I Love Me! Improving Low Self Esteem with Counseling
As the late and celebrated Whitney Houston sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Out of one’s love and respect for himself arises other attitudes about love, life and friendship. If you love and like yourself, you expect others to treat you well. If you have a poor sense of self, you tend to treat yourself poorly and accept poor treatment as “something you deserve”.
Based on statistics from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), 25% of psychological disorders are inevitably founded on low self-esteem. That means those who suffer from depression, those with suicidal tendencies, trauma victims (victims of bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse and so on), teen pregnancy and eating disorders have unhealthy self-images. Possessing low self-esteem can start from childhood and continue well into adulthood.
Teens are especially vulnerable to developing low self-esteem, especially at a time when they feel the need to be accepted and to belong to a group of his peers.
Self-Esteem and its Development
Self-esteem deals with one’s view of himself, how he sees his personal value or worth, how he loves and respects himself. It is thinking, “I am who I am and I like it!” Having a healthy sense of self is an important foundation towards a strong adulthood.
A child or even an adult can develop an unhealthy sense of self as a result of:
– Being bullied
– Having overly critical, perfectionist, and harsh parents who fail to affirm him
– Being teased for one’s appearance, gender, race, behavior or social standing
– Having a disability (either mental or physical)
– Failure to receive praise and positive reinforcement for his achievements
– Being ignored as a child
Low Self-Esteem and How It Manifests
Low self-esteem is sometimes developed due to negative experiences that get in the way of the process of developing a healthy sense of self. As a result, one feels ashamed, lonely and even angry (with himself and others). One always feels doubtful and critical of his actions and there is a feeling of fear, disquiet and isolation.
Those with a low self-esteem:
– Have trouble accepting compliments
– Defensive, even with the slightest criticism
– Always second guessing one’s self
– Fear of taking on something new and challenging
– Tendency to abuse substances, food, alcohol and drugs
– Unhealthy concern about other’s opinions of him
– Being overly pessimistic and depressed
– Being clingy and needy
– Neglecting one’s health
– Being a perfectionist
– Has a constant need for praise and acceptance
– Tendency towards self-pity
– Compensating by being an overachiever and workaholic
Some disorders and negative behaviors linked to having a low self-esteem include:
– Having an eating disorder (including bulimia and anorexia)
– Major depression
– Being a victim of abuse
Low Self-Esteem and Other Issues
Seeing one’s self as inferior to others can mean a lot of things. When you don’t like yourself, you cannot and do not expect others to like you. When you view yourself as someone who is not worth being loved or liked, there is a tendency to make poor choices and to accept abuse as one’s lot in life. This can start a vicious cycle of abuse – from others, as well as from yourself.
Learning to love yourself
Stepping towards a healthy self-image will take patience, hard work and perhaps, some family counseling in Utah. This can be done by becoming aware of negative self-images and learning positive attributes about one’s self. By focusing rather on what is good and positive about you rather than on your weaknesses and failures, you can begin to love yourself the way you should.
The scars inflicted in childhood or by a particularly traumatic experience will take some doing to heal, but with the help of an experienced Utah counselor, one can emerge from the bonds of low self-esteem. Provo counseling can help an individual grow and learn to lead a happy, self-affirming life.
Awareness. Treatment for low self-esteem starts by having an awareness of one’s negative attitudes towards one’s self. Family counseling in Provo will start by challenging the negative assumptions underlying a poor self-esteem. It starts by disputing statements such as “I will never amount to anything.”, “I don’t have any abilities or qualities to be proud of.”, “I just don’t seem to have any direction for life.” By having an awareness that these are but assumptions, you can start resolving your problem with self-esteem.
Setting boundaries. Often, a person with low self-esteem is victimized by unhealthy relationships. An experienced Provo counselor can help a person identify hurtful relationships, relationships that knock down one’s self-esteem. Then, they will start discussing how one can learn to be more assertive and set boundaries to lessen the impact of these negative relationships.
Empowerment. With counseling and guidance, the counselor and counselee will start setting goals for growth and self-discovery. This may be personal or career-related goals. This may also be goals towards breaking free from vicious cycles and negative attitudes and behaviors.
Learning to love and like yourself may be a difficult journey, but with continued support, one can slowly gain confidence and assertiveness, enough for you to say, “I love me!”.