How can a psychologist help me with my low self-esteem and confidence?
Having low self-esteem and confidence can affect many domains of our lives – social situations, school, employment, and interpersonal relationships. We view ourselves negatively often seeing ourselves as being “less than” others, and struggle to see any positive personal qualities. Having low self-esteem can make you a target for bullying, criticism or abuse from others. Therapy can help you to develop a more balanced view of yourself and others, whilst building a healthier sense of self. This is called self-acceptance.
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Acceptance
Societal norms have taught us that having low self-esteem is bad and high self-esteem is good. That is, when we don’t have high self-esteem, then there must be something wrong with us. We are defective, abnormal, or have failed in some way, which can, quite naturally, lead to feeling unmotivated and depressed.
Now consider the other end of self-esteem spectrum – having high self-esteem which may result in conceit, smugness, egotism, increased prejudice, being blind to your own faults, or narcissism, and may result in an angry or aggressive response to someone who has made us look or feel bad. Who wants to spend time with people with high self-esteem when it looks like this? Having high self-esteem does not necessarily lead to having better relationships.
Perhaps it may better to practice self-acceptance instead. To learn how to accept all parts of you – without judging whether they are “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative” – they just are.
Once you can accept that you are a human who has both positive qualities and personal failings, you are able to respond with compassion rather than self-loathing. This means that your sense-of-self is internal and you do not need to look for external support and validation in times of personal failing.
Self-compassion = self-acceptance PLUS being kind to yourself.
3 Steps to Learning Self-Compassion
- Raise your awareness
- Start to tune in and notice how you speak to yourself
- Do you call yourself names and criticize yourself? Blame yourself? “You are useless….you always get things wrong…why can’t you ever get it right…fat, lazy cow…”
- Stop and evaluate
- Would you ever speak to someone else this way?
- Is it helpful or useful to talk to yourself in this way? What has your direct past experience shown you about this?
- How has this type of talk helped you in the long term?
- Experiment by doing something different
- Would you speak to someone you care about like this?
- Change the words and tone you use as if you were speaking to someone you care about.
- Imagine the words someone who cares about you would use: “Everyone makes mistakes, you are only human”…”There are probably others who didn’t know the answer either, it was just bad luck that you got picked to answer the question”.
- Lay a loving and compassionate hand over the part of you that is feeling really bad, and then speak nicely to yourself.
Incorporate self-compassion into your daily life
Physically to soften your body and release tension and stress.
Mentally to reduce agitation in your mind.
Emotionally find ways to soothe and comfort yourself.
Relationships seek relationships with others who you can genuinely connect to, who can understand and nourish you in the times you need some extra emotional support.
Values find out what gives you meaning in your life and commit to your values.
If you are seeking the services of a psychologist or counsellor in Perth, please contact me on 0406 033 644 or email@example.com.
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 Narcissism: “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration…” Oxford University Press, 2015