How to improve self-esteem? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 04-25-2011, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've never had good self-esteem, though because I'm pretty confident, I don't know that I really fully recognized it until now?? Even though many people have commented on it throughout my life...

I was the type of kid that would be disappointed in myself if I scored a 95 on a test. If I cook a meal and use a fraction too much salt or just a tad too little garlic, I feel really annoyed with myself. My own typos drive me insane. I over-analyze every conversation I have, thinking I probably said something inaccurate or offensive or irritating.

I do feel that I can do/be anything I want or need to but I don't feel like I'll ever be happy with the results.

I grew up hearing a lot of criticism disguised as support. I don't even know how to explain that... usually criticism sounds just like what it is, right??? Weird... but I think I've really internalized it & adopted this kind of inner voice that subtly disparages everything I say or do. And I just have this inner feeling of, I will never be good enough, I'm not a valuable member of my family/friendships/society...

I am not able to do those exercises where you look in the mirror and tell yourself wonderful things about yourself. I just can't do it.

I would like to be happier with myself because I think it is affecting me in other ways (in my marriage, for example, I think I am looking for external validation because I don't feel any internally?)

So how do you change ~30 years of low self-esteem???

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#2 of 12 Old 04-25-2011, 11:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I grew up hearing a lot of criticism disguised as support. I don't even know how to explain that... usually criticism sounds just like what it is, right??? Weird... but I think I've really internalized it & adopted this kind of inner voice that subtly disparages everything I say or do. And I just have this inner feeling of, I will never be good enough, I'm not a valuable member of my family/friendships/society...
 

I totally understand what you mean. My father had this way of sorting saying something nice while making a nasty comment. My mother's way was even more subtle. It's taken me years of being away from them to really find out how nasty they are.

 

And their nasty voices are on tracks in my head! yikes2.gif

 

I know that you said that you can't talk to yourself in the mirror, and there is a little of that in this series, but there is a lot of other stuff too. May be if you do the parts you can, the more difficult parts with be easier later.  This is a set of clips by Louise Hay on learning to love yourself. :

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjntHE4LJCQ

 

I also highly recommend therapy. Self help books are great (my all time favorite one is You Can Heal Your Life) and chats are nice, but building a relationship with a professional can take to to another level.
 

Peace.


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#3 of 12 Old 04-26-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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lurk.gif

I don't really have advice as I suffer from the same issue. 

 

However, I did just read something interesting. I think it was in Scientific American,but not sure. Anyway, it said that those affirmations often do not work well for people with low self-esteem. That really rang true for me, and it sounds like it's been so for you. Something about emphasizing what you already feel bad about or seeming hollow or...I can't remember exactly. Just wanted to share so you could mark that off your list of things you should do and cut yourself some slack for that not working. 

 

Hope you get some great responses!


Mom to 11 y.o. lawyer, 9 y.o. actor, and 4 y.o. pilot. I believe 'em on those, too!

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#4 of 12 Old 04-26-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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Anyway, it said that those affirmations often do not work well for people with low self-esteem. That really rang true for me, and it sounds like it's been so for you. Something about emphasizing what you already feel bad about or seeming hollow or...I can't remember exactly.


I think that it's helpful to write your affirmations in words that are believable *to you.*  It's true that if they are just so far out there that every time you look at it you think about how NOT true it is, that it will emphasize what you don't like. It's possible to phrase them in soft language, though. For example, "I am willing to learn to love myself" is a very softly phrased.

 

"I am worthy of love just because I exist" is a favorite of mine (I believe that is true for everyone, so saying it is true for *me* isn't that much of a stretch). So is "I am now ready to learn how to get my life exactly right."  It doesn't imply that I actually have my sh*t together at all, just that I'm ready to learn. It seems very believable.

 

It's also possible to buy affirmations on subliminal CDs so that your conscious mind can't get in the way. You conscious mind only hears soft music, but your subconscious keep hearing the wonderful affirmations over and over, bathing in brain in what your parents didn't give you as a child.

