Low self-esteem generally occurs for two reasons. It is a result of how you were raised and validated as a child. The second greatest contributor to low self-esteem is the significant events that have occurred as you were growing up in childhood or adulthood.
The good news is that if you suffer from low self-esteem, you as an adult can correct the wrongs that happened to you in your past. It takes work, discipline, and a positive belief that you are worth it to increase self-esteem.
The number one statement that people make when they feel low self-esteem is," I am not good enough.” Did you experience a lot of negative messages as a child? This may have left you feeling disempowered and “less than.” Perhaps your parents were discouraging or told you could not accomplish things in your life, just as insidious…they may not have been available to you. Perhaps your parents were not around to validate you or identify your strengths. This typically happens when a parent is an alcoholic, a workaholic, or negative. It can be difficult as a child to combat that reality with positive self-esteem.
As an adult, this requires that you identify what your strengths are and remind yourself of your own potential. In layman's terms this may look like the following:
1) Reminding yourself daily of your own internal strengths. This means looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you are confident, capable, kindhearted, smart, intuitive, and loving.
2) You may need to practice making statements to yourself that an ideal parent would have told you as you were growing up.
This may sound like the following:
- I know you don't feel like you can ask for the promotion, but truly you are ready for this assignment and would do an excellent job performing your new work duties.
- Or, I know you're afraid to date since your nasty divorce, but you have so much to offer another person and need to practice having fun with the opposite sex.
Talking to yourself like the ideal parent would remind you to be kinder and gentler to yourself and to take risks that you deserve to experience.
Many woman experience losses that take a hit on their self-esteem such as a divorce, the inability to go to college, their own divorce, or the loss of their child. In these types of situations, it is important to be your own best cheerleader. This might look like the following:
- You are on your way home from work and you get a speeding ticket. Instead of telling yourself you're stupid, unobservant and a screw-up… You tell yourself that this was a good life lesson to remember to slow down and that perhaps this saved you from an accident if you had continued to speed.
- Your husband asks you for a divorce. You feel rejected, sad, and worthless as a wife. This circumstance would require that you look at how you can grow from the situation and how you might be better off. You might tell yourself that this will give you a chance to know yourself, spend more time with the kids, and explore what you really want in life.
It may sound unrealistic but it works if you work it. The important thing is to practice the skills dutifully so that they become part of your coping mechanisms and encourage you to feel good about yourself no matter what the circumstance. Be your own cheerleader…your self-esteem will thank you!
Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. SHe does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services, contact her at www.carolthecoach.com or call her at 317-218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR's Channel 13 Wednesdays at 12:50PM.