I'm 25 years old. After going into therapy last year because of a failed (and very turbulent) relationship, I realized that a lot of my self-esteem issues (whether they are related to self-image, relationships, or job performance) stem from childhood verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
Objectively, I would even say that the verbal and emotional abuses were more prevalent. I remember my father screaming at me and getting furious for the littlest of reasons. I dropped a plate and broke it. Or why I didn't get better grades on tests (I was so scared to show him my tests, that I eventually started to falsify his signature). Or when I messed up playing the piano, he would sit next to me and yell at me to play the piece repeatedly until I got it right.
My mom, on the other hand, wasn't as violent or as critical of me, but I can't remember her ever defending or protecting me when my father got into one of his 'moods.' To his credit, he's mellowed out since then.
Ever since going to therapy (I've stopped going for half a year now), my perception of myself has gotten a little better. I check myself sometimes, when I'm overly criticizing myself, or blaming myself all the time when things don't turn out the way I wanted. But it's hard. My first inclination is still, always, to turn blame inwards first. I analyze my every behavior or action that could have possibly led to the perceived "failure". Only afterwards, and sometimes through talking with friends, do I actually consider the possibility that it may be due to things I can't control/or that it may be the other person's fault.
I'm exhausted emotionally and it's sometimes a downhill battle fighting with this very critical and unforgiving part of myself. It's been especially difficult lately since my 16 year-old sister tried to commit suicide two months ago. Logically I don't believe I am to blame for her depression, but that doesn't mean I believe the logical answer all the time. Afterwards, I started questioning if I was a good sister, a good daughter and a good person. Now I feel guilty if I don't consider going home once a week to visit my sister and my parents (I don't live too far away, about 45 minutes commute); or if my sister is in a 'down' mood, I'll become extremely worried and upset. I've started to second-guess most of my opinions, my instincts, and my choices. As for meeting people or dating, I no longer feel attractive. Even if someone shows interest (to varying degrees), I'm never convinced that they're really attracted to or interested in me.
I guess this has been a 'problem' I've had ever since I was young. But today I turn 25, and I've had enough of the self-doubt, the guilt, the shame and the lack of self-worth. How do I help myself? Should I go back into therapy again? Please help. Thanks so much.
Elizabeth (25 year-old woman) from New York
Having low self-esteem is something everyone faces at some point in their lives. Low self-esteem prevents us from being who we want to be or becoming what we want to become. There are many things that can contribute to having low self-esteem. We must determine what makes us have a poor self-perception of ourselves in order to improve our self-esteem.
After all self-esteem is how we feel or think about ourselves. If we can learn to strengthen the best qualities we have in ourselves, negative qualities will diminish and the positive qualities will grow. When we feel good about ourselves, being mad or angry, jealous, worried, depressed, or frightened becomes very difficult.
We are responsible for our own feelings and emotions. Sometimes the best way to build up your own self-esteem is to help others. This not only will help them but also help you to feel better about yourself.
Getting to know yourself better will help you to improve your self-esteem. Ask friends how they see you. What qualities do they see that maybe you don't. When we think of ourselves as having low self-esteem, others think of us as having high self-esteem.
Learn to laugh at yourself because no one is perfect not even you. Don't let your weaknesses become roadblocks in your life. Instead let them become strengths so that you can help others overcome the same challenges.
Love yourself because no one else can love you better than you. How well you can love yourself will determine how well you can love others. Learn to appreciate who you are and where you've come from. Give yourself the respect you deserve. There is no one else in the world like you, that alone should make you feel special.
Change the way you have always done things. Sometimes we can get in a rut and our lives become boring and dull. Change can be a positive.
Learn a new skill or craft. Learning new things can give us self-confidence and increase self esteem. Life is full of adventure, so what are you waiting for.
When given a compliment or praise learn to accept it gracefully and move on. Don't stop to explain what should have happened or what you meant to do instead. Simply say thank you with a smile or handshake and move on.
Take value in yourself because you are worth it. Stop thinking that you aren't worthy because you are. Believe in yourself your talents and abilities so that your life will be productive and profitable. You are worthy of greatness so take value in yourself.
Take a look in the mirror and see who you want to be not who someone else wants you to be. Live your life for you not for someone else. Whatever negative thoughts you have about yourself will dominate your life. So if you want to be a person who is positive you must think positive. If you want to be successful you must think success. If you don't want low self-esteem you must pick it up.
If you feel that therapy has helped you to improve your thinking about yourself and others close to you, by all means you must use whatever methods work. Everyone deserves the best for themselves. Don't ever second guess what you feel in your heart to be right for you. It is a gift from God to have a heart that can be touched and felt with emotion to make decisions that are right.
Women Improving Self Harmony...one woman at a time.