 

 


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#5 of 12 Old 04-28-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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I suffer from the same thing. I've tried hard over the years and I feel like at times I feel pretty good about myself, but then somehow I always sink back down into the crappy-feeling, negative-self-talking person. I too tried the affirmations (for like a week eyesroll.gif) and I guess I just kind of gave up.

Linda - What cds have you found to be good for daily affirmations? I have one from Louise Hay but it has a lot of other talk in it that drives me nuts and I can't skip around on my i-pod very well (especially on the treadmill winky.gif).

It seems like for me, it takes a whole ton of effort to feel better and I have to keep that momentum going...forever?? I don't have that kind of energy greensad.gif. I think the next thing I"m going to try is cognitive behavior therapy.

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#6 of 12 Old 04-28-2011, 08:56 PM
 
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Growing my knowledge or skills on a thing is a good self esteem booster for me.  I listen to organic gardening videos back to back on a playlist via Youtube.com really loudly while cleaning.  I also have a cd set for a language that I'm learning now.  I put that cd set very loud while I'm doing laundry or cooking or dishes or whatever.  Over and over and over and over...

 

I do practice yoga b'c I just like how yoga feels to me, and I connect with the day to day affirmation stuff, but, I find that I gain tangible self esteem when I learn something or have a new skill in my set.  And the tangible knowledge or skills are generally the things that have me feeling more accomplished and better about myself.


"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#7 of 12 Old 04-28-2011, 09:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by applecider View Post

I think the next thing I"m going to try is cognitive behavior therapy.


CBT is wonderful! I think that's a great idea.

 

The affirmation CD that I like is this one:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Self-Esteem-Affirmations-Louise-Hay/dp/1561705322/ref=pd_sim_b_1

 

She also has a daily meditation CD that I like:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Morning-Evening-Meditations-Louise-Hay/dp/1401901409
 

The difference is that the Meditations has two longer tracks (like 30 minutes each) that walk you through feeling gratitude, forgiveness, etc. For a while, I had them loaded on my iPod and listened to the evening meditation every night while falling asleep, and the morning meditation every morning while taking my walk. Doing that for a couple of months deeply pivoted my thinking.

 

The affirmation CD has two main tracks. One has all the affirmations so that you can hear them, and the other has them subliminally over laid with soft music. These are just focused on self-esteem. I'm not sure how well it would work with the treadmill because it's really mellow.

 

As far as the "will I have to work at this forever question,"  I'm not sure if I'm a success story or not! I feel best when I take time every day for myself. Meditating is part of my routine, as is practicing yoga nearly every day. If I stop doing those things, I go back to feeling crappy about myself and being depressed. However, I really enjoy doing them. It takes effort, but it isn't work. It's like someone figuring out what sort of diet really works for them, but the really like all the food on it. Yes, I have to stick with it to keep the benefits, but I enjoy what I'm doing.

 

I think that part of the problem in dealing with really low self esteem is that it goes against our grain to care for ourselves because we don't feel we deserve it. That's the first hump -- just to decide that we matter enough to be worth the effort. Different things will work for each of us, but deciding that we actually matter enough to figure out what works for us can be a challenge. Sticking with it when we feel like it is just one more thing that we aren't doing perfectly, or that there is something wrong with us because we need to do these things is difficult because we already have low self esteem!

 

Another idea -- make your own play list of uplifting songs you love. I have a mellow one for yoga with songs like Beautiful by Christina Aguilera, Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson, Little Wonders by Rob Thomas, etc. I think we can brain wash ourselves this way!


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#8 of 12 Old 05-04-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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Crunchy Mommy, I could have written your post myself. And I almost didn't reply because I felt like nothing I have to say would be helpful...ugh! But I'm making myself do it. 

 

I don't find self-help and affirmations to be helpful to me and boost my self-esteem. If I say something nice to myself I know I'm just faking it.

 

I find that I feel the worst about my self-worth, value, and abilities is when I am most self-focused and isolated. The thing that is most helpful to me is to get out and help someone else. Contribute to some person or cause that needs help. Do some yardwork for an elderly neighbor, foster some kittens, volunteer in your community, participate in a 5k or walk for charity, etc (exercise always boosts my mood, in any case). When I can get my focus onto something other than my own weaknesses and see the struggles other's are going through, my own start to diminish in importance. Also, each experience of contributing to someone else builds a basis for self-value, that is, you can really see that your contributions and efforts (even if imperfect) make a difference and have value.

