Self-esteem is really important and is about how we value ourselves. Sometimes people have low self-esteem – this may be due to difficult circumstances in childhood or perhaps something more recently. ‘To esteem, someone or something is to value, respect, affirm and give worth to that object or person. To esteem oneself is the ability to properly evaluate and accurately present oneself which involves a realistic assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative qualities and true potentials and limitations.’ N. Abi-Hashem (in Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, 1999, p.1087).
Sometimes I ask clients where they get their self-esteem from – often the answers include getting affirmation from other people, their work, their families and friends. I can understand why that might be. However when family or other people are not kind, their self-esteem plummets. This can lead to anxiety and a sense of ‘stuckness.’
Self-esteem is about how we esteem ourselves. Our self esteem is initially formed in our early childhood relationships – if we have had loving parents who have encouraged us, comforted us when we are sad, given us healthy boundaries and shown us how to build good relationships then our self-esteem will probably be good. However if our childhood has involved hurt and rejection we may grow up to believe that we aren’t worth very much. This then has an impact on how we relate to other people and whether we see the world as a safe place where we can grow and develop or not. Of course we need the encouragement of other people but it is important that we value and respect ourselves. This is crucial because our sense of self will have an impact on the way that we manage difficulties and challenges.
I draw on aspects of Psychodynamic Theory and Attachment Theory to help you understand how you may have been impacted by your childhood. I give you time to reflect on this and to process any hurts that you have experienced. I then use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help you consider any unhelpful ways of thinking that have led to you believing that you are not worth loving.
I have found that when people’s self-esteem is good they are more resilient and better able to work through their difficulties.
If you would like to talk to me about how low self-esteem has discouraged you and left you ‘feeling low’ with a loss of confidence in yourself do contact me.