OVERCOMING LOW SELF ESTEEM; Counselling can help women develop more self confidence
Our beliefs about ourselves can affect our view of life and our day-to-day feelings. It can show in our behaviour toward others, and can limit our ability to do the things we enjoy.
Many women have told us they recognise that Low Self-Esteem limits their potential, and causes problems in significant areas of their lives.
Low Self-Esteem is a form of prejudice we hold against ourselves.
Most of us like to think that we don't hold unreasonable prejudices about other people. At the same time we may not realise that holding a persistent critical 'inner picture' of ourselves is, in fact, a form of prejudice; an unreasonable prejudice that we are holding (and maintaining) against ourselves.
Again, most of us can plainly see when unkind treatment is harming or undermining someone else; indeed, many of us would try to defend a person they thought was being treated unfairly...at the very least, we would understand that it was unfair treatment. However, when it comes to understanding how we treat ourselves,this ability to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful attitudes sometimes just isn't there. We don't defend ourselves against persistent undermining criticism when the unfair critic is somewhere inside us!
The signs of Low Self-Esteem.
Low self-confidence can show itself in any or all of these ways:
- feeling unconfident in social situations
- causing unnecessary and repetitive problems in close relationships
- being passed-over for promotion at work
- not sticking at studies
- not trying new hobbies or sports
- accepting an unsatisfactory home-life
- not looking after our health
- spending unwisely
- putting up with being treated badly
- over-focusing on grooming and appearance, or neglecting appearance
Symptoms of Low Self Esteem; the feelings and thoughts associated with Chronic Low Self Confidence can include:
Persistent self-blame, shame, guilt, fear, frequent comparisons with others, interpreting others' behaviour towards us as 'proof' of our unworthiness, pessimism, 'playing the victim' when it might be possible to take control of our own lives, perfectionism, worrying too much about what other people think, idolising other people and making rigid judgements.
Less obvious Symptoms of Low Self esteem:
The majority of women with low self esteem tell us they usually take it out on themselves. However, some women have told us about a less obvious consequence of low self esteem: being persistently (or exaggeratedly) negative about other people. Groucho Marx's quip: 'who would want to join a club where I was a member?' (or something like that!) makes some people automatically think less of anybody who likes them.
Persistent mistrust of reasonably honest people, fault-finding, malicious gossiping, setting 'tests' for how much people care, and having a persistent inability to forgive can also be signs of low self-esteem.
The Behaviour caused by Low Self Esteem varies greatly.
For example, some women tell us it causes them to take unwise risks (such as drinking too much) while others say they avoid risks to such an extent that they daren't try anything new (such as meeting new people or getting a better job) even if they would really like to.
Many women tell us they apologise too much.
Other women have told us that they find themselves focusing too much on their relationships, perhaps by compulsively picking arguments or expressing irrational jealousy about a loyal partner, or by clingyness. Some women over-focus on their appearance, push themselves to work punishing scedules, or allow people to treat them disrespectfully.
The Results of Low Self esteem; our negative beliefs can become a 'self fulfilling prophesy'.
Unfortunately the frustrating behaviour we adopt to compensate for our low opinion of ourselves has a way of creating the opposite of what we really need; it pushes well-meaning people away and can even attract people who miss-use us. Isolation or getting trapped in an abusive situation can result. Women can find themselves looking at a life that reflects back to them only a poor and distorted picture of themselves. At this point it is important not to suffer in silence but to break the 'vicious cycle'.
The good news is that Counselling really can help people learn to overcome Low Self Esteem.
It doesn't happen overnight, but it really is possible to change unhelpful negative views of ourselves into something more balanced and encouraging. We can develop more satisfying beliefs about our own capabilities and about the potential our lives hold for us. Close relationships can have more of a chance to develop and stay strong, and careers, social-life, and interests have a better chance to flourish.
Counselling can help people to change unhelpful beliefs about themselves, and change their unhelpful behaviour.
Over the last ten to fifteen years Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Psychologists have studied the undermining effects of the 'persistent inner critic' and how it can become so powerful. This has helped Therapists to form useful techniques and strategies for overcoming Low Self Esteem and developing what some Therapists call 'Healthy Self Esteem'.
We have looked at how low self esteem develops, whether from early experiences or from more recent events (or a from mixture of the two.) We have also looked at how low self esteem maintains itself by forming compensatory (and sometimes dysfunctional) 'rules' for how we should behave, and by giving rise to assumptions about what others think about us, and about what we believe their behaviour towards us 'really means'.
Womens Therapy Link Counsellors have also learned about what does not help women with low self-esteem.
Unfortunately it isn't as simple as just 'thinking possitively'. In fact, for some people, 'Possitive-Thinking' Self-Help techniques can sometimes make their lack of confidence worse. A balanced approach, with 'small steps' towards acheivable goals that slowly build into a more fulfilling life (both on the inside and on the outside) is generally more successful, and more likely to be maintained over time.
Learning to live with uncertainty is also an important part of overcoming persistent low self esteem.
We also focus on helping clients to develop healthy enjoyable activities, so that their lives become a mirror that reflects a better picture back.
Womens Therapy Link Counsellors help clients develop 'Healthy Self-Esteem' and learn new 'Life-Skills'.
In working with Low Self-Esteem, Womens Therapy Link Counsellors help clients to develop balanced and encouraging beliefs about themselves and their lives.
Our practitioners also encourage clients to try out different ways of doing things. We support women while they are in the process of developing new attitudes and behaviour. We teach 'Life Skills' to help women deal with the unavoidable uncertainties of life. We also teach 'Negotiation Skills' such as Non-Violent Communication or Assertiveness. We encourage clients to try out new beliefs and behaviour, in small ways at first, and then in more significant areas of their lives. (In some ways 'Healthy Self Esteem' is more of a verb than a noun; our self esteem becomes healthier through learning how to do things differently and through appreciating the results.) Self confidence also improves when people see that they can do more of the things they previously avoided or handled badly.
The details and outline of each persons' story varies greatly. Our Practitioners are trained to 'tune-in' to the individual factors that will help their clients find the most effective (and safest) ways of overcoming Low Self Esteem.
If you would like to ask us anything at all about how we work with Low Self-Esteem and Lack of Confidence, do not hesitate to contact us.
We will be happy to discuss this with you.
Our service is 'user-friendly' and completely confidential. To find out how we may be able to help you please call us on:
- 0114 266 0700 South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and Sheffield
- 0207 183 1171 Greater London and the Home Counties
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