self esteem

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

self esteem : Where Does Self-Esteem Come From?

Our self-esteem develops and evolves throughout our lives as we build an image of ourselves through our experiences with different people and activities. Experiences during our childhood play a particularly large role in the shaping of our basic self-esteem. When we were growing up, our successes (and failures) and how we were treated by the members of our immediate family, by our teachers, coaches, religious authorities, and by our peers, all contributed to the creation of our basic self-esteem.

Self-esteem is largely developed during childhood.

Healthy Self-Esteem
Childhood experiences that lead to healthy self-esteem include-

being praised

being listened to

being spoken to respectfully

getting attention and hugs

experiencing success in sports or school

having trustworthy friends

Low Self-Esteem
Childhood experiences that lead to low self-esteem include-

being harshly criticized

being yelled at, or beaten

being ignored, ridiculed or teased

being expected to be "perfect" all the time

experiencing failures in sports or school
People with low self-esteem were often given messages that failed experiences (losing a game, getting a poor grade, etc.) were failures of their whole self.

What Does Your "Inner Voice" Say?
Our past experiences, even the things we don't usually think about, are all alive and active in our daily life in the form of an Inner Voice. Although most people do not "hear" this voice in the same way they would a spoken one, in many ways it acts in a similar way, constantly repeating those original messages to us.

For people with healthy self-esteem the messages of the inner voice are positive and reassuring. For people with low self-esteem, the inner voice becomes a harsh inner critic, constantly criticizing, punishing, and belittling their accomplishments.

THREE Faces of Low Self-Esteem
Most of us have an image of what low self-esteem looks like, but it is not always so easy to recognize. Here are three common faces that low self-esteem may wear:

The Impostor: acts happy and successful, but is really terrified of failure. Lives with the constant fear that she or he will be "found out." Needs continuous successes to maintain the mask of positive self-esteem, which may lead to problems with perfectionism, procrastination, competition, and burn-out.

The Rebel: acts like the opinions or good will of others - especially people who are important or powerful - don't matter. Lives with constant anger about not feeling "good enough." Continuously needs to prove that others' judgments and criticisms don't hurt, which may lead to problems like blaming others excessively, breaking rules or laws, or fighting authority.

The Loser: acts helpless and unable to cope with the world and waits for someone to come to the rescue. Uses self-pity or indifference as a shield against fear of taking responsibility for changing his or her life. Looks constantly to others for guidance, which can lead to such problems as lacking assertiveness skills, under-achievement, and excessive reliance on others in relationships.

Consequences of Low Self-EsteemLow self-esteem can have devastating consequences.

It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for depression.
It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.
It can seriously impair academic and job performance.
It can lead to underachievement and increased vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse.
Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem and increasingly non-productive or even actively self-destructive behavior.

©1999 CMHC


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