Self Esteem is essential and important because we take it everywhere, we go and it affects everything we do. Self Esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. It’s how we feel about our self. It affects our health, relationships, work performance, attitude towards others and our attitude towards life.
Good Self Esteem:
- affects how we see the world and our place in it
- makes it possible to cope with disappointments and changes
- affects how others see and treat us
- influences us to make choices that are in our best interest
- affects our ability to give and receive love and find happiness
Low Self Esteem:
- reduces our ability to feel in control
- makes people vulnerable to depression
- we tend to see our self as less talented, less able
- we tend to make choices that are not in our best interest
- we tend to let others get their way at our expense
Guilt and Shame both result in feeling bad about who we are. Guilt is a result of an action. We either did something (I shouldn’t have said that) or didn’t do something (I forgot to call my mother on her birthday). Therefore, you can overcome and prevent guilt by being accountable, making amends when you can, and committing to do it differently in the future.
Shame on the other hand, is feeling bad about yourself too, but not because of an action. It is feeling bad because you feel inadequate. You feel different, dirty, defective and “less than”. You may feel like you wear a mask during the day so no one will know you, because if they knew you, they would not like you. Shame is a result of feeling unloved, abandoned, unwanted and from being told overtly or covertly you are inadequate. Children take on shame when they carry drama, trauma, abuse, or secrets in the family. One part of working through shame is by emotionally going back to the original trauma incident where the shame first occurred, and look at the situation now, from an adult perspective. For example, if a child was sexually abused and grew up feeling damaged as a result, going back, and seeing the situation from an adult’s eyes, can be very healing. A healthy adult knows that children are in no way responsible for their sexual abuse and that it was clearly not their fault. It is the result of an unhealthy and sick perpetrator. Therefore, the purpose of looking back is to correct the untruths that we may have come to believe about ourselves that are false that we have been holding on for a long time. When we see the situation differently, the shame has less of a hold on us. It is important and always worth it, to identify the truth about the situation and work through the trauma and distorted self-esteem. The shame that children take on, is not because they are broken or unworthy. It is what they came to believe about themselves because of the situation and often believing it was their fault. Children believe that bad things would not not have happened if they were better. Working through shame is about seeing the situation differently. The personal transformation that can result is enlightening and empowering. You can let go of negative beliefs that may have been a sabotage for your health, healthy relationships, and your ability to make good choices in general. Overcoming shame can restore a permanent and positive sense of well-being and self-worth. In addition to peace of mind and serenity, a positive image, results in making better choices, taking better care of yourself and improved and more satisfying relationships.
How Therapy Can Help
In therapy, we identify various blocks that sabotage good self esteem. We identify your level of shame and how you have managed it up to now. We then replace the old thinking and patterns with new thinking based on truths in your life today and the vision of how you want to feel about yourself and how you want to manage your life and get results that work for you. This is done be various exercises and skills that you can learn to make lasting changes. These changes result in an improved level of confidence with yourself and the ability to manage life on your terms.
Click here for a free handout on “Thoughts that Promote Good Self-Esteem”.