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Our Self-Esteem: Branden’s (1994) 6 Key Elements.

Branden (1994) identified six key foundations upon which the development of a healthy level of self-esteem is built; these six building blocks of self-esteem are as follows:

THE SIX KEY FACTORS THAT UNDERPIN A HEALTHY LEVEL OF SELF-ESTEEM:

1) Being consciously engaged with the present

2) Being accepting of oneself

3) Taking responsibility for oneself

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life

5) Having personal integrity

6) Having a capability to act in an assertive manner when necessary

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) Being consciously engaged in the present: When a young child is playing, s/he becomes ‘lost’ in the present, utterly mentally involved with the activity and living entirely in the here and now. As adults, we tend to lose this ability; instead of living in the present we dwell on/ ruminate about the past (as is often the case for people suffering from clinical depression) and/or worry about the future (which frequently occurs, often to an obsessive degree, in people who suffer from an anxiety disorder), rarely living for now. Whole lifetimes can be wasted in this manner, possibly spent using drink and drugs in a futile attempt to recapture this childhood mental state of unsullied psychological purity. However, we can train ourselves to live more in the present through the practice of mindfulness meditation. Indeed, research into the positive psychological effect of mindfulness meditation had yielded impressive results.

2) Accepting oneself: This means accepting both one’s good qualities and bad (after learning from our mistakes and undertaking not to repeat them we need to forgive ourselves, acknowledging we are a highly fallible human being, like everyone else, rather than torturing ourselves with guilt. Also, making mistakes ourselves can give us empathy for others around us who make mistakes too, and help us not to judge them.

3) Taking responsibility for ourselves: If we deny any responsibility for our own lives, we deprive ourselves of the motivating belief that we can significantly contribute towards shaping our own destinies.

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life: This could be finding one’s true vocation (rather than a job one would rather not do due to financial necessity) which may involve downsizing and living a less materialistic life. And, of course, some find meaning through religion, spirituality, or a political or social cause.

5) Having personal integrity: This means living an authentic life that is true to who we are, developing our own moral code based on personal reasoning, and attempting to live by it.

6) Having a capability to act assertively when necessary: A key component of this is to value our own needs and not allow ourselves to be exploited by others. This means having the strength and courage to stand up for ourselves in a firm, but not aggressive, manner.    

 

15+ Self Esteem Hypnosis Sessions | Self Hypnosis Downloads.

 

  David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

We come to form our beliefs, including those about ourselves, through our life experiences. Of course, the beliefs we hold because of what has happened to us in life can be very inaccurate. Experiences that we have early in life have a particularly strong impact on how we feel about ourselves, and, below, I list some that are likely to lead us to develop a feeling of low self-esteem, leading us to dislike ourselves, overly criticize ourselves, lack confidence, feel unlovable and believe we’re not interesting or important:

  • our parents treating us as a constant disappointment in childhood.
  • being bullied/ left out/ maliciously teased when we were at school.
  • feeling, or being treated, like we don’t fit in at home – ‘black sheep syndrome’
  • suffering prejudice and discrimination when we were children
  • experiencing systematic and cruel punishment as children.
  • being neglected when we were children (e.g. deprived of love, security, interest, praise etc.)
  • having constantly to cope with a parent’s distress/emotional needs when we were children, at a cost to ourselves.

I elaborate on each of these below:

OUR PARENTS TREATING US AS A CONSTANT DISAPPOINTMENT IN CHILDHOOD: This can include parents always putting our mistakes and weaknesses in the spotlight whilst simultaneously ignoring our strengths and the positive aspects of ourselves. It can also involve being constantly ridiculed and teased in a hurtful way ( my own mother referred to me as ‘scabby’, because, as a child, I had the nervous habit of picking at scabs on my arms and legs; and also ‘poof’, because I was highly sensitive ). Over time, it is all too easy to become conditioned into believing that there is something FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with us and that we are of no value.

BEING BULLIED/LEFT OUT/MALICIOUSLY TEASED AT SCHOOL: We all want to be accepted by our peer group when we are young and developing our fragile and vulnerable self-concept. It is a human instinct, particularly pronounced during adolescence, to want to be accepted by the group. We evolved, as a species, after all, as social animals because acceptance by the group added to our chances of survival. It is, therefore, a fundamental psychological drive, created by millions of years of evolution, difficult (putting it mildly), therefore, to overcome. Indeed, it is so powerful that it can lead to problems such as feeling a need to conform to group expectations even if it makes us uncomfortable (eg feeling pressure to be confident and jovial when we actually feel depressed and anxious). If we don’t conform to the expectations of the group (unless one is an exceptionally strong personality, which normally does not materialize until later in life) we may be rejected, bullied, and cruelly teased and this can have a very damaging and lasting effect on our self-esteem.