 

And know that other people don't notice or care half as much as we do about our imperfections. They have their own, too, and we don't get all down on them for it. If we're over at a friends house and the food is a tad too garlicy we don't think less of them, we're just enjoying the company. If you get a letter from a friend and it has a typo, we're just glad to get a letter from a friend (how thoughtful!). We can give this same consideration to ourselves. It is people and relationships that are really important.   

 

This is a big thing that I've been dealing with directly for about a year, after a lifetime of being subject to it. And I can say it is getting better. I wish you the best.    

 

  

 

 


Wife to my best friend, a hardworking mountain man, and mom to a sweet little girl (7/10) and a spastic kitty, currently living far from the mountains.
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#9 of 12 Old 05-04-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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Thought of this thread the other day when I heard this idea... since replacing negative thought patterns is difficult for many people, try replacing them with a HOW challenge.  Ex:

 

"I'm at a no-where place in life, I've been so useless lately and I feel like I could slip under a rock and no one would notice, unless they needed clean laundry!.  I'm really sad and frustrated with myself for not being more dynamic."

 

And replace that thought with:

"How can I make my days more dynamic?  What can I add to my daily schedule or routine that could make my life feel more inviting and energizing for me?  What things in my past did I used to love doing, that made me feel useful or empowered, that I could start doing again and improve my joy?"

 

I tried it for the past few days and it does get my mind in a place of idea-generating.  So, I thought I'd share!  Sometimes trying to make myself believe a positive thought is hard for me too, even if I want to believe it so much.  I still try to do that too, though.


"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#10 of 12 Old 05-04-2011, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the ideas!! I think I am just kind of dealing with a lot and overwhelmed with life in general right now. I think being more productive (for my own/my family's sake as well as volunteer work etc.) would help a ton but it would be a huge struggle right now so I'll have to find something small to start with. I need to listen to more uplifting music and stuff like that. Bottom line, I don't really have the ability to take care of myself right now (I posted the OP when I was feeling unusually strong, I'm not sure if I can follow through on all this right now)... but at least I have some ideas to work with...

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#11 of 12 Old 05-07-2011, 08:25 AM
 
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I have been thinking about this alot myself. One thing I am telling myself is that I am still young (30-ish) to CHANGE what I don;t like about myself. Sure I have had to accept some things. Such as, as a kid I hated my ears, I though they stuck out. Well, I'm certainly not going to get plastic surgery, so at some point I really did accept my ears and have not given them a second thought for years. But I can change other things that I criticize myself about, such as my weight, feelings towards some relatives, etc. Now, if I was say, 65 and I still did not like my MIL, they I would probably just have to accept that and move on, rather than try to work on that relationship. 

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#12 of 12 Old 05-07-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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 But I can change other things that I criticize myself about, such as my weight,


 

I don't think there is any correlation between one's weight and how much one loves one's self. Lots of thin women hate themselves and believe their bodies are disgusting. I believe that one of the best things we can do for ourselves as women is to bless our bodies and send them gratitude, to treat them as a temple for our souls, to appreciate that our body is what lets us be alive and experience so many wonderful things.

 

If you wait to stop criticizing yourself until you think you are perfect, you will spend your life trying really hard to be OK and always feeling like there is just one more thing you need to *fix* before you can let it go, relax, and just enjoying being yourself.

 

My advice is to do it the other way around. Love your body, exactly the way it is. Find ways that you love moving in your body -- enjoy the feel of water against your skin as your swim, or do some yoga and just enjoy breathing in a different position. Go for a hike in beautiful woods, and notice what is in bloom. Take time to feed your body wonderful food because you love your body and want to take care of it. But treat it with kindness and gentleness and appreciation.

 

Send every cell in your body love.

 

When you do this, some of the excess weight may leave you because you won't need it any more as an excuse to hate yourself. The hate is the problem, the weight is just a symptom.

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