Self-esteem determines the value we put on ourselves: our talents, abilities, and personal existence. In other words, it is an opinion about oneself of being worthy or unworthy of something in life. Self-esteem affects how we think and feel about our everyday life experiences.
Low Self Esteem vs High Self Esteem
A person with low self-esteem perceives things with a negative mindset. Whereas a very high self-esteemed person inflates reality and exhibits narcissistic tendencies. In the middle is a healthy self-esteemed person who is confident about one’s intelligence, appearance, abilities, and personality. He or she accepts strengths and limitations with a realistic assessment and is satisfied with the kind of importance given to his or her virtues and talents by people around them or society.
People with healthy self-esteem respect themselves and others for what they are. They put effort to learn from past mistakes instead of getting identified with them. The use of reasoning to overcome hardships, and rebounding in life comes naturally to them. They have the confidence and self-belief to pursue their goals.
So, having healthy self-esteem is essential to be successful in every facet of life including relationships, marriage, parenting, and career.
Here’s some of the key signs of low self-esteem:
• Risk aversion
• Difficulty accepting negative feedback
• Greater focus on flaws / weaknesses
• Dismissal of skills and strength
• Inferiority complex
• Feeling disliked and unwanted
• Seeking approval from others
• Fear of rejection
• Display of self-destructive behavior
• Constant comparison with others
• Getting tied in bad relationships
• Fear of intimacy
• Delusional self-image
• Jealousy of others
These signs are common human behaviors and show up in a person from time to time. But, if a bunch of these are prevalent in a person, it probably might be flaring up from low self-esteem.
What causes low self-esteem?
Although the causes for low self-esteem might differ from person to person, studies show that it normally stems from childhood experiences of being criticized by loved ones, teachers, or any other authority figures.
Being bullied also leaves a lasting negative effect on self-esteem. If it is not from childhood, then a stressful event occurred at any point in life can suddenly create low self-esteem.
Here are some life events that might have been stressful enough to trigger low self-esteem in a person:
• Going through discrimination
• Relationship problems
• Sudden loss of money, house, or other essential belonging
• Hostile interaction with a coworker at the workplace
• Loss of job
How counseling helps you to overcome low self-esteem.
When one is looking for a steady balance in mind than being on a roller coaster of highs and lows of self-esteem, counseling indeed helps. As a counselor takes a personalized approach and is willing to hear all your difficulties dealing with low self-esteem, it opens up doors for solving the problem. If you had felt alone and left out, counseling will dissolve those emotions.
Counseling mainly helps you to:
• Identify and understand the reason why you’re suffering from low esteem
• Let out past negative experiences in a safe space
• Recognize your true inner voice of reason
• Recognize adverse thinking patterns
Should I seek counseling for low self-esteem?
Often we disregard low self-esteem as a personality trait than a psychological condition. It is needed to seek treatment to cope and eventually get rid of the low esteem problem in you. If neglected, it could badly affect your interpersonal relationships, work, school responsibilities, social interaction, and setting boundaries with others.
How a counselor can help you heal self-esteem problems.
Building a positive psychological climate.
When you attend the first counseling session, the counselor will work on making you feel comfortable and develop a connection with you. This establishes trust and a sense of mutual purpose to solve the problem. Also, it forms a basis for progressing through further stages without roadblocks. With a positive psychological climate created in the early stage, the likelihood of attaining a desirable outcome is greater.
In this step, the counselor explores the roots of your feeling of inadequacy, low self-confidence, and self-belief. The source of your nagging internal voice that has been draining your internal energy is identified and revealed to you. Call it an a-ha moment or self-realization, with the problem source in front, it becomes a lot easier to address the issue. After identification, the counselor gets an idea about what treatment plan could suit you, what goals to be set and achieved, how to assess you and provide options and alternatives as things progress. The problem exploration process goes through different stages by itself.
Broadly you can share:
• How self-esteem is affecting your daily life.
• Behaviors and thought patterns that bug you.
• How long the problem has existed.
• When does it appear and is it predictable based on situations?
• Activities you perform every day or how your typical day progresses.
• Family history.
• Personal history.
Every counselor has their list of questions that they might ask to diagnose your problem. So it is likely that you will be asked a lot more things than the ones pointed above.
Setting of goals and seeking a commitment to action.
It is often observed that people with psychological problems do not have a way to get out of it. As the counselor sets goals after examining the problem, you will have a path in front of you to relief. This creates motivation in you to work towards achieving those goals. The goals set by counselors are specially catered to suit your everyday life, personal knowledge, and skills. They are measurable in terms of progress. So it becomes easier for you to know how you are doing and have a better understanding of what needs to be accomplished.
The counselor will define the goals in simple terms while explaining its benefits and limitations. This builds confidence and hope in you to make an effort at dealing with your low self-esteem problem. Apart from setting goals and explaining them to you, the counselor will break them down into manageable parts and give you strategies to follow and achieve them. As you accomplish the set goals, it increases your mental capacity to appreciate yourself and face criticism without getting bogged down.
Shedding years of self-doubt takes effort and time.
You can overcome low self-esteem problems and reach new heights in life when you decide to take action for yourself and your quality of life.
Robin Newman, social worker & owner of the Huntington Relationship Center in Long Island, NY.