We have seen in previous articles that I’ve posted on this site how suffering childhood trauma can destroy our self-esteem due to the fact we are undermined at a stage in our life when our view of ourselves is in a stage of incipient development and highly sensitive to how others, especially our family, make us feel about ourselves – they create the mould in which our self- view is shaped and set.
If our self-esteem has been devastatingly, negatively impacted, we can develop a view of ourselves as being somehow toxic which persists well into adulthood or, indeed, over an entire lifespan if we do not take proactive steps to correct this potentially life-ruining problem.
As adults whose self-esteem has been essentially anihalated, we may feel:
– utterly worthless
– irredeemably, even fatally, flawed
– a ‘bad’ person to our very core of being (click here to read my article entitled: ‘How The Child’s View Of Himself Is Perpetuated’).
– permanently, irreparably psychologically and morally damaged
– a difficult to express sense of somehow contaminating the lives of others merely by the act of being physically present, preventing us from forming relationships (no one could possibly want us, we muse despairingly), let alone getting married and having children ( or, if we, by some freak chance, somehow found someone insane enough to marry us, we may believe they’d be better off without us).
The Basis Of Self-Esteem:
In order to develop self-esteem we need to respect ourselves by understanding all human beings are worthy of respect and cultivate self-acceptance, including our faults and limitations. Indeed, self-esteem is not about having an inflated and grandiose view of ourselves, but, rather, about being able to live with an honest and accurate self-appraisal. Awareness of our failings, and a self – compassionate acceptance of them, provides us with a helpful sense of our own humanity and helps us develop compassion for, and empathy towards, others.
To develop self-esteem, we need, constantly, to reinforce positive affirmations relating to ourselves until we internalise and believe them. During our childhood, it is very likely the opposite occurred (ie we internalised and came to believe negative messages we received about ourselves, perhaps because we were constantly treated as if we were ‘bad’people).
One way to internalise new and helpful affirmations is to use self-hypnosis.
Examples of positive affirmations include:
– I am worthy of respect, both from myself and from others
– I have the ability and autonomy to make meaningful changes to my life
– I have as much worth and value as any other human on the planet
– I am worthy of love from others (this can be a particularly hard one, so indoctrinated may we have been, as a child, with the opposite message)
– there are things I’m good at doing and many things I can learn to be good at doing
– problems I have faced, and survived, are a testament to my strength of character and can be used to make me a stronger, better, more enlightened person
– I am not helpless and can exercise power to grow and develop even further as an individual
– the respect I am worthy of as a human being is unconditional
Other Ways To Improve Our Self-Esteem:
– develop realistic expectations of ourselves and strive to live up to them
– stop setting ourselves impossible targets, setting ourselves up for failure
– focus on our strengths/developing new strengths
– reduce excessive self-criticism (cognitive behavioural therapy is especially helpful for this – click here to read my article on this topic).
– stay true to ourselves, without constantly striving to fit in with others’ demands (explicit or implicit) about who we should be.
– take up a new hobby/take adult education classes/take up charity work (helping others is an extremely effective way to raise self-esteem).
– if feasible, give ourselves small and frequent rewards
Self- hypnosis audio download to raise self-esteem : Click HERE.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).