WHY Don’s I Like My Self?
For the last several years, countless women have sat in my office saying and believing the worst possible things about themselves. Some common statements I hear are:
“My English is not too good. My husband always make fun of it.”
“I want to lose weight, I’m too fat.”
“I can’t seem to make a decision about anything, I don’t trust myself anymore.”
- Often, the women who come to see me are intelligent, attractive, and caring. I wonder, how did they decide these things about themselves?
- What is it that makes it hard for them to believe good things about themselves?
- What would it be like if they liked and accepted themselves regardless of their body size, skin color, or accent?
There are many articles handbooks on the topic of self-esteem. A simple definition, taken from www.kidshealth.org, defines self esteems “how much you value yourself.” Where do we learn to value ourselves? Many times, we model what we see and experience in our homes. Children are not born learning to believe negative things about themselves. They often learn negative messages from their environment, specifically from family, peers, teachers, and others. For example, a child may learn she is “fat” and needs to lose weight. As an adult, this idea of not being good enough or “skinny enough” may persist, despite outwardly appearing to be thin.
Experiences during adulthood also impact our self-esteem. For example, individuals facing abuse may hear negative comment son a daily basis.
Comments like “You can’t do anything right,” “I wish I had never married you,” and “You won’t be able to find a job.” Overtime, being put down, insulted, and yelled at will affect one’s self-image. After constantly hearing negative and abusive comments, we may start to believe the worst about ourselves. We may develop our own inner critic who makes harsh comments and judgments.
A negative inner critic may also develop related to finances and career. Someone who always had enough money may come to this country and face many financial struggles. She may need to take a job that previously wouldn’t have been considered. Over time, negative thoughts can develop about not being good enough. What this person doesn’t see is that they are working very hard to support themselves and their family.
There are many ways to explore self-esteem and self-worth, although all too often we don’t make the time to focus on ourselves. We may have partners/spouses, jobs, children, and other matters which require our focus. There is also a misconception that if I love myself, then I’m being vain, selfish, or self-centered. If you are having this thought, I’m guessing you are far from vain and selfish.
I find that once I truly accept EXPLORING SELF ESTEEM Rita Patel Garcia Experiences during adulthood also impact our selfes teem. For example, individuals facing abuse may hear negative comment son a daily basis. and value something about myself, others around me also benefit. I may be happier and less worried. I can make time to focus on other things which matter to me. My children may see a role model who believes in herself/himself.
Some questions to consider when examining your self-image:•
What positive and negative messages did I get about myself as a child, teen, and adult?
• Are there ways in which I continue to believe the negative comments people make or have made about me?
• When and how did I decide Was not smart, attractive, talented, or good enough?
• How does society (including the magazines I read and television shows I watch) stereotype how I should look or feel?
There are many ways to improve one’s self image and self esteem. One way is to confront and change the negative messages you tell yourself. Instead of telling yourself you’re sure to mess up and fail the driver’s exam, try saying, “I’m going to do the best Ican today. Even if I don’t pass, it doesn’t mean that I’m not smart or good enough. I am doing the best I can.” Another way to improve self-esteem is to surround yourself with individuals who will remind you of your positive qualities and not just criticize you. When feeling low, ask someone you trust what she likes about you. There are many ways to improve one’s self-image and self-esteem. One way is to confront and change the negative messages you tell yourself.
Just as negative self-esteem is learned, positive self-esteem can also be learned. Change in self-images possible through focus and some work. Good luck in your journey to self-acceptance.
Rita Patel Garcia, LCSW, is a licensed therapist practicing in Georgia. She provides counseling for children, adolescents, and adults. Rita works with avariety of concerns in cludinganxiety, depression, abuse, divorce/separation, grief, and stress management. Her work is holistic and integrates both eastern and western methods. Please send your comments.
There are many ways to improve one’s self-image and self esteem. One way is to confront and change the negative messages you tell yourself.