Self esteem is how we perceive our self, the way we value our self, the worth we put on our self as a person. Although this has nothing to do with how other people perceive us, it is about how we perceive other people to perceive us.
If we suffer from low self esteem we will feel very lowly about ourselves thus filling us with self doubt. We can end up doubting everything about us, including our appearance, intelligence, capability, how much people like us and the worth of what we have to say. We can feel very lonely and different from other people.
Low self esteem can be caused by many different things. It could be bullying or constantly being put down. Someone, very often a family member, telling the person that they are not doing well enough, that they are useless or worthless or a combination of all of those things.
Whatever the cause is, it makes little, if any, difference to how the person feels. The overwhelming feelings of being a lesser person, inadequate, useless or worthless, and above all – different!
This can happen at any age. Sometimes it can be in the very early, formative years of a child possibly living in the shadow of an older sibling, but could just as easily be at a much later time of life caused through a controlling relationship
These feelings can have a devastating effect on the person’s life, restricting them and stopping them from going to certain places. They may avoid some activities or associating with some people for very often the unnecessary fear of being ridiculed. This can stop them from making relationships or pursuing a particular career.
Abusing somebody, be it by bullying, controlling, putting them down by telling them how useless they are, or in any other way, will understandably give that person doubts about themselves. They will think why do people treat me like that? What is it about me that make others treat me like that? There must be something wrong with me. It is these negative thoughts that are the seeds of low self esteem.
When someone has those self doubts and negative thoughts it effects how they act. They avoid situations where they might feel uncomfortable. They act in a negative way and therefore, get a negative response from others making them feel even more negative. This starts a downward cycle of feeling negative, acting negative, getting a negative response, then feeling even more negative.
How other people perceive the sufferer is of enormous importance to them. Unfortunately, what they imagine others are thinking about them will invariably be negative.
So how can we overcome low self esteem? The first thing we should remember is that it will have probably taken a long time for our self esteem to have sunk so low. Going down that spiral of negative feeling, negative actions, getting negative response, making you feel more negative. So what we need to do is become more positive in the way we feel. As negative feelings grow so do positive feelings. To many of us the thought of changing from feeling and acting negative to positive is a massive step and so it is, but the good news is all we need to do is feel a little bit more positive and then allow that feeling to grow.
The thought of changing negative thoughts to positive ones for anyone suffering from low esteem can be very daunting, but all we need to do is start the process.
I have found with my clients if they can accept the fact that they are not as important to others as they feel they are, it can very often help them to start those positive feelings. It is a fact that the only people we are important to are those who love or care for us. It is ironic that it is these people that we all feel confident and comfortable with. To all others it is unimportant what we look like, what we wear, what we say or how we act, as they are unimportant to us. If we are walking along the street and we see someone fall over or walk into a lamp post we may feel sorry for them or have a little smile, but a few steps further we have seen something in a shop window and that person has gone from our thoughts forever because there are too many other things to think about, and that is how every one reacts.
If we accept what we are like is not that important to other people we need no longer worry about what they think about us, a very positive thought. It is only a start, but very often that first small, positive thought is all that is needed to allow the growing process to begin.
Add a relaxation therapy like hypnotherapy or aromatherapy to help the sufferer become more relaxed and calm, then those feelings can start to change and that negative, downward cycle can turn into an upward, positive one.