Are you worth it? - Build your self-esteem
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
29th April, 20140 Comments
Brigham Young tells us,
“Why should we worry about what others think of us, do we have more confidence in their opinions than in our own?”
Or perhaps you are more with Elizabeth Taylor when she says,
“I don’t entirely approve of some of the things that I have done or am or have been. But I’m me. God knows I am me.”
Perhaps Marilyn Munroe was nearer the mark when she spoke the words,
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person that you are.”
Self-esteem might be thought of as the confidence you place in your own worth, on your abilities, your self-respect. In many ways it represents the value that you place on you your self-worth. With this in mind I think the quote that best springs to mind is the anonymous saying that “If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price”.
Yet all these fine words are of little use if you find yourself in a dark place, where self-criticism and self-blame are the norm. Often you feel shame, the difference being that you feel you are the problem rather than an event or an idea. Often these beliefs will have built up over time and will have been as a result of negative experiences in your life. While this is often in early life, it can occur at any time. Typical situations that can build low self-esteem are bullying, abusive relationships, stress or a traumatic event(s).
It is typical that we will criticise ourselves in a sharp tone in absolute terms such as, you should have… you are stupid… if only you had… Our tone lacks any compassion or forgiveness that we would be quick to offer a friend.
To tackle your self-esteem issues, at the simplest level your plan would be to:
- Learn to identify when you are having unhelpful or critical thoughts.
- Challenge those thoughts and focus on the present.
- Live for the moment and introduce a statute of limitations on the past mistakes.
- Offer yourself at least the compassion you would offer others.
You are probably already aware when you are being self-critical, but as soon as you notice it you should ask yourself is that a fact or a belief - I think I am stupid, but what factual evidence do I have for that statement and similarly for other unhelpful thoughts?
Challenging those thoughts and really noticing that beliefs and feelings are not facts will help put the unhelpful thoughts in their place.
Alongside that, notice the skills that you do have (and you will have some, even if they are very small like taking the time to read this article) praise yourself for taking the time to make positive changes and focus on the future it promises.
We have all made mistakes in the past, indeed that is the way that the human race learns things like talking, walking, riding a bike and so forth. Mistakes are part of being human, we learn from them and move on. So learn from your mistakes - even the huge ones - accept the learning and move on. If it comes to mind again gently move it aside telling yourself that you have accepted it is in your past.
Finally, if it were your best friend think of the words of empathy you would offer them, can you not offer yourself at least that level - perhaps if you can offer yourself that level of love, then you can grow as a person and build the self-esteem for you are worth it.
Related articles from our experts
- How we think of ourselves - a cause of low mood and depression
Emma Dunn, Insightfulness Counselling and Psychotherapy24th October, 2016
- Identifying low self-esteem thoughts and behaviours
Claire Black - MSc, BSc, Dip. MBACP17th October, 2016
- The pursuit of high self-esteem: Part 2
Dr Sarah Jane Khalid12th October, 2016
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