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Low Self Esteem Advice

Low Self Esteem Advice and Definition

Webster’s dictionary defines self-esteem as a confidence and satisfaction in oneself; self-respect. Self-esteem (or self-image) is how you think and feel about yourself.

Someone with healthy self-esteem feels they are worthy and able to cope with life’s challenges. They have a positive, yet realistic view of themselves and their abilities. Even when things seem to go wrong, they are able to accept themselves and feel they are worthy. People with low self-esteem or low self-confidence doubt their abilities and have unrealistic expectations for themselves. Their sense of self-worth is excessively dependent on what others think and they often put themselves down or judge themselves very harshly.

To summarize, self-esteem is made up of the thoughts and feelings that you have about yourself and is influenced by the way you talk to yourself (i.e., your inner dialogue). As humans, one of our unique abilities is the awareness of ourselves. We are aware of what we do and our impact on others and ourselves. This ability allows us to live in a world with others and develop close relationships. Our internal voice judges our behavior on a daily basis and makes adjustments based on feedback from others. A person with low self-esteem has an overly critical voice with a negative slant; nothing is good enough, failures are highlighted and you are always criticized. Psychologist Eugene Sagan terms this voice “the pathological critic” – always looking for the negative and never seeing the positive.

How Does Self-Esteem Develop?

Our sense of ourselves develops throughout our lives. As infants and young children, much of our sense of self comes from our parents. When parents provide an accepting and nurturing environment, children develop a solid foundation on which to develop good feelings about themselves. If parents are excessively demanding or critical (or discourage moves toward independence), children may begin to doubt themselves and feel inadequate or unworthy. As children grow, attend school and develop peer relationships, successes and failures in these relationships affect self-esteem as well. Thus, the messages we are sent eventually become internalized and can become the messages we send ourselves. We then develop a set of assumptions and beliefs about ourselves based on prior experiences.

Critical Beliefs and Thought Patterns that Create Low Self-Esteem

There are many ways in which people talk to themselves. We may encourage ourselves during a difficult task, “Keep at it. You’re almost done. You can do it.” We may also talk to ourselves in a negative voice. Although it is important to evaluate ourselves accurately, if this voice is constant or very negative it can do harm to our self-esteem and is termed the “pathological critic”. The pathological critic keeps up a negative stream of self-talk. “You can’t do it. You’re stupid. You’ll never make it.” Frequent techniques used by the pathological critic which undermine self-esteem are:

Overgeneralization. If you did not do well in one situation, the pathological critic overgeneralizes to all situations – “I got a D on the quiz in Math today. I’m going to flunk that class and all the rest. I’ll never be able to graduate from college.”
Global Labeling.Your pathological critic uses pejorative labels to describe yourself rather than accurately describing your qualities. If you withdraw from a class you’re having difficulty in, you’re pathological critic may label you – “I’m a quitter. I never finish anything. I’m a loser.”
Minimization of the Positive.With the pathological critic, good things don’t count nearly as much as bad ones. You focus on the negative and discount the positive – “I won four tennis matches but lost one and that makes me feel terrible about myself.”
Comparing Yourself to Others.The pathological critic scans the room and finds the people who are better in some way. Person A is prettier, person B is smarter and person C is a better athlete. Somehow, these all get combined into one perfect person who has everything you should have and you are unworthy in comparison.
Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Be Patient – Change takes time and is an ongoing process. Remember a time in the past when you learned a difficult skill. You didn’t learn to ride a bike or swim or rollerblade the first time out. It involved many attempts and many mistakes (and many bumps and bruises). Improving your self-esteem is the same kind of process.

Challenge your Pathological Critic

Notice the ways that you put yourself down. Make a list of the negative statements you make to yourself everyday.
Challenge each negative statement
a. “Just because I got a D on that test, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to graduate from college. I just need to talk to the professor and learn a new way of studying that material.”

b. “Dropping one class doesn’t mean I am a quitter. I’ve finished many other things in my life. It means that subject was difficult for me.”

Emphasize the Positive – Give yourself credit for everything you try, whether you succeed or not. Focus on the effort rather than on the end product.

Utilize “Thought Stopping” – When you find yourself thinking a negative thought about yourself, imagine a large stop sign and tell yourself to “STOP”. Switch to a more positive thought such as “I’m okay.” “I’m a good person”.

