Self-Esteem Part 1

There are several facets to self-esteem. There is low, high and inflated self-esteem. As you might guess the esteem we most want to realize is high self-esteem. This allows us to speak freely about our thoughts and feelings while respecting the rights of others as well. If we have high self worth, we don’t worry too much about what other people will think of us. As you likely know, with low self-esteem, we are always worried about this. We live our lives in fear most of the time because we want people to ‘like‘ us. But this type of thinking can get in the way of building healthy relationships as we are always bending over backwards to please others. This is a difficult position to be in because often the sacrifices to our own well-being are threatened which can eventually lead to anger towards others. How does this work? Well, we give and give and give, often without much in return, but the other person doesn’t know how we are feeling because we’re too afraid to tell them. This can build up resentment towards others which often results in us ‘blowing our tops‘. If this type of anger is what you experience, then you may suffer from low self-esteem.

Of course there are other things that could cause us to become unhinged. Possibly we’ve just had enough of other people and the decisions they make. Or maybe we’ve been keeping something inside for a long time and eventually we just blow. Becoming angry because we’ve allowed others to walk all over us is a sign of low self-esteem. Familiar thoughts would be: I’ve always been nice to him, how can he do this to me; I’ve been doing her laundry for weeks now and have never had any thanks. The truth is that once we start ‘doing‘ for others, they begin to expect it. We’re all nicey nice and say we don’t mind, but eventually it gets us down; especially if the other person begins to expect even more from us or criticizes what we’ve done–because people with low self-esteem really can’t handle criticism. I mean, we spend most of our time being self-critical so when someone else criticizes us, we can break down and feel even smaller than we already do. I really wish I could handle criticism–and I can, sometimes–because I want constructive criticism in order to become a better writer, thinker and speaker. Constructive criticism is a really healthy part of our lives and learning to handle it is extremely difficult when we suffer from low self-esteem.

Because ‘being walked all over‘ is unhealthy for our own well-being and for building positive relationships, trying to build our self worth is an important process on the road to healthy emotional being. “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right“. We’ve talked a lot about the connection between our thoughts, behaviours and feelings and it comes into play again here. Building high self-esteem stems from changing our thoughts. I remember being very unsettled about this process. Telling myself things I don’t really believe just didn’t sit well with me, but I persevered and continued to work on my negative self-talk. One exercise, I remember well, is to think of positive affirmations that begin with each letter of the alphabet. My list went like this: I can be amazing, I am boisterous, I can be confident (you notice I have put in words like ‘can be‘ instead of ‘am‘ because it is more believable for me), I am dedicated, I can be efficient, etc.. Try this exercise if you struggle with low self esteem. Remember that to get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. Eventually, you can progress to more ‘ams‘. I have these statements hanging on my wall at home and I read them often. What actually happens is that we begin to believe these positive affirmations. They become part of our vocabulary and fill our thoughts. Having these thoughts in our heads results in belief of them which changes our behaviours and our feelings as we begin to stand up for ourselves and speak our minds which allows us to begin to feel more positive about ourselves. Give yourself a chance to become the person you are without the self-criticism. You CAN do it!

Check out these CCI resources to help you follow the steps you can take. It is also best if you have someone helping you like a therapist or social worker as it gives you someone to share your progress and journey with. It is easy to become discouraged and difficult to persevere on your own, but you CAN do it!

Use your own creativity or this example to come up with your own positive affirmation list. Then display it somewhere you can see it often! Try saying them out loud until you actually believe them.

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