Having a positive self-esteem and self-image is the secret to being able to say: I know who I am and I am okay with myself!
Signs of Low Self-Esteem
If you have low self-esteem it means that you have negative ideas about your worth and value as a person. There are various signs of low self-esteem, including:
- Being highly critical of yourself;
- Comparing yourself to others;
- Shying away from or not accepting compliments;
- Criticising yourself;
- Putting others down to feel better about yourself;
- Focusing on negatives and not acknowledging your accomplishments or positives in your life;
- Talking, or thinking negatively about yourself.
Improving your Self-Esteem
The first step to improving your self-esteem is to figure out why it’s low in the first place. There are a number of possible causes; it is different for everyone. Causes include, but are not limited to:
- Poor academic performance;
- Neglect or abuse;
- Critical parenting or peers;
- Role modeling;
- Feeling different or like you’re the odd one out;
- Being unemployed or lacking direction; or
- Something else going on for you psychologically or physically.
It can be difficult to think about or identify the causes of low self-esteem. Or, maybe you never really think about it, but wonder “Who am I?!” or even “I don’t really like who I am”.
A psychologist can work with you to help you figure out exactly what is at the root of your self-esteem / self-image issues, and design an intervention plan with steps you can take to build your confidence and bring your self-esteem up to where it belongs.
One of these strategies might be helping you to identify and challenge any destructive self-talk and self-views. Positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But combating negative patterns of thinking is only half of the battle. Self-talk and self-awareness (the way you talk to yourself and your awareness of what you’re thinking and doing and why) is the key to learning how to be more positive. It takes practice, but it’s well worth the effort.
What are your Strengths?
Starting to identify and build on your strengths is a great way to boost your mood and self-esteem. It’s also really handy when it comes to things like job interviews or other really awkward situations where you have to talk about how great you are!
Some people are naturally aware of what the best parts of their personality are, as well as the worst parts. For others, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what their good qualities are. Generally speaking, it’s more common for people to be aware of their weaknesses and flaws than their strengths.
Whatever your situation, maximising how you use your strengths will help you make the most of the best aspects of your character, which builds your self-esteem and happiness.
In counselling, you can also learn coping skills, such as thought challenging, experiencing feelings (good or bad) and especially distress tolerance, all of which can help build self-esteem and self-image. When we do not respect our feelings, we are left to rely on what others want and believe.
It is also important to learn who you are. Many people find it very difficult to describe themselves, outside of a role or function such as a job etc. Or, they see themselves like another person (such as a parent, peer etc) and resent this about themselves. You are not your mother or father, you are yourself!
It is very important to explore what you do well, how you describe yourself now versus how you would like to feel or describe yourself, and how others would describe you. In counselling, your therapist will help you get to know yourself and balance it with how others see you.
What is Self-Image?
Self-image is how you perceive yourself. It is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time:
- What are your hopes and dreams?
- What do you think and feel?
- What have you done throughout your life and what did you want to do?
These self-images can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.
Surprisingly, your self-image can be very different from how the world sees you. Some people who outwardly seem to have it all (intelligence, looks, personal and financial success) may have a bad self-image. Conversely, others who have had a very difficult life and multiple hardships may also have a very positive self-image.
It cannot be denied that your self-image has a very strong impact on your happiness, and your outlook on life can affect those around you. If you project a positive self-image, people will be more likely to see you as a positive, capable person.
However, it’s important that your self-image be both positive and realistic. Having an occasional negative thought or criticism about yourself can encourage change, hard work, and growth. In therapy, we will work to find your unique self-image, and a balance with realistic self-goals.
Dealing with self-esteem and self-image is not easy but very rewarding, and I would love to help and support you in a professional yet relaxed atmosphere.
Author: Trudy Sheffield, B Beh Sc (1st Class Hons).
Trudy Sheffield is a passionate and motivated psychologist, who works to develop people to find solutions to life disturbances and live to their potential. Trudy is experienced in counselling, clinical and forensic psychology.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Trudy Sheffield, freecall 1800 877 924 or book online today!