Posts Tagged ‘self-love’

6 Steps to Enhancing Your Self-Esteem

self esteem - happy1

There are many things in life that we have to accept because we can do nothing about them.  The one thing we can change is how we relate to ourselves.

As said in previous posts (Understanding Self-Estseem and How it Develops, How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self and Self-Esteem – a by-product of how you treat yourself) we first have to realize we have developed a style over time.  We need to become aware of what our style is.  We may even develop different styles with different people and in different situations.  The styles may be healthy or unhealthy.  If a style is positive, such as, respecting oneself, it does not need changing (other than to enhance what is already done).  This can last a lifetime.

The styles that need changing are the ones which are unhealthy, such as not respecting, disparaging,  negating, hurting or judging oneself harshly.  Many people have harsh inner critics, treating themselves in ways they would never treat another human being.

STEPS TO CHANGE:

1: Become aware of your own personal styles.

2: Build a solid foundation.  Identify the positive interactions within yourself and choose to do them more often.

Scenario: Wenda likes to try new things even though she gets anxious. The risks she takes are reasonable and safe.  She encourages herself to keep taking risks by saying to herself.  ” I can do this.”  Afterwards she gives herself credit.  When it turns out well she says to herself, “Good for me.  I did it.”   If it goes badly, she says to herself, “OK, that did not go well, but I learned from it. At least I tried it.”

3: Change what needs changing.  Identify the negative interactions and target them for change.

Scenario: Wenda would not allow herself to accept compliments.  She would dismiss, ignore or deny them.
She decided she wanted to receive compliments.  She knew if she could take them in, she would feel better about herself.

4: Figure out new behaviours to replace the old ones.

This takes planning and experimentation. You cannot operate in a void.  You need to replace the old way with a new way.

Scenario: Wenda decided on 4 new ways she would respond when someone complemented her:

  • Thank you.
  • I’m glad you think so.
  • It’s good to hear that.
  • I appreciate your saying that.

5: The Choice Point.

This is the point at which you are aware you are (or are about to) treat yourself badly, and you mindfully decide to continue to do it, or you decide to do something different.

Scenario: Wenda’s friend complimented her on her hair.  Wenda, without thinking, replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah, right.”  Suddenly, Wenda realized she had just done her old thing.  She looked at her friend and said, “I mean, thank you.”

6:  Practice, practice, practice.

Experimenting means that sometimes what you try will go badly.  Expect those times to happen.  Do your best to laugh them off, dismiss them, and learn from them.  Encourage and support yourself to try again.  Gradually, you’ll replace a bad habit with a good habit, an unhealthy habit with a healthy habit.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Self-Esteem is a by-product of how you treat yourself.

self esteem girl

Everyone has a relationship with him or her self.  It is the quality of that relationship that determines the level of one’s self-esteem.

If you listen to people when they talk, you can detect whether they value themselves or not:

  • I’m mad at myself for forgetting to ……..
  • I’m pleased with myself.  I figured out how to do it on my own.
  • I’m such a coward.  I can’t face………
  • What do I know, I’m just a silly old woman.
  • I feel really good about myself for sticking to my exercise program.
  • I’m such a loser!
  • I feel more confident now that I have completed my course.
  • I can be really hard on myself.
  • I have a difficult time accepting positive feedback.

Self-esteem can also be observed in body language:

  • Sue wraps her arms around herself when she’s scared.
  • Jack slaps the top of his head when he’s annoyed with himself.
  • Jaime soothes herself by stroking her hair.
  • Andrew twists the hair on the top of his head when he is nervous.
  • Sam calms himself by stroking his beard.

We are so close to ourselves it is hard to have clear perspective on ourselves. It is easier to see how others treat themselves than it is to be aware of how we treat ourselves.  Our relationship happens in our heads with words and images and in our bodies with sensations. Hold the palm of your hand an inch from your nose.  You can see your hand, but it is a blur. Gradually pull your hand away until your hand comes into focus. Now you can see your hand in clear detail.

This is what happens with your relationship with yourself. To be aware of the quality of your relationship with yourself, it helps to gain some perspective.  You may know that you are hard on yourself or that you feel guilty a lot of the time, but you may not realize how you make that happen inside your head.

AWARENESS IS THE KEY TO CHANGE

To increase your awareness of how you treat yourself start by noticing:

  • What you say about yourself (your choice of words and the metaphors you use).
  • How you say it (the tone of voice, body language).
  • What  images you see.

That’s it for now,   Just notice.

Next post:  What to do next.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self.

hand on head

 

Children need their parents’ love, attention, acceptance, and guidance as a plant needs water.  If they do not get it growing up, as adult they may spend their whole lives trying to get it from their parents.  They may also try to get it from bosses, friends, teachers, coaches,and neighbours as well.

Children tend to treat themselves how they are treated by their parents.  If both parents treated them well, children are likely to internalized this style, and treat themselves well.  This is also true if their parents treated them badly; they are likely to internalize that style and treat themselves badly.  Children’s self-esteem is also affected by how their parents treat each other.

