COVID-19 affects mental health. Most of the news is about people with underlying physical health issues and how the virus is extra dangerous to them. Have no doubt, those of us with mental health diagnoses are also at extra risk and we don't even have to be exposed to experience the fallout.
Does seeing a therapist increase self-esteem and the self-esteem building process? While our society is working hard to de-stigmatize the belief that therapy exists only for people in crisis or with chronic mental illness, we still tend to think of therapy as something to help us move from bad to neutral, instead of from neutral to good. Yet therapists are trained to understand how the mind can build confidence and create sustainable change. As you consider adding therapy to your self-esteem journey, read on to learn three ways that therapy can help increase self-esteem.
Vulnerability is not something we normally link with self-esteem. We are much more inclined to picture an impenetrable sort of confidence, a version of ourselves where nothing can breach our walls of strength and self-adoration. Yet vulnerability is not only an incredibly powerful tool for those already on the road towards building self-esteem–it is also a very good place to start.
Bad habits--they're pesky little things, aren't they? I imagine just reading the phrase makes you picture one of yours. Maybe your bad habit is biting your nails, or not responding to texts, or leaving the dishes in the sink. It's the thing you do that deep down, you know you don't like. But sometimes our bad habits aren't just small annoyances. Sometimes they burrow into our identity and affect our ability to build self-esteem. When bad habits affect self-esteem, what do we do?
Do we have to conquer fear? I've gone through some changes in my life recently that have me thinking about fear. In particular, how we react to feeling afraid. Why are some fears considered perfectly acceptable, while others fill us with shame and demand action? Being afraid of an aggressive animal, an impending surgery, or a loved one experiencing harm are all considered rational and acceptable. Yet we tend to hide our fears of social interaction, object/behaviors that feel uncomfortable, or people who affect us. So, what makes certain fears unpalatable? What makes us decide a fear is unfounded or embarrassing? Why are some fears allowed, while other fears must be conquered?
Accountability matters when we're building self-esteem. We do not like to do things wrong. As children, many of us are taught that wrongdoing results in punishment. We learn to deny mistakes, to avoid the "bad" experiences that result from being blamed. Yet though we may learn to avoid culpability, we never stop making mistakes–they are a natural part of life. So, what happens when we shift away from denying mistakes and focus on using accountability as a tool to build self-esteem?
Failure. It's not a nice word, is it? For many of us, we see failure as a glaring red stop sign. "Go no further," failure tells us, "You are not good enough to succeed." But did you know Walt Disney's first animation company was dissolved within six months? That J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers? For both, failure was not a stopping point–they continued to try until they found success. How did they keep believing in themselves, instead of seeing failure as a message they couldn't succeed? They separated their work from their self-worth.
How do we define our personal values? In my post last week, "What Is Self-Worth", I explored the topic of self-worth. When we are living with low self-esteem, we often struggle to find self-worth. This comes from believing we are unable to succeed at the things we value personally. But where do these values come from? How do we decide what is important to us?
Explore your low self-esteem? How do you do that? Picture a road map. On one side is a bright red dot, labeled "High Self-Esteem." This is our destination, the place we dream of arriving. Our map is covered in routes that twist and turn, approaching the red dot from all different directions. On our journey we will be able to explore these, finding the ones that lead us closer to our goal. But in order to begin, we need to find the dot labeled "You Are Here." We have to know our starting point. We have to explore the starting point of our low self-esteem to know how to raise it.
If you're struggling with confidence and anxiety, then feeling self-confident and safe in the world around you is hard. Your brain is stuck in a stress-response mode, making you feel overwhelmed and uneasy. Anxiety isn't a choice; it's due to your biology, your environment and past experiences in the world that trigger doubt or fear. The more we know about the science of anxiety or anxiety disorders and what contributes to our level of distress, the more confident we become in our ability to overcome it.