Set Realistic Goals – Start with small steps and give yourself credit for each little step you achieve. When your confidence is low, it takes an extra effort to even begin. Instead of worrying about being perfect, praise yourself for making an effort.

List the Positive – Make a list of positive things about yourself and post them in a place you see every day. Spend a few moments accepting the positive.

Fake it “Til You Make it – Tell yourself positive things even if you don’t believe them at first. Sometimes it may take awhile to see that you really are a worthwhile person, that others like you, and that you are succeeding.

Be Compassionate with Yourself – Frequently, we are more compassionate and accepting with others than with ourselves. Give yourself the same understanding and acceptance you give others.

Recommended Books to Read

Self-Esteem, Revised Edition. Matthew McKay & Patrick Fanning, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 1995. This book describes self-esteem and the negative messages we give ourselves. It follows with a discussion of ways to counter the “pathological critic” and how to deal with shoulds, mistakes, and criticism. Discussion of other techniques such as visualization and hypnosis are included

The Self-Esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Your Personal Strengths. Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, Carole Honeychurch & Catharine Stuker, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 1999.

Ten Days to Self-Esteem. David D. Burns, NY: William Morrow, 1993. This workbook has many exercises focusing on the interrelationships of depression, anxiety and self-esteem. The emphasis is on self-exploration and on changing your moods through changing your thinking.

Cause: Constant criticism early in life; abuse or bullying by others.

Effect: Having low self esteem tends to make a person withdraw from social situations. You may feel you are in constant emotional turmoil and suffer from anxiety problems, eating disorders or depression. You may also find it difficult to function in social situations and impossible to accept compliments. People with low self esteem generally have low expectations from life and often neglect their physical and psychological health.

Solutions: Believe in a better opinion of yourself.

Do activities you enjoy on a regular basis.

Develop social skills and interact with other people.

Take credit for your successes.

Get Low Self Esteem Advice from our community.

Help with Bullying

Causes of Bullying

Bullies may be jealous, angry at something else or cowardly, and looking for someone to bear the brunt of their emotions. You may get picked on for being different, or because they think you will not hurt them back.

Effects of Bullying

Relentless name-calling, psychological or physical abuse can make you feel depressed, anxious, worthless, victimized or even suicidal. You may lose your confidence, have difficulty sleeping and suffer from stress-related illnesses.

Possible Solutions to bullying depending on circumstances

  • Confront the bullies and tell them how you feel.
  • Don’t give in to them.
  • Speak to someone in authority if the bullying is taking place at work or school.
  • Keep emails, texts and letters to use as evidence if necessary.
  • Remember it is not your fault.
  • Take assertiveness training.
  • Avoid being physical with bullies.
  • Join a support group.
  • Counselling may help you to regain your confidence.
  • Talk to someone YOU CAN TRUST to deal with the situation properly.
Try to act on your situation now. Leaving the situation can make it harder to tackle in future. Join our message board for support or leave a comment below.
UK Bullying Helpline: Tel: 0845 22 55 787
US Bullying Helpline: Tel: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Never suffer in silence, if you need help with bullying, talk to someone

Help with Debt and Overspending

People who overspend regularly are often trying to fill an emotional void. They get a buzz from shopping and feel a compulsive urge to keep spending money that they cannot afford.

You may feel guilty, anxious and depressed when you ring up large debts, and worry about how you will manage to pay them off. People who are in debt often continue to spend money as a form of escapism.

  • Do not stay in denial about your spending.
  • Keep a budget book and write down everything that you spend.
  • Contact a Debt Management Centre for advice on paying back your debts.
  • Do not buy things on impulse. Always think about purchases and take time to decide whether you really need it.
  • Avoid shopping centres and temptation.
  • Set strict limits on what you will spend each week and stick to them.

Feeling Lonely Help

Cause: Low self esteem, divorce, a relationship break-up or life circumstances that cause you to become cut off from other people.

Effect: Feeling isolated, empty and disconnected from others and the world around you. You might also feel abandoned, insecure, anxious, depressed, hopeless and resentful.

Solutions: Therapy will help you to understand why you are lonely, and teach you how to get rid of negative thoughts. Group therapy may also be helpful. Hypnosis or anti-depressants can help you to break the cycle. Join a club that interests you in order to meet likeminded people. Getting a pet will also provide you with company and something to focus on.

If you feel that you have nobody to talk to and your life feels empty then there are certain things you can do to get yourself out of this emotional black hole.

