Glimpses of Low Self-Esteem
Sometimes I feel quite exhausted. Trying to please other people is relentless. Actually I don’t mind too much because at least it means I’m not alone. I feel hurt when people tell me to ‘get a life’. It really plays on my mind and I keep going over what they’ve said. I have got a life. It’s dedicated to helping others. I wouldn’t dream of imposing myself in any way or giving my opinion about something. That’s not who I am.
Many people come to counselling and say things like ‘I have problems with my self-esteem’ or ‘I have always had low self-esteem’ and this is usually because other people have made comments about their behaviour. Low self-esteem is sometimes used to describe someone who does not seem to like or value themselves and who believes that they are in some way inferior to others.
Low self-esteem can be associated with a lack of assertiveness and can make people vulnerable to being exploited. Low self-esteem can pervade every aspect of someone’s life and result in feelings of sadness, shame, disappointment or frustration.
Self-esteem is linked to our ‘conditions of worth’ and these refer to messages that are received by an individual, often in childhood, which imply that a person has particular attributes or qualities and must behave in a certain way in order to be accepted. Such conditions may be positive or negative.
Often a person with low self-esteem will use phrases starting with ‘I should…….…..’ or ‘I ought to…………….’
People suffering from low self-esteem may be susceptible to depression. Having a negative opinion about ourselves can have a significant impact on how we live our lives and how we relate to other people. It can prevent us from achieving our potential and make us feel isolated, unhappy and ‘not good enough’. It means that we constantly evaluate ourselves in a negative way.
Thoughts associated with low self-esteem
I can’t cope
I don’t fit in
I am inferior
I’m not good enough
Behaviour associated with low self-esteem
Signs of low self-esteem
Poor self care
Ruminating over events
Negative self talk
Avoiding potentially pleasurable activities
Use of alcohol or drugs
What causes low self-esteem?
Our experiences while growing up have a profound effect on how we view the world and our place in it. Other factors which may be influential include:
Family of origin
Treatment at school
How can counselling help with low self-esteem?
Counselling may help you to understand that the negative views you have of yourself are actually an opinion and not facts and can therefore be challenged. Having the opportunity to talk about how you feel in a supportive environment where you are not judged can be therapeutic in itself. Counselling can help you to learn more about yourself and to recognise your strengths and resources. You can consider what you would like your life to be like and discover what changes you would like to make.
Copyright 2010 Christine Bonsmann. All rights reserved.