Understanding self-esteem

Understanding self-esteem

28 Mar

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

How others treat us greatly influences the way we see ourselves. We all know people who genuinely like themselves and feel content with their lives.

Because they see the positive in themselves, they’re able to understand and appreciate the good of other people. They treat others with a sense of respect, a skill they know well, because this is how they treat themselves. When our feelings about ourselves are positive, we show others that we like and value ourselves, and then others tend to treat us well. But when we have negative feelings about ourselves, so that we are too critical, complaining and pessimistic, others tend to take this attitude towards us as well. How we treat ourselves helps determine how others will treat us.

The thoughts we have about ourselves, or how we define ourselves, contribute to our self-image. The feelings we have about these thoughts, whether these feelings are good or bad, are the building blocks of our self-esteem. Our self-image, and gradually our self-esteem, can be molded by our parents, parents, family, friends, physical, or intellectual abilities, education, and jobs. Just as we have definitions for most things in the world, we also have definitions for ourselves. We come to define ourselves, the way others define us. Thus, if others treat us with love and kindness, as if we are special and unique people, then we will eventually define ourselves in this way as well. On the other hand, if other people treat us as if we are a bother to have around and not worth much, then we will also come to see ourselves in this way.

Some people confuse healthy, positive self-esteem, with audacity or arrogance, a false sense of superiority over other people. True self-esteem, however, means that we do not have to assert ourselves at the expense of other people. Indeed, it is those with negative self-esteem who must resort to the tactic of exaggerating their own self-worth, usually by putting others down. Those are positive self-esteem Emma can acknowledge their own worth and validate the positive qualities of others.

Try these techniques for working on positive thoughts:

  1. Write down your negative thoughts. This increases your awareness of them, and you can discover patterns in your negative thinking. You may also be able to see what triggers negativity.
  2. Limit negative thinking. Whenever you find yourself having negative thoughts, tell yourself, stop! This, privately to yourself, or perhaps, out loud, or give yourself a little tap on the wrist as a reminder.
  3. Replace the negative with a positive thought and do this immediately after stopping the negative thought. It may take some creativity and effort to learn how to change negative thoughts to positive ones.