Very few of us feel 100% good about ourselves all of the time. Difficult circumstances or even damaging early experiences can leave us feeling worthless and inadequate, our self esteem low. Using the best modern counselling methods, I can help you to feel really happy and comfortable in your own skin. Having low self-esteem is miserable – it can mean constant self-doubt and self-criticism, social anxiety and isolation, suppressed anger, loneliness and even a sense of shame – but the good news is that it can be overcome.
What causes low self-esteem?
Everyone has an internal critical voice, but people with low self-esteem tend to have a more vocal and intense critical voice. The critic is so woven into the fabric of your thoughts that it becomes an accepted part of your life, a part you don’t stop to question. Therefore, you fail to recognise the destructive and constant effect the critic has in your day to day life. The critic in you can:
- Automatically blame you when things go wrong.
- Remind you of your failures in life-but never remind of your accomplishments.
- Exaggerate your weaknesses – “I`m useless, I can never complete anything, I will never achieve success in anything.”
- Create indecision emanating from an exaggerated fear of making a mistake.
- Diminish your confidence in facing new challenges.
- Leave you with a sense of shame, even though you have nothing to be ashamed about
It’s possible to be successful and have all the best things that life has to offer- a supportive family, good relationships, a job we love, a good standard of living – but still feel crippled inside by feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.
Can low self esteem start in childhood?
Feelings like this often come from our childhood: one of the most vulnerable and important times in life when our view of the world and its possibilities, and our place in it is being shaped. Many beliefs we hold about ourselves today reflect messages we have received from those significant people who have had an influence in our lives – our parents, our siblings, our friends, our teachers and others in authority. In our childhoods and teens, even a one-off humiliating or shaming experiences (such as being asked to read aloud in class when reading is something we struggle with) can have a catastrophic long term effect on how we see ourselves, If we were lucky enough to receive generally positive feedback, we are more likely to see ourselves as worthwhile and have a healthy level of self-esteem. If we have received mostly negative feedback and were criticised or teased by others, we are more likely to struggle with poor self-esteem.
Can it be caused by life events?
Life events can shake even the most rock solid levels of self-esteem. For instance, if someone is made redundant, through that they may lose their main source of income and so also their sense of security: of being able to plan their life and provide for their loved ones. The lost job may also have been an important source of status (of feeling valued and respected by others) and may, in addition, have been a source of meaning: a way of using their skills, being challenged and stretched and at the same time contributing positively to the wider community. These are all important needs for every one of us: security, status, and meaning, and not being able to get them met can have a major impact on our feelings of worth and value as human beings, sometimes even triggering a slide into the vicious cycle of self-blame, worry, anxiety and ultimately, depression.
Sometimes feeling guilty about something we have done or not done (but feel we should have) can also affect our self-esteem. If we are feeling guilty or bad about ourselves for some reason, whether our feelings are justified or not, it can affect how we behave with others: whether we make eye contact appropriately, whether we slouch or hold our head up high and all this can have a domino effect: affecting how other people see us and treat us and potentially reinforcing our negative feelings about ourselves.
Experiences like this can have a life-long, negative impact and can leave us with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and shame that continue throughout our lives- however outwardly successful we are as adults.
Fortunately, using the best, modern, counselling methods it is usually possible to help people overcome self-esteem issues and the feelings of shame, inadequacy and worthlessness left by current difficult circumstances or damaging earlier experiences.
Click here for more articles: Perfectionism and self esteem, shame and recovery, stress and sensitivity, mindfulness and acceptance, mindfulness and compassion, stress and assertiveness, stress busting techniques.