Self EsteemSelf esteem is an issue often explored during counselling. Beliefs about ourselves are learned as a result of the experiences we have had especially from our early life. The beliefs we have about ourselves are often from conclusions we arrive at based on what has happened so far, this means at some point it made sense to have those beliefs. Unfortunately, as life goes on we don't update them and can carry them into the present situation based on old, outdated information.
There can be many reasons for a person to feel low self esteem. Often, messages from our childhood get stuck in a loop and a person may repeat such beliefs, consciously or subconsciously, to oneself. Messages such as, 'you're stupid, be seen and not heard, can't do anything right, will fail, you're fat, you're ugly' etc, can be believed. We strongly come to believe the negative statements about ourself and it's not surprising when we feel bad and experience strong negative emotions.
Emotions that we might feel:
Thoughts that feed low self esteem:
- Negative, self-critical: I'm so stupid, I'm worthless, It's my fault, I'm a failure, I'm not good enough, I'm incompetent.
- Unhelpful Thinking Habits which might include: Mental Filter, Mind Reading, Self Blame, Internal Critic, Compare & Despair, Shoulds and Musts, Black and White Thinking
Behaviours that we develop:
- try to please others
- get defensive when we believe we're being criticised
- under-achieve or work harder to compensate and cover up our incompetence
- shy and passive around others
- avoid situations and people
- neglect or abuse ourselves
Through awareness we have a choice whether to accept or reject them and consequently can create new healthy beliefs. Low self esteem can also occur if you have been bullied as a child and this can cause deep wounds. Bullying in adulthood can make you believe that you are in some way inadequate. Perhaps mistakes you have made in life have been so significant, that you can't forgive yourself and so suffer depression.