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Improving Self Esteem

Improving Your Self-Esteem with Psychotherapy

Your perception of yourself can determine how well you feel and function. Yourself-esteem is based on how you see yourself. For instance, do you think you are valuable and worthy? In other words, it is the extent in which you like and respect yourself. If you have a healthy self-esteem, you respect yourself and have feelings of self-worth and value. On the other hand, if you have a low self-esteem, you constantly doubt and criticize yourself. You may also suffer from anxiety, anger issues, aggressive behaviors, social isolation and embarrassment. 

Self-esteem typically develops during adolescence, but it can also develop during early childhood. Certain experiences and events can negatively affect your perception of yourself, thus leading to low self-esteem. For instance, if you are constantly degraded and criticized by a parental figure, you may start to believe that you have little to no self-worth or value. In addition, if you are bullied or picked on by classmates, you may develop low self-esteem because you feel like no one likes you.

Other factors that can affect your self-esteem include: being discriminated against because you are of a different race, culture, religion, weight, height, sexual orientation and/or economic class. You may also suffer from low self-esteem if you are made fun of because you have a chronic illness or disability. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your self-esteem. You are not alone and there is help for you. All you have to do is tell someone you trust how you feel.

·       Self-Esteem Issues

Challenges can cause a drop in self-esteem, even if you have a healthy self-esteem. Being fired or laid-off, divorcing, addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling and/or food), financial difficulties, mental illnesses, chronic health conditions, debilitating disabilities, child-rearing problems, etc. can cause you to question your value and self-worth. Psychotherapy not only helps you process your situation clearly, it also teaches you how to improve your perception of yourself. A psychologist can help you understand the root of your low self-esteem, acknowledge your positive qualities, work through your issues and improve your sense of self-worth and value.

·       Psychotherapy and Self-Esteem

Although you have a high risk of developing low self-esteem, if you  have experienced child abuse, domestic violence, child neglect and/or addiction, you are also at risk if you are perfectionist, overachiever and/or extremely competitive. Perfectionists, overachievers and highly competitive individuals tend to feel that they must be “perfect” all of the time and therefore set unrealistic goals for themselves. When these individuals cannot accomplish these unattainable goals they blame themselves and view themselves as failures. Moreover, if you have recently lost a loved one, your job and/or acquired a new medical condition, you may experience a decline in your self-esteem. Many times, a low self-esteem stems from a loss of control over your life and situation.

A psychologist will not only help you identify the cause of your distress, he/she will also help you develop realistic goals that will make you feel inspired and in control of your life. For instance, if you are not satisfied with your job, a psychologist will work with you to develop a plan that helps you gain a new job or he/she will work with you to develop a plan that helps you advance at your current job. If you have low self-esteem as the result of a failed marriage, a psychologist will work with you to develop a plan that allows you to figure out who you are (as an individual) and what you want.

The most effective treatment for low self-esteem is goal-directed therapy. A goal-directed therapist may treat you individually by teaching you how to change your thought processes and behaviors or he/she may treat you in a group setting with a brief therapy approach. In addition, if you have recently acquired a medical condition, disability or illness, your therapist’s approach may include animals. Animal-assistance therapy has shown success in treating those who suffer from low self-esteem as a result of a chronic illness and/or disability. Animals do not recognize differences (medical conditions and physical impairments) and are associated with unconditional love, which can improve self-worth, self-value and self-esteem in some individuals.

References:

Schiraldi, G. R. (2001). The self-esteem workbook. Oakland, CA: New          Harbinger Publications.

Schiraldi, G. R. (2007). 10 simple solutions for building self-esteem: How to      end self-doubt, gain confidence, & create a positive self-image.          Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. 


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