Many people that suffer from feeling lonely also suffer from low self-esteem. There is no easy way around this and if you want to overcome feeling lonely, then you have to work hard to get yourself out of it.

When I first moved to the UK some sixteen years ago, the feeling of loneliness was totally overpowering. I was happily married, but stuck in the house all day whilst my husband was at work. I ended up sitting in front of the telly and watching every soap opera going, whilst eating a copious amount of unhealthy food. I knew nobody apart from my English husband and I felt totally isolated. I realised that the only person to get myself out of the situation I was in was myself.

So, I enrolled in a full-time business course at a local college and it changed everything around. Suddenly, I was meeting people every day and I was quickly making friends.

As life goes by, we never find ourselves in the same situation. You may split up with your partner or suffer an illness. Life can throw lots of surprises your way, but there are ways of combating feeling lonely and I have listed some points below, which has over the years helped me getting out of feeling lonely:

  • Smile! My grandmother always used to say that ‘life is too short to go around looking miserable – you will have a much better chance of getting to talk to someone if you have a cheerful disposition’. Lets face it, nobody wants to be around someone who is miserable, so although you are not feeling 100% cheerful, put on a smile and be friendly with whomever you meet.
  • Friends! Most people have at least one good friend and my advice is to look after your friends, because they are there to give you strength. If you have friends that get you down, then don’t see them. Meet up with friends who are positive!
  • Learn! Enrich your life by taking up a hobby of some sort. In my experience, everyone has a hidden talent. In my case, it was making jewellery and it is something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life. Whether or not it is watercolour painting or exercise, think about what you would like to do if you could choose anything!
  • Be friendly! I have found that being friendly to everyone I meet, makes people want to talk to me.
  • Read! If you enjoy reading as much as I do, then set aside some time to read books that you have always wanted to read.
  • Dance! Put on your favourite music and dance!
  • Spoil yourself! Indulge yourself at least once a week. It does not have to be expensive! My favourite indulgent is a scented bath, a glass of champagne and a good book. What is yours?

This list could go on forever, but bear in mind that life is too short to suffer from loneliness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Open up your mind and set yourself a goal to make every day special.

Feeling Lonely Help in our Forums

Fear of Intimacy Advice

Cause of fear of intimacy: Being hurt in the past, having an emotionally and socially isolated childhood, and an introverted personality can all cause people to fear intimacy.

Effect of fear of intimacy: If you fear social intimacy you will build an emotional wall around yourself, withhold personal information from friends and family, and be afraid to reveal your true self. Even your partner may not know you emotionally, intellectually or spiritually. You may withdraw from people, lie, or be overly talkative to hide your real feelings. This leads to anxiety.

Solutions to fear of intimacy: Practice expressing your true feelings to people instead of hiding them. Eventually this will become a habit and you will feel less tense and vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to tell people when you are angry or upset- they will most likely have picked up on it by your body language anyway. Sharing negative emotions with your friends or partner can be very beneficial. Talk about personal and everyday experiences in an open, honest manner until it becomes second nature. Let people get to know the real you.

Get Fear of Intimacy Advice from our Discreet and Friendly Forum

Feeling Bored, Cures for Boredom

Causes of Boredom: Lack of stimulation or interesting activities. Being trapped in a dull, repetitive job or life pattern. Being unable to get out and about due to illness, agoraphobia or other health problems.

Effects of Boredom: You may feel that there is no purpose to your life. Boredom may make you feel worried and depressed, or abuse drugs or alcohol. Sleeping too much, daydreaming excessively, over-eating and difficulty concentrating are other signs of boredom.

Solutions to Boredom: Inject interest into your life by starting new projects. Try getting involved with voluntary work, socializing with new people or learning a new craft or hobby. Step outside your comfort zone. Consider changing your job or doing a further education course. Take on challenges, eat healthily and try to exercise every day.

Feeling Bored? Join our Message Board and meet new people

Self Defeating Behaviors, The A’s

To conquer self defeating behaviour we need some form of order or path to follow. The A’s are a good way of centering the behaviour and our thinking, joining therapy247 offers help and advice with the following…

Acceptance

The more we deny or repress our affliction the worse it becomes, the more we try and run away from it the worse it gets.

Acceptance does not mean we agree or even like condone our affiliction,  but we do ourselves a favour by stopping wishing things were different .

