We all go through times when we might feel lacking confidence or don’t necessarily feel good about ourselves. However, when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a detrimental effect on our mental health and a negative impact on life in general.
What is Low Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is generally defined as the opinion we have of ourselves. When we have healthy or positive self-esteem, we usually feel positive about ourselves and our life in general. It makes us feel more able to deal with ups and downs of life. Conversely, when we experience low self-esteem is low, we often see ourselves and our life in a more negative or critical light. We often also feel less able to cope with the challenges or difficulties that life throws at us.
How Can Low Self-Esteem Affect Us?
When we start to go into the negative cycle of thinking that we’re no good, not good enough or simply not worthy, we often start to behave or act in ways which confirm that it’s true. We might avoid certain situations or social engagements, we might stop trying new things or avoid situations or events that we find challenging. We might overcompensate for our lack of self-esteem by trying to be unnecessarily assertive or bossy which can affect both our work and private or family relationships or we might engage in surrendering type behaviours such as choosing relationships which are not functional because they are perhaps not equal, or even abusive where we feel we are not worthy of the other person, or where we find ourselves constantly giving in, unable to assert our own needs and desires. These coping strategies are not mutually exclusive and, in the short term, these techniques might serve to make us feel safe, empowered, or simply trying to find a way to shout for help. However, in the longer term such coping strategies can lead to reinforcing the self doubt and fear that underlies the problem, teaching us that the only way to cope is to avoid things.
Living with low self-esteem in the long term can harm your mental health, leading to other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and stress. It can also lead to the development of other unhelpful habits such as smoking, drinking or drug use as a way of coping.
How Do We Develop Low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem often begins in early on, in childhood. Parents or guardians, siblings, teachers, friends, and even the media can give us a variety of messages, both positive and negative. Generally speaking, for some reason, the message that you are not good enough, or not worthy is the one that sticks. It becomes engrained as a core belief. Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to someone’s expectations of you, or even those you set for yourself. Also, stressful or difficult life events, a bereavement, a serious illness or trauma can also have a negative impact on self esteem, as can personality (for example if some of us are prone to negative self-thinking whilst others of us are perfectionists and set impossibly high standards for ourselves). Whatever the reason, it is possible to make some positive changes that can dramatically improve your self-esteem.
In order to boost your self esteem, it is important to first identify and the challenge the negative beliefs you have about yourself. Learning to recognise and identify the specific thoughts themselves, how you learned them and why you continue to believe them is key to breaking the negative pattern. Once this is achieved you can start to gather evidence that challenges and proves them to be untrue. Looking at the positive things that you know you are capable of or good at is also important. We can all successfully grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age.
How I Treat Low Self-Esteem
I use a tailor-made approach to target the specific cause of your low self-esteem. Perhaps it’s something someone said to you growing up, not feeling as valued as a brother or sister, a message you’ve repeatedly seen in the media. Perhaps your beliefs were formed during a stressful or traumatic life event or illness or perhaps you simply don’t feel good about yourself or you don’t feel capable in your day to day work life. We’ll look at the opinion you currently have of yourself and look at the way in which it is impacting your life by identifying the strategies you currently use to cope with your feelings of low self esteem.
During our sessions, I will teach you how to identify these thoughts and to challenge these negative self beliefs. Where appropriate we’ll use assertiveness techniques and positive, forward planning confidence visualisations done in hypnosis. I will provide you with the right tools to help you cope more positive with day to day situations, all aimed at helping you develop a positive self-regard and improved self-esteem. I will help you to establish a working model of useful techniques to use to fundamentally, positively and permanently change the way you think and feel about yourself as well as how you behave and act in everyday situations when you’re outside of the therapy room. My aim is to equip you with the skills and techniques to improve your thoughts and feelings associated with how you feel about yourself, as well as how to better manage day to day stresses both during your on-going treatment and perhaps more importantly in the more longer term after you leave treatment. By combining all of these techniques (and probably more) and adding in the element of hypnosis, you will receive an effective, pragmatic and relevant approach to greatly improve your self-esteem and move forward positively in your life.
Contact me today to arrange a free 20 minute chat or book an initial consultation.