Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Low Self-Esteem
As an individual with complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and resulting low self-esteem, I can spend an exhaustive amount of time worrying about how others perceive me. Even though these worries are not the most rational when held up for inspection, they are so automatic that sometimes they slip right out before I have time to think about them. Here are some examples of how my low-self esteem manifests itself and what helps me fight the negativity, warped self-confidence and low self-esteem caused by my PTSD.
My Problems with Low Self-Esteem from PTSD
Here are some examples of recurring issues with low self-esteem that I have experienced since developing PTSD:
- Automatically assuming I had made some terrible mistake every time the boss/principal/parent asked to speak with me.
- Automatically assuming that any people seen whispering and laughing were making fun of me.
- Avoiding joining in activities because I wasn't "good enough" at them.
- Focusing on the minor mistakes in my work instead of the quality of the overall product.
- Assuming that no one would want to spend time with me.
- Holding back on team projects rather than have my ideas criticized.
- Wondering what my friends see in me.
I know all of the situations above can happen to anyone. However, they happened to me consistently for a very long time. The reason for this connects directly to my long-term trauma and coping mechanisms, and it wasn't until I understood this that I could begin liking myself.
Take Your Self-Esteem Back from PTSD
If you have PTSD and low self-esteem, you are not alone. Here are some ideas to help you see the strengths and value you possess.
- Identify your negative perceptions -- Much like the list I made above, write down the negative perceptions you catch yourself making. Learn to think of them as inaccurate.
- Identify your positive qualities -- For every negative, identify two positive qualities about yourself. After that, find some more.
- Ask for feedback -- If you're still uncertain about what makes you remarkable, ask your friends and close family what they see as your strong points.
- Accept praise -- Don't brush off compliments, accept them. It amazes me how difficult I find it just to say "thank you" sometimes.
- Compliment yourself daily -- Allow yourself to feel good. Make it a point to find something new to add to your list at least once a week.
I confess that my low self-esteem is one of the slowest healing casualties of my PTSD. I still catch myself wondering if I've done things well enough, taking things apart and redoing them because of errors no one else will ever notice. Most of the time, though, I can remind myself that my brain is working with outdated wiring.
Do you find yourself struggling with low self-esteem caused by PTSD? What has your experience been? As always, I look forward to your comments.