FEELING, OR BEING TREATED, LIKE WE DON’T FIT IN AT HOME: This is sometimes referred to as ‘being the black sheep of the family. Perhaps there is something about us that does not fit in. An example might be the central character of the film, ‘BILLY ELLIOT’, who, at a very young age, decides he wants to be a ballet dancer much to the violent chagrin of his tough, alpha-male, former miner father (who would much rather see him incurring possible brain damage in the boxing ring). Or simply being the quiet one or the introverted one. Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being any of these things, but, if it makes us stand out in the family, we might be treated as odd, a misfit, strange, ‘not quite one of us’ and in some way deficient and of less value. Again, over time, this can significantly wear down our self-esteem and can lead to growing up feeling rather like a pariah.

SUFFERING PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN: There are many ways in which this can occur – I remember, when I was at school, a boy in my class who came from a very poor and not especially caring family; he was not properly cared for by his parents and used to turn up to school in very tatty and dirty clothes every day. Cruelly, he was nicknamed ‘Tramp’ by the other boys. Another boy, perhaps slightly effeminate, was always being called ‘Poof’. A third came from the traveling community and was called ‘Dirty Gypo’ and more or less completely ostracized. Children, then, through no fault of their own whatsoever, can become the focus of hostility and contempt. They also, of course, tend to be the most vulnerable, already struggling with self-image. Such treatment, particularly if the child has a lack of solid emotional support at home, can have long-lasting effects on self-esteem.

EXPERIENCING SYSTEMATIC AND CRUEL PUNISHMENT: If we are often severely and unfairly punished as children, we may come to equate the fact with meaning we must be a bad person, that we have somehow brought it upon ourselves, and that we deserve it. This, especially, becomes true if the punishment is inconsistent and unpredictable (eg more to do with the parent’s mood and lack of self-control than what the child has actually done), extreme and the child does not understand what he/she is supposed to have done wrong. Also, more ‘subtle’ punishments, such as being ‘given the silent treatment’ ( my mother had this down to a fine art) can be equally damaging. Such treatment is another very high-risk factor in relation to causing long-term and severe problems with the development of self-esteem.

BEING NEGLECTED WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN (e..g being deprived of love, security, interest, praise, etc): It is not just the presence of bad things in our childhoods that can affect self-esteem adversely, but, also, THE ABSENCE OF GOOD THINGS. These include praise, interest, affection, the reassurance of being loved, the reassurance of being wanted, and the reassurance of being valued. In other words, then, it is not just blatantly bad treatment that impacts adversely upon the child’s self-esteem, but, also, the missing fundamental good things.

HAVING CONSTANTLY TO COPE WITH A PARENT’S DISTRESS/EMOTIONAL NEEDS WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN: Some parents are emotionally immature and, in a kind of role reversal, actually turn to their children for emotional support, as happened in my own case following my parents’ divorce when I was eight. Indeed, by the time I was eleven, my mother sometimes referred to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’ (encouraging me to continue in my rather bizarre role). This was,s obviously, a great psychological burden and caused me great worry and concern. Also, if there is friction in the parents’ marriage or other pressures, parents can transfer their own distress onto their children and are more likely to become volatile, lose control, become prone to anger or withdrawal due to their own problems. Such deficient parenting, too, can affect the child’s self-esteem.

 

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THINKING BADLY ABOUT OURSELVES?

Individuals with low self-esteem constantly criticize themselves. We may even META-CRITICIZE ourselves (criticize ourselves for criticizing ourselves). We often focus on mistakes and over-generalize from them, believing that these mistakes completely define us as a person (thus losing perspective and ignoring the positive things about ourselves; in other words, being biased against ourselves, often because we have been programmed to dislike ourselves during childhood).

This faulty thinking style leads to depression, guilt, and low confidence. We may think of ourselves as -stupid -unlikeable -inferior -weak -incompetent, etc…etc…

We need to question our negative beliefs about ourselves and ask ourselves: ARE WE CONFUSING OUR THOUGHTS ABOUT OURSELVES WITH THE ACTUAL FACTS? One of the biggest dangers of self-criticism is that it can PARALYZE and DEMORALIZE us, taking away our confidence to try to develop ourselves in life. We feel doomed to perpetual, unremitting failure.

CONSTANTLY CRITICIZING OURSELVES IS UNFAIR:

We would not follow a friend around all day and focus his attention on his every little mistake by loudly announcing it to the exclusion of everything else, so why do we think it fair to do it to ourselves – undermining ourselves, chipping further away at our own precarious confidence?

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC:

Often, we criticize ourselves with the benefit of hindsight – overlooking the fact that it was not possible to have this perspective at the time, and that we reacted AS THINGS APPEARED TO US THEN.

