Have you wondered about what self-esteem is and how to get more of it? Do you think your self-esteem is low? Do you know how to tell? Do you know what to do about it?
We use the term self-esteem to talk about the beliefs you have about yourself – what you think about the type of person you are, your abilities, the positive and negative things about you and what you expect for your future. Self-esteem answers the question, “How do I feel about who I am?” We learn self-esteem in our family of origin; we do not inherit it. The beliefs you have about yourself often appear to be statements of fact, although actually they’re really only opinions. They are based on the experiences you’ve had in life, and the messages that these experiences have given you about the kind of person you are. If your experiences have been negative, your beliefs about yourself are likely to be negative too.
Crucial experiences that help to form our beliefs about ourselves often (although not always) occur early in life. What you saw, heard and experienced in childhood – in your family, in the wider community and at school – will have influenced the way you see yourself.
If you have healthy self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will generally be positive. You may experience difficult times in your life, but you will generally be able to deal with these without them having too much of a long-term negative impact on you.
If you have low self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will often be negative. Low self-esteem is a negative evaluation of oneself. You will tend to focus on your weaknesses or mistakes that you have made, and may find it hard to recognise the positive parts of your personality. You may also blame yourself for any difficulties or failures that you have.
Our level of self-esteem usually dictates how we live our life and the decisions we make. Healthy self-esteem allows people to be realistic about goals, accept criticism, learn from mistakes and be adventurous but not reckless. Low self-esteem makes people fearful and unrealistic about goals and risks, which further dents their self-image. They also compare themselves unfavourably with others and have little natural ability to protect themselves.
Signs of low self esteem include:
- feeling hopeless or depressed
- feeling bored with life
- having no motivation
- thinking there’s nothing to look forward to
- thinking negatively about yourself
- feeling tired a lot of the time
- feeling like a failure
- wishing your life was better
In order to increase your self-esteem, you need to challenge and change the negative beliefs you have about yourself. Taking care of your physical health, reducing stress levels and exercising can all help towards building self-esteem. Sometimes keeping a diary to explore negative memories may help you to relate to how these are causing you distress now. Dance, music, creative writing and painting are also thought to increase our self-esteem, helping us to find a sense of empowerment.
Counselling and Hypnotherapy are useful therapies for those suffering from low self-esteem in many ways. Simply by making the decision to look into therapy, you have shown that you value yourself enough to want to make improvements for yourself. Hypnotherapy seeks to discover the root cause of low self-esteem and use the power of suggestion to create more positive thought patterns. Reprogramming your beliefs can lead to an increase in self-esteem and help you to overcome negative thinking patterns. Counselling may involve looking at early experiences and how this has formed your way of relating to yourself and to others and will help you identify limiting and negative thoughts, supporting you as you identify, address and change your view of yourself.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Winterton Dip.Hyp, MHS, GQHP,GHR reg., NRH, Dip.CP,MCS Acc, Dip.SMC
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist, Aspired Therapies