If you could choose just one characteristic to help you face life’s challenges, positive self-esteem would be a really good choice. It would help you in all areas of life, such as with school, romantic relationships, developing friendships, job interviews, career challenges, and feeling secure about trying new things in life.
Self-esteem is a measure of how much you value yourself. Qualities that naturally manifest from healthy self-esteem include self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. Put simply, when your self-esteem is solid you feel good about yourself. You also feel entitled to enjoy your life. When self-esteem is strong, it’s easier to accept flaws in yourself and others – this leads to greater acceptance and compassion for yourself and others.
Low self-esteem, on the other hand, can be very painful and a significant disadvantage in all areas of life. Ironically, arrogance, egotism, and narcissism do not come from having too much self-esteem, but rather too little. Without feeling a healthy sense of value from within, low self-esteem can lead to seeking and/or reliance on other’s approval and admiration to feel worthy. Common signs of low self-esteem include:
Shame is an emotion that is often underlying low self-esteem. Shame can be described as an inner sense of inferiority or defectiveness. In exploring shame, it’s useful to compare it to guilt. Guilt is a focus on your behavior – “I did something bad.” Shame is a focus on your sense of self - “I am bad.” Shame leads to feeling unworthy of love, belonging, or acceptance. Shaming in childhood - by parents, teachers, peers, or other important people – is a common source of low self-esteem.
Negative beliefs typically go hand-in-hand with low self-esteem. Whether conscious or unconscious, negative beliefs wield a significant influence over how you see yourself in the world. Negative beliefs function a lot like a lens that you view life through. Life looks a lot different when you’re looking through an “I’m not good enough” lens versus an “I am good enough” lens. Common negative beliefs that are connected to shame and low self-esteem include: “I’m inadequate,” “I’m worthless,” “I’m a failure,” and “I’m bad.”
Trauma refers to difficult experiences that have a lasting negative impact. Trauma can be the result of a severe event – like an abusive experience - or a common occurrence – such as ongoing criticism by a parent. Examples of traumatic experiences that can lead to childhood shaming and low self-esteem include:
Positive self-esteem is such an important and valuable quality. If you’ve experienced childhood trauma and unmet attachment needs, your self-esteem may not be as strong as you’d like. Low self-esteem can block you from pursuing important life goals (e.g., traveling, starting a business, going back to school, getting in shape, increasing emotional intimacy) and applying healthy life skills (e.g., assertiveness, initiative, determination, discipline). Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that counseling for low self-esteem can help:
If you’d like to learn more about counseling for self-esteem or how we could work together to address your self-esteem and confidence, feel free to contact me to set up a free phone consultation.
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