The more we do not want to have the affliction the more it sticks and the worse it becomes. By not accepting our affliction we make our mindset worse.

So it helps to slow the mind down by accepting the affliction, start to see the affliction as a challenge and not as a halt to the quality of our life.

Attitude

A negative attitude will keep us in a negative mode, as mentioned start to see that affliction as a challenge and not as some monster that beats you every time.

The SAS – Special air service Motto is “Who Dares Wins” we have to dare in order to face our affliction. We have to learn to muster up courage, remember courage is not about being fearless, but more about going into a situation with the mouth dry, the hands shaking and the heart beating like hell, but still doing it. So attitude is important, a sense of “This is not going to beat me”. Regardless of our situation, whether that be, being dumped, panic attacks, shyness, it is the negative attitude that keeps us from having a good quality of life.

See your affliction as a challenge.

Action

If we think the same, react the same, want the same, expect the same, act the same, do the same, need the same , think the same, say the same, then we will FEEL the SAME !

We need action in order to transcend our problems – The simple answer is to practice opposites.

How do we practice opposites? By learning to undo the self defeating behaviour. The word is “Learning” . That is the great thing about therapy247.com you will be able to learn from other sufferers actions and attitudes. We see our affliction as a challenge and learn to over come it a day at a time. There is no rush easy does it.

Action starts when we open our eyes in the morning, our attitude and action will decide what sort of day we have.

It is better to move forward an inch than to stay stagnant – So do what you can today to face your affliction.

Awareness

Become aware of what therapy247.com has to offer, become aware that courage is not something outside of ourselves, but an attitude.

Become aware that you have to practice opposites in order to beat the affliction. In short if you do the opposite of yourself defeating behaviour patterns, then you will recover.

Application

Apply your plan or action to your daily routine. Do not just read something and think that is a good idea! Apply and action.

Think about keywords that will spur you on such as C.H.A.N.G.E. – G.N.A.T. – S.T.I.N.G.O. – B.E.E. – W.A.S.P. – F.L.Y. – A.N.T.

Avoidance

The more you avoid the places or the reality of your situation, the more you will stay the same.  We have to nuture courage to face our problems or to accept being dumped or such like.

An Agoraphobic will not get over Agoraphobia by staying indoors, someone who has been dumped in a relationship will not get over it by staying indoors and diving into self pity or disbelief. We have to face reality and that is either by action or by accepting the situation, remember the opposite of acceptance is a ‘spin dryer mind’!

So a lot of a little instead of little of a lot when it comes to recovery, face it an inch at a time, do it slowly and not in a hurried manner.

Allow

Allow yourself not to be perfect

Allow yourself to make mistakes

Allow yourself not to know all the answers

Allow yourself to have quality time

Allow yourself to give yourself compliments

Allow yourself to recover (You are worth it)

Allow other people to be what they are (If your happiness depends on what other people say or do you are going to be miserable for the rest of your life) Let them be as they are for your sanity.

Allow yourself to be angry at times (Do not let it go into full blown resentment)

Help with Summer Depression

Cause: The cause is unknown, but thought to be linked to an increased amount of sunlight and higher temperatures. People may feel overwhelmed and exposed by the increase in daylight hours.

Effects: Summer depression can cause a low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment in activities, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, agitation, intolerance to heat, decreased appetite and weight loss, increased sex drive and thoughts of suicide. You may feel the need to stay indoors with the curtains closed.

Solutions: Talking about your feelings, counselling and anti-depressants may help. Include plenty of fresh fruit and salads in your diet, take cool showers, and use fans or air-conditioning to prevent overheating. If you feel the need to stay indoors, take up new indoor interests such as reading, crafts, music and creative projects.

Prevalence of Summer Depression

Summer SAD is thought to affect less than 1% of the US population. These sufferers appear to live in hotter regions and, as is the case with other depressive disorders, they are more likely to be female. It is hard to determine the true number of sufferers and significance of gender variation, as people may feel uncomfortable coming forward. Some may manage their symptoms themselves, without seeking advice.

Treatment for Summer Depression

The symptoms of summer depression may have a significantly negative impact on sufferers’ lives, making it difficult for them to function. As with the causes, there is very little evidence on how best to treat to treat summer SAD, though a few possible treatments have been highlighted by researchers.

Sufferers often attribute their symptoms to the summer heat, reporting relief from symptoms by staying indoors and keeping cool. Some find relief in air-conditioned environments and/or taking regular cold showers.

