Your Self-Esteem Might Be The Problem: Here's Why
When you hear the word self-esteem, where do your thoughts go? Are you focusing on your physical image, your financial success, your possessions, your friendships, or something else? Self-esteem is defined as a confidence in the self (a type of worthiness). Your ability to accept yourself without judgement or criticism. This type of unconditional acceptance and regard is often clouded by an internal voice that constantly nags or criticizes. This inner voice is a built-in security system that usually does its job well; however, at times it can be way too overprotective which can lead to unhealthy thinking patterns.
>>Want to learn more about self-esteem and how you can improve your thoughts and strengthen your acceptance? I recommend Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay, PhD, and Patrick Fanning.<<
When our inner voice is overly critical, you might find that your thoughts and behaviors are unhealthy. The symptoms you experience can mimic other diagnoses; symptoms such as the inability to focus, panic attacks, or thoughts of self-harm. While other mental disorders are completely possible, you shouldn't rule out unhealthy self-esteem.
Perhaps you already suspected self-esteem struggles and you are reading now for solutions. I appreciate your efforts to take control of your mental and emotional well-being. Here's where I throw out a disclaimer: This blog is not intended to replace the guidance of an educated and trained mental health practitioner. If you are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide or homicide, please call 911 to be connected with the community supports that can assist you.
SELF-ESTEEM: WHAT IS IT AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
The simplest answer is that self-esteem comes from you. Self-esteem can be grown or fostered within yourself. While it might seem easy to blame others for blows to your self-esteem, ultimately it is you who controls the damage.
Take, for instance, an interaction between friends where your friend compliments you on your fashion sense: "You look fabulous today". This is a boost for the self-esteem not because your friend said anything but because it reinforced your internal dialogue that you already had in your mind: "I look good today".
The same goes for negative impacts to the self-esteem. Consider the same scenario; however, your inner voice that day kept saying: "You look hideous today, you are a mess, you're an embarrassment". When your friend doesn't compliment you on your fashion sense you reinforce that it's because your inner voice, criticizing you, is correct. If your friend had politely asked about your disheveled appearance you might feel angry, hurt, or down because it reinforces that critical thought you already had in your mind.
Someone with good self-esteem will have the inner dialogue that might say: "I'm a mess, but that's okay, I feel confident in my own appearance." Then in response to negative or judgmental comments by anyone, even a friend, will be met with the same confidence: "You're right, I do look a little disheveled today." No hurt. No pain. No sadness.
Your self-esteem is contingent upon your internal dialogue with and about yourself. Outside influences can impact and reinforce our own mindset and thoughts. Having a strong self-esteem can help you control those negative impacts.
BUILDING HEALTHY SELF-ESTEEM
Right now, you might be thinking that this really does sound like something I need help with. To some degree, everyone can build stronger and healthier thoughts to boost their self-esteem. If you are on a journey for improvement, start with knowledge. Build your understanding of self-esteem, how it works, why it is important, and so forth. This blog is a great place to start since the information is provided in small, easy to understand pieces. Please consider subscribing.
While you are doing your research and growing your knowledge, reach out to a professional for additional support and guidance, especially if you feel your self-esteem is impacting your ability to live a happy and healthy life.
As an additional resource, I will be ending each blog with a list/catalog of resources that you might find useful.
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