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Self Esteem – Turn Up the Volume

Self Esteem

How to Improve the Volume Control of our Assuredness

By Natalie Joseph, LPC

“Our self-respect tracks our choices. Every time we act in harmony with our authentic self and our heart, we earn our respect. It is that simple. Every choice matters.” – Dan Coppersmith

self esteem new directions counseling blogDo you find setting boundaries, controlling your anxiety, making decisions, and trying to be perfect challenging? Are you ready to turn up the volume of your self-esteem?

Our Choice, Our Voice of Self Esteem

Recall the voice inside your head that second-guesses everything, everyone’s intentions, and every important and no-so-important life choice. The voice of self-doubt is crippling. Our self-esteem controls the volume of that voice.  The words it uses are sometimes nice, sometimes not-so-nice. We can teach this voice a new way of articulating its message and it starts with the audio-driver; self-esteem.

Self-esteem is built by going through tension and stress and coming out the other side. A comfort zone is a path one takes on the journey of life with the least tension and barriers. But there are other paths carved out for us. These paths have steep hills and bumps along the way. The strenuous path is the more challenging path of the two. Its promised gift at the end of the journey is shiny, sparkly and undoubtedly takes us to a better place. Which path sounds better to you?

Help Me Understand

Self-esteem is a person’s attitude towards themselves, either favorable or unfavorable. It encapsulates two main components:

1. Self Efficacy – Confidence in our ability to cope with life’s hardships.

2. Self Respect – Believing we are deserving of love, happiness and achievement.

People who have difficulty making decisions often take the path of least resistance. In contrast, those who are confident in their decision making choose a more challenging path. Embodying self-efficacy and respect, a person has faith in their competence and interpersonal strength. The idea they are worthy of living a life full of happiness and peace makes sense to them. Self-esteem is influenced by thoughts, age, social/environmental circumstances, family dynamics, genetics and personality. The good news is self-esteem is measurable; meaning we can improve it no matter the contributing parts.

Life Without Self Esteem

People with self-esteem challenges experience a variety of negative and self-defeating thoughts, emotions and behaviors. These include:

  • Chronic feelings of shame and guilt
  • Frequent feelings of anxiety, depression, sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness
  • Fear to take on challenges, difficulty making decisions,
  • Difficulty setting boundaries
  • Trouble finding healthy relationships both platonic and romantic.
  • Consumed with perfectionism
  • Sensitivity to the opinions of others on a daily basis.

The thought of this is not only anxiety provoking but it is debilitating. A lack of believing in one’s own capabilities, however, is creating a vicious cycle enslaving a person to their fears. People wear their insecurities like a shield for survival. It’s only surviving, not thriving. It makes sense ‘surviving’ means less likely to take on challenges leading to a better quality of life. Challenges and risks involve unknowns and people who lack self-esteem hesitate to engage uncontrollable, uncomfortable situations. Even if they see the proverbial “pot of gold”, they resist. Why?

We tend to avoid efforts that could produce difficult emotions like shame, humiliation, disappointment, and regret. Often, our clients report staying in unhealthy situations because the daunting task of dealing with vulnerable emotions appear to be too much. It is not uncommon for people to believe they lack the ability to overcome the unpleasant emotions that eventually lead to positive changes.

Really Fascinating!!! Take a look…

The research states, higher self-esteem leads to better life choices. Better life choices are indicative of a person’s level of self-esteem. The better we feel and think about ourselves; the better our choices for ourselves. As our perception changes, the overflow of healthy relationships, enchanting life experiences, and excitement to take on challenges will follow suit. We will choose these things from our new vantage point of higher self-efficacy. This means if we avoid pain, then we will experience more suffering without hope. Making a change comes with short-term pain but with the hope of long-term gain. Contentment, happiness, satisfaction with yourself is close at hand. Wow!

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Practical Tips for Self Esteem

The Good Life

self esteem tips - new directions counselingHealthier self-esteem allows for a better outlook on life. It means taking on more fulfilling, life experiences. When you have a healthy level of self-esteem, it means you have faced tough situations and built resilience. When faced with hardships, you have consciously decided to stand up for yourself. You have tackled your feelings of guilt and found balance. When the fear of making the “wrong” choice comes, you push through it. Be cautious of allowing a poor choice reflect who you are as opposed to just a behavior that occurred.

Let’s Make the Change

We can improve our self-esteem. Despite our tough situations, pre-existing barriers, and mental health struggles; it can happen for you! It is a conscious choice to improve our lives. Here are helpful reminders for this process include:

  • Patience – It is not an overnight experience. It is an intentional, daily choice to try. Resilience and trust take time. Focus only on the day you are experiencing.
  • Check the Facts – Remind yourself of your achievements. Remember it is only you who has the power to focus on all of your successes. Choose the good!
  • Positive Affirmations – Remind yourself of what you like about yourself. Put your intention on small accomplishments and qualities you enjoy about yourself. Write it down and reflect on it knowing it to be true. As our view changes, our view of life changes and we begin to behave accordingly.
  • Viewing Setbacks as Steps Forward and Toward –  Any setback has an opportunity for a comeback. Re-examine the ways you internalize failing. Remind yourself that failing something doesn’t make you a failure.
  • Create Instead of Compare – Stop idolizing the lives of those you deem better than you or happier. Create a life for yourself that makes YOU smile. Stop comparing yourself to people and their possessions.  You don’t want what isn’t yours! Create your own.
  • Turn Your “Have To’s” into “Get To’s” – Notice the difference in “I have to get up this morning.” With “I get to wake up this morning.”
  • Try New Things – Take a small risk. Do something that makes you smile. Find something soothing and enjoy it. Know you are important and need to be nurtured. Like a flower, we get so used to the sunshine; we forget we need water too. Step into something different! It may be fun.
  • Get Physical – When the body is moving so are your brain’s chemicals to focus on the moment. It is similar to mediation. Practice your breathing while you move.
  • Goodbye Perfectionism – Perfectionism is produced from unrealistic expectations. These expectations create further avoidance. It is counter productive to be a perfectionist.
  • Be the Friend to You That You Are To Others – Acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing your mistakes as information and knowledge for better choices in the future. Trial and error are what we do and how we learn.
  • Be Around Nice People – Surround yourself with people who bring out the best parts of you. Find the people who support you through your good days and not so good days. Good company allows for good feelings. You need more of those!
  • Check Your Values – Compare your life choices and behaviors to the things you value. Your values can become the compass that leads you to your best life experience.
  • Create Realistic Goals – Create goals that are attainable by small actions over time. These behaviors overtime will create a desired result. Hold yourself accountable by rewarding yourself with healthy things.
  • Get to Know Yourself – A tough judge has no mercy on mistakes. A realistic judge of character is one that sees mistakes and setbacks as the birthplace for further victory. Know your weaknesses and know your strengths. Either way, get to know you for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be nice to yourself because you’re worth it.

Do you need someone to walk along your side as you manage a more challenging path? Make your first step towards improved self-esteem by contact New Directions Counseling at 724.934.3905