So far, summer SAD has been shown to respond to antidepressant medication, which helps to elevate mood by altering levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. These chemicals are strongly linked to mood and have shown to be effective in treating other types of depression, including winter SAD. Since it may take several weeks for antidepressants to kick in, a doctor may suggest beginning a course of medication in the late winter, before the onset of symptoms.

In non-seasonal depression and winter SAD, sticking to a healthy diet, doing regular exercise and accessing talking treatments have all been shown to be helpful, though it is unclear if these will help summer SAD sufferers.

For some self-help strategies, including information on sleep and diet, read Self-help for Summer Depression. Anyone suffering symptoms of summer SAD should seek advice from a qualified health professional.

Get Help with Summer Depression

Feeling Envious

Cause of Envy

Low self esteem, dissatisfaction with life or a poor self-image.

Effects of Feeling Envious

Longing for something someone else has, for example a big house, more money, a better body, youth or a different job. This can lead to feelings of anger, sadness, bitterness andaggression.

Possible Solutions to Feelings of Envy

Write a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life until it outweighs those that you don’t have. Include the little things too and focus on your talents and the opportunities you have. Remember that other people are probably envious of many of these.

Make positive changes in your life and chase your dreams. Do things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, like changing career path, voluntary work, learning a new skill or travelling.

Discuss your jealousy in the forum

Coping with OCD

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you feel you have no control over certain thoughts, idea or urges, which seem to force themselves into your mind, like a stuck record. These thoughts – obsessions – are often frightening or distressing, or seem so unacceptable that you can’t share them with others. Contained within the obsession is an underlying belief that you, or other people, may come to harm. However absurd or unrealistic this belief, you can’t dismiss it or reason it away. It creates unbearable anxiety, and makes you feel helpless to do anything except perform the particular ritual which can neutralise the devastating thought.

The irresistible urge to carry out such rituals is known as a ‘compulsion’. This could be something like repeatedly opening and closing a door, washing hands, repeating a litany, or counting. In other words, exaggerated elements of everyday actions and routines. You may feel compelled to do these actions over and over again, because of an unquenchable fear that you didn’t do it properly last time, or because the unwanted thoughts intrude again. The relief from the anxiety is only temporary.

OCD is similar to a phobia, which is another anxiety disorder. In both cases, fear brings on symptoms of anxiety and panic, including a racing heart, churning stomach, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating and trembling. A phobia also involves an exaggerated fear of something that doesn’t represent a realistic danger, but other people can usually relate to it, or even share it. But with OCD the fear is of your own thoughts, and other people may not be able to relate to this or understand them at all. What’s more, someone who has a phobia can avoid the thing that triggers their phobia, such as cats or spiders, but with OCD, these devastating thoughts are unavoidable, and are constantly ready to emerge.

OCD isn’t a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, whereby people feel that certain thoughts and ideas come from somewhere outside themselves (hallucinations). If you have OCD, you know that it s your own thoughts tormenting you. Some people only experience obsessive thoughts, without having any compulsions. Others have compulsions without knowing why they feel the need to do them.

The anxiety caused by experiencing obsessions and compulsions feeds back into the problem, creating a vicious circle and making the OCD worse. Often, people with OCD are also depressed, and this may also be partly or wholly due to the experiene of OCD.

Causes: OCD sometimes occurs for no reason, but it may be triggered by stressful life events. It can be caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. It also tends to run in families, suggesting that some people have a genetic predisposition to OCD.

Effect: People with OCD are tormented by unwanted thoughts and feel compelled to carry out rituals to free themselves of these thoughts. For example, you may be very worried that there are germs on your hands, and to make yourself feel better you wash them. Washing relieves your anxiety for a while, so it becomes a ritual. This creates a vicious cycle and you might wash your hands twenty or more times an hour, even when your skin is raw from scrubbing. Other OCD behaviours include counting objects, checking switches are turned off and doors are locked, or rearranging furniture so it is symmetrical. If a person cannot carry out their rituals, they feel panicky and fear that a disaster will happen.

Explore these Possible Solutions

The first step is breaking the cycle. Remind yourself that your desire to carry out a ritual is a symptom of OCD, and will not protect you from harm. When you have resisted a compulsion a few times, it will get easier

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may help

Anti-Depressants

Coping with OCD Help and Advice