It’s not that simple though.  Families are complicated.  There are so many factors influencing children’s self-esteem as they grow:  birth order, extended family, religious affiliations, talents, energy level, school and others.  Sometimes parents and grandparents (even other family members and teachers) prefer one gender to another.  Perhaps one parent prefers boys and the other prefers girls.  How people treat each gender impacts the children’s self-esteem positively or negatively.  Witnessing one’s siblings being favored or unflavored also influences his or her own self-esteem.

My father was the eldest of 10.  I don’t know why, but he did not like boys.  Growing up I was unaware of this, so I did not notice how he treated my brothers.  Perhaps it was because my father had 7 brothers and 2 sisters.  I was lucky.  I was born a girl in this family.  I felt adored by my father and I enjoyed his attention.  I liked being a girl.

It is common knowledge that parents, who treat their children badly, harm their children’s self-esteem.  It is also possible to harm a child’s self-esteem by excessive and undeserved praise.

Scenario

From the time Cercy was born, she was praised excessively by both parents, but mostly her mother.  Her self-esteem was extremely high.  She thought she was marvellous in every way.  When she went to school, she got a reality check.  She was not nearly as competent and capable as she had been led to believe.  It shook her confidence to the core.  She began to doubt herself.  She would dismiss praise or any positive feedback she received.

At the core of self-esteem is one’s relationship to one’s self.  What a child experiences in their family of origin, extended family, the neighbourhood, school, and other childhood experiences, heavily influences how a child treats himself.

This pattern, established in childhood, goes into the subconscious and operates out of awareness.  When the relationship with self is positive, no problem is created so it may work well for a lifetime.  If it’s not, it needs to be revised.  But how?

Next post will discuss how.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I Please have Another Helping of Self-Esteem? Understanding Self-Estseem and How it Develops

self-esteem mirroe

 

People tend to think of self-esteem almost as if it is a product you can buy. Perhaps it is because of all the advertising which shows people smiling and feeling good when they use the products. Or, they think of it as a condition, like needing more iron in their diet or getting more rest.

Self-esteem is the result or outcome of one’s relationship with one’s self.  It is a by-product of how a person treats him or herself.

 

How do people develop a relationship with self?

Children are not born having a relationship with self.  It starts with their relationship with others.  Parents do things to them and with them.  Babies and toddlers respond and react to the ways in which they are handled and cared for.  Over time they develop a relationship with self from how they are treated by others. The quality of those interactions is a major factor in determining the quality of relationship a child develops with himself.

Children are not born loving themselves.  They learn they are loveable (or not) by the experiences of being loved by those that look after them.  At first, love comes externally. If they feel loveable, over time children internalize the love they experience and in this way they learn to love themselves.

 How do children determine whether they are loved and valued or not?

Scenario:

Billy knew he was loved.  As a baby, his mother’s eyes lit-up when she saw him.  She talked to him a lot.  She was always affectionate with him and took very good care of him.

His father smiled at him frequently.  He spent time with him: playing roughhousing, sports and games.  He taught him many things about the world and the way it worked.  If Billy had any questions or problems, he knew he could always go to either parent. They stood up for him whenever they thought he needed support and gave him constant guidance. His parents did not have much money, yet they created a safe fun environment.

Billy felt loved, valued, understood, protected, and accepted.  He felt cherished, just because he existed. He felt he belonged in his family. He felt good about himself, confident in himself and his abilities.  To him, the world was an amazing place.

Scenario 2

Sammy was not sure if he was loved or not.  He had a sad mother. She took care of him, but she rarely smiled at him. She often did not look at him directly as she cared for him.  She was impatient, yelling a lot. She was seldom affectionate, and she seemed to resent the time she spent with him.  She read a lot.  Sometimes she was okay, even telling him she loved him. But Sammy did not feel loved.

Dad was away half the time, and when he was home he was tired and distracted.  He did not have time or energy for Sammy.  When he heard his parents arguing, it was always about him.  He felt like it was his fault, that he was bad, but he wasn’t sure how. The family had money, and it seemed to Sammy that money is what mattered, not him.

Sammy did not feel loved or valued. He felt he was a burden on his mother and father.  He tried to be as good as he could to please his parents, but it rarely worked.  He didn’t really feel he belonged to this family, more like he was visiting and it would soon end.  He did not feel good about himself.   He was unsure of how to be and how to act.  The world was a scary place that he had to figure out on his own.

Each child comes to conclusions about themselves from their experiences of interactions with parents and others in their childhood. These conclusions may be accurate or inaccurate. Children do not even realize they come to conclusions; they are just living their lives. Some adults report specific memories of decisions they deliberately made as a young child. But most of the time, these conclusions are made without realizing it, get buried in the subconscious and operate out of awareness.

When a child has felt loved, valued and connected to the significant people in his life, he is more likely to love and value himself, that is, he is more likely to have high self- esteem. Conversely, when a child experiences lack of love and belonging, he is less likely to love and value himself, that is, he is more likely to have low self-esteem.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea