single candle being introduced to a dark room. The initial impact of the first candle is more profound than fifty more candles. Eventually you can move onto increasingly positive affirmations.

Let's try this exercises... Dr. Dyer, author of some of the world's best selling self-help books, suggests the following exercise for rethinking self-esteem, self-confidence and approval. Nominate one person you greatly admire or approve of. It could be someone you know well, or someone famous. It may be some historical figure like Lincoln, Gandhi, or Mandela. Now ask yourself how much time that person is likely to have spent seeking approval from other people? - Without exception we respect straight talking people who back their own judgment, and stick to their guns regardless of disapproval. Dyer calls this the "Supreme Irony of Approval-Seeking Behaviour." The people we approve of are the ones who have their own sense of worth and don't check to see we approve. Fritz Perls; founder of Gestalt Therapy, defines anxiety as that moment when we don't know if we are going to get applause or tomatoes! The truly self-confident person, the person who radiates genuine confidence and charisma, is the one who doesn't need to know. Here are few things you can do Every Day!

Attent to your own needs and wants. Listen to what your body, your mind, and your heart are telling you. For instance, if your body is telling you that you have been sitting down too long, stand up and stretch. If your heart is longing to spend more time with a special friend, do it. If your mind is telling you to clean up your basement, listen to your favorite music, or stop thinking bad thoughts about yourself, take those thoughts seriously. Take very good care of yourself. As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been on taking care of others, on just getting by, or on "behaving well." Begin today to take good care of yourself. Treat yourself as a wonderful parent would treat a small child or as one very best friend might treat another. If you work at taking good care of yourself, you will find that you feel better about yourself. 

Take good care of yourself.  Eat healthy foods and avoid junk foods; Exercise. Moving your body helps you to feel better and improves your self-esteem; Take time to do things you enjoy. You may be so busy, or feel so badly about yourself, that you spend little or no time doing things you enjoy - things like listening to music, playing a musical instrument, doing a craft project, flying a kite, or going fishing etc.; Get something done that you have been putting off; Do things that make use of your own special talents and abilities. For instance, if you are good with your hands, then make things for yourself, family, and friends; Dress in clothes that make you feel good about yourself; Give yourself rewards — you are a great person; Spend time with people (friends) who make you feel good about yourself — people who treat you well; Make your living space a place that honors the person you are. Whether you live in a single room, a small apartment, or a large home, make that space comfortable and attractive for you; Display items that you find attractive or that remind you of your achievements or of special times or people in your life; Make your meals a special time. Turn off the television, radio, and stereo. Set the table, even if you are eating alone. Light a candle or put some flowers or an attractive object in the center of the table. Arrange your food in an attractive way on your plate. If you eat with others, encourage discussion of pleasant topics; Take advantage of opportunities to learn something new or improve your skills; Begin doing those things that you know will make you feel better about yourself — like going on a diet, beginning an exercise program or keeping your living space clean; Do something nice for another person; Make it a point to treat yourself well every day. Before you go to bed each night, write about how you treated yourself well during the day. You may be doing some of these things now. There will be others you need to work on. You will find that you will continue to learn new and better ways to take care of yourself. As you incorporate these changes into your life, your self-esteem will continue to improve.

Final thoughts on Self-esteem... The whole notion of self-esteem can be seen as a bit silly. The idea that one individual can have higher or lower worth than someone else is offensive to commonsense, to most religions, and to anti-discrimination legislation. We would do better to encourage people to pursue happiness and make the most of life without worrying about self-worth! If you really must measure your worth try this formula. You are one person. There are 6.5 billion other people on earth. So you're exact worth is one 6.5th billionth. Not much really! But then, if a couple of large countries like China and India were to wage nuclear war, your worth would increase dramatically to say, one in four billion. Would this make you a happier and more worthwhile person? Of course not! Don't be ridiculous!. Forget self-worth. Learn to not take yourself too seriously and be aware of enjoying each and every moments of this beautiful existence called "life"!

This is a Compiled Article

1 comment:

Unknown said...

very good resource. nice compilation. thanks