When we criticize ourselves in RETROSPECT, we do so with the benefit of information that was not available to us at the time we acted. CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM PREVENTS US FROM LEARNING:

By constantly criticizing ourselves we take away our confidence to tackle problems in the future that could help develop us as a person; we keep ourselves ‘stuck’. We learn much better by PRAISING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO RIGHT, NOT CRITICIZING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO WRONG.

If we conclude we’re a hopeless failure, condemned to be eternally incompetent and useless when we get things wrong, we will lose all incentive to persevere and make constructive changes in our lives.

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS MASOCHISTIC:

By constantly criticizing ourselves, we are kicking ourselves when we are down. We might be criticizing ourselves for such things as lacking confidence or always being miserable. It is important to remember, though, that other people, too, would probably see themselves in the same way if they had had the same experiences as us. It is a NATURAL and COMMON response to stressful events and does not mean that there is anything fundamentally wrong with us.

OVERCOMING OUR CRITICAL THOUGHTS:

Spotting our self-critical thoughts: self-critical thoughts can become automatic, a routine we have never actively tried to change. We may not even have considered that we can change, assuming they were an essential and unalterable part of our nature.

But changing the way we think about ourselves changes the way we feel and behave, so it is necessary for us to stop being so hard on ourselves and focus much more on our positive qualities and our potential to grow as a person as we would like to.

We need to stop feeling excessive guilt and disappointment in ourselves and realize such thoughts are most probably the result of depressed, faulty self-judgments and do not accurately reflect the person we actually are.

We need to gradually distance ourselves from these erroneous, negative self-descriptions that we have, up until the time we undertake to change, imposed upon ourselves.

CHALLENGING OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT OURSELVES:

When we have negative thoughts about ourselves we can do the following:

-tell ourselves our thoughts about ourselves could be completely mistaken, unrealistic, and unfair. Also, they may be caused by an irrational guilt complex and a subsequent unconscious wish to punish ourselves.

  • concentrate on all the evidence AGAINST our negative view of ourselves.
  • consider other perspectives: are we taking the most negative one possible?
  • remind ourselves that our negative thoughts are keeping us stuck in our life situation, making us too depressed, unmotivated, and lacking necessary confidence to develop our full potential and to change our lives for the better.
  • remind ourselves that we are almost certainly judging ourselves too harshly; much more harshly, say, than we would judge a friend. -remind ourselves that it is irrational to write ourselves off as a person due to some past mistakes and weaknesses.
  • make more of our strengths and less of our weaknesses.
  • stop feeling disproportionately guilty about mistakes made in relation to great stress.

 

Our Self-Esteem: Branden’s (1994) 6 Key Elements.

Branden (1994) identified six key foundations upon which the development of a healthy level of self-esteem is built; these six building blocks of self-esteem are as follows:

THE SIX KEY FACTORS THAT UNDERPIN A HEALTHY LEVEL OF SELF-ESTEEM:

1) Being consciously engaged with the present

2) Being accepting of oneself

3) Taking responsibility for oneself

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life

5) Having personal integrity

6) Having a capability to act in an assertive manner when necessary

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) Being consciously engaged in the present: When a young child is playing, s/he becomes ‘lost’ in the present, utterly mentally involved with the activity and living entirely in the here and now. As adults, we tend to lose this ability; instead of living in the present we dwell on/ ruminate about the past (as is often the case for people suffering from clinical depression) and/or worry about the future (which frequently occurs, often to an obsessive degree, in people who suffer from an anxiety disorder), rarely living for now. Whole lifetimes can be wasted in this manner, possibly spent using drink and drugs in a futile attempt to recapture this childhood mental state of unsullied psychological purity. However, we can train ourselves to live more in the present through the practice of mindfulness meditation. Indeed, research into the positive psychological effect of mindfulness meditation had yielded impressive results.

2) Accepting oneself: This means accepting both one’s good qualities and bad (after learning from our mistakes and undertaking not to repeat them we need to forgive ourselves, acknowledging we are a highly fallible human being, like everyone else, rather than torturing ourselves with guilt. Also, making mistakes ourselves can give us empathy for others around us who make mistakes too, and help us not to judge them.

3) Taking responsibility for ourselves: If we deny any responsibility for our own lives, we deprive ourselves of the motivating belief that we can significantly contribute towards shaping our own destinies.

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life: This could be finding one’s true vocation (rather than a job one would rather not do due to financial necessity) which may involve downsizing and living a less materialistic life. And, of course, some find meaning through religion, spirituality, or a political or social cause.

5) Having personal integrity: This means living an authentic life that is true to who we are, developing our own moral code based on personal reasoning, and attempting to live by it.

6) Having a capability to act assertively when necessary: A key component of this is to value our own needs and not allow ourselves to be exploited by others. This means having the strength and courage to stand up for ourselves in a firm, but not aggressive, manner.    

 

15+ Self Esteem Hypnosis Sessions | Self Hypnosis Downloads.

 

  David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).