Counselling for Self-Esteem
- berate yourself for making mistakes?
- criticize yourself for doing things or not doing things?
- tell yourself that you should be like someone else?
- ruminate about your conversations with people, going over what you could have said or done differently?
This is your negative ‘inner voice’.
You may not hear this voice in the same way as a spoken one, but in many ways it constantly repeats negative messages to you. Your inner voice can have a huge impact, even though you are not aware of it.
Self esteem continually fluctuates and is affected by events and encounters with other people. Observing ourselves in relation to other people can be a helpful source of learning and feedback. Yet all too often comparison slips into competition and others become a yardstick by which we evaluate ourselves as good or bad, competent or inadequate.
The reality is, we are all unique. We have our own strengths and limitations. There are aspects of our behaviour and appearance we may seek to change or develop, but a sense of self is also based on self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Positive self esteem develops from basing our worth on our presence not on a measurement, positive or negative.
From infancy we look for encouragement and approval. We have a basic human need to be wanted, noticed and included. We want to contribute, to be of value and to make a difference – in other words to matter to those around us.
A lot of the problem comes when you learn that you matter because of what you do. Parents can be tough taskmasters in seeking the best for their children. Perhaps your parents were abusive or neglectful, leaving you feeling unwanted or worse, hated. Confusing and inconsistent family rules and boundaries make it hard to know what to expect, when.
Many people we have worked with have a sense of not being good enough for their parents and are still trying to be. Others seek counselling because of trauma associated with being different from their peers when young and having been shamed for it.
Your past experiences are active in your daily life through your ‘inner voice’
Learning that that you have value because you are here, and your presence is all that is needed to be worthy, is the essence of self acceptance.
Ways to improve your self esteem
- Do things for fun
Taking pleasure in life reflects a good feeling back to you.
- Look after yourself physically
Eat well and make sure to get the amount of sleep you really need.
- Exercise is the anti-depressant that has no side effects and works 100% of the time. It can give confidence and help you to feel good about your body. Pay attention to how you stand and walk. Think tall.
- Use rewards, not punishments
Make a list of the people, activities and interests that nurture you. Make sure you book time to enjoy these things. Listen to how you treat yourself – the internal conversation. If you bully yourself your self esteem will plummet. Reward yourself with compliments and a focus on your strengths.
- Cultivate good relationships
Are you putting up with bad treatment from others? Practice creating boundaries around what is not ok. If you accept the troubles, mistakes and variability of other people, how about being happy with “good enough” in relation to yourself? Involve others. Ask for support, feedback, affection. Join in with others. Do not assume you are not important. Most people are interested in making new friends, and friendships can begin at any time in life. Say hello, do not wait for other people to come to you. Smile. Be nice to others, volunteer, be helpful, pay compliments.
- Take responsibility
Don’t wait for others or circumstances to feel better about yourself. Accept responsibility for your own actions and creating the life you want. You cannot change other people, only yourself.