If you suffer from low self-esteem, you know how deeply it affects your overall quality of life; your relationships, your work and your ability to be resilient and fulfilled. Plato said that the strongest factor in prosperity is self-esteem & confidence: believing you can do it, believing you deserve it, believing you will get it.
Self-esteem refers to how you think and feel about yourself. The more positive these thoughts and feelings are, the higher your self-esteem will be. Having a negative self-perception results in a distorted view of one’s self, which leads to further lack of self-confidence, poor performance, and even depression. With a positive self-identity, on the other hand, a person is able to set realistic expectations for oneself and pursue goals. Also, with healthy self esteem, individuals are able to have greater emotional intelligence and greater ability to deal with anger and other emotions. Personal growth requires insight, awareness and courage to ultimately act toward becoming a better person, a happy person with integrity and confidence.
If you are uncertain about yourself, lack self-confidence, doubt your ability, or think negatively of yourself, spiral2grow of New York can help you accept yourself, feel good about yourself, be more assertive, productive and successful, while taking control over your life and relationships.
spiral2grow, a leading provider in self esteem solutions in New York City, has professionals that include self esteem psychotherapists and self esteem counselors, who are expert in building self esteem and building confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven self esteem treatment and self esteem counseling in a variety of formats: individual self esteem psychotherapy, self esteem group and self esteem workshop. spiral2grow has practical tools to break the cycle of low self-esteem and creating more fulfilling relationships with yourself and others.
Self Esteem Overview
In psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent/incompetent”) and emotions (for example, triumph/despair, pride/shame). Behavior may reflect self-esteem (for example, assertiveness/passivity, confidence/caution).
Self-esteem is all about how much we feel valued, loved, accepted, and thought well of by others – and how much we value, love, and accept ourselves. People with healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. People with low self-esteem may feel as if no one will like them or accept them or that they can’t do well in anything.
We all experience problems with self-esteem at certain times in our lives – especially during our teens when we’re figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world. The good news is that, because everyone’s self-image changes over time, self-esteem is not fixed for life. So if you feel that your self-esteem isn’t all it could be, you can improve it.
Synonyms or near-synonyms of self-esteem include self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, self-love (which can express overtones of self-promotion), self-integrity. Self-esteem is distinct from self-confidence, which involves beliefs about ability and future performance.
Causes of Low Self Esteem
spiral2grow, a leading counseling provider in overcoming low self esteem solutions in NYC, has professionals that include self esteem psychotherapists and counselors, who are expert in building low self esteem and building confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers low self esteem treatment in a variety of formats: individual low self esteem, low self esteem group, classes and workshops.
How Low Self Esteem Manifests Itself
Low self esteem can be manifested in many ways. Below you can find a list of some of the ways low self esteem is expressed:
- Social anxiety and withdrawal
- Lack of self confidence
- Depression and anxiety
- Focusing on the negatives
- Inability to accept compliments
- Emotional turmoil and emotional roller coaster
- Extreme concern of what other people think of you
- Oversensitivity to criticism or disapproval, being sensitive, or excessive eagerness to please
- Avoid taking challenges, underperform and expect little out of life for yourself
- substance abuse problems (drinking excessively or using drugs, sex addiction etc.)
- Lack of healthy boundary and assertive behavior
- Judge others and oneself
- Driven by fear of failure
- Aim for perfectionism
General Causes of Low Self Esteem
Self esteem is a very general term and in order for us to treat low self-esteem, we must break it down into its components, identify and alleviate each patient’s low self-esteem components. In addition, low self-esteem is situation specific — no one has low self-esteem in every situation. A patient can experience severe low self-esteem in interpersonal situations, yet be perfectly confident in work situations. So we therapists must identify and treat each patient’s low self-esteem components in each specific situation. When you alleviate low self-esteem, many psychological problems will diminish substantially or disappear completely.
The main cause of self esteem is our experiences that have occurred earlier in our lives. The development of low self–esteem takes time. It takes a series of events and a chain of habitual behaviors to dampen the sense of personal worth. So, if these experiences happened long ago, why is it that we still see ourselves in a negative light today? After all, haven’t we had adult experiences that are quite different from the ones we had as children? Yet, we might still hear, in our minds, what our parents or other people had said to us years and years ago. We might hear ourselves saying things like “This is not good enough,” “You could have done better,” “You are so stupid.” These negative core beliefs are thoughts that are usually deep rooted, firmly held, and strongly ingrained in our minds. They are evaluations of ourselves and our worth or value as a person. These beliefs say, “This is the kind of person I am.”
Parents, teachers, and other authority figures influence the ideas we develop about ourselves – particularly when we are kids. If parents spend more time criticizing than praising a child, it can be harder for a kid to develop good self-esteem. Because teens are still forming their own values and beliefs, it’s easy to build self-image around what a parent, coach, or other person says.
Obviously, self-esteem can be damaged when someone whose acceptance is important (like a parent or teacher) constantly puts you down. But criticism doesn’t have to come from other people. Some individuals also have an “inner critic,” a voice inside that seems to find fault with everything they do. Also, people sometimes unintentionally model their inner voice after a critical parent or someone else whose opinion is important to them.
The key qualities contributing to positive self-esteem appear to be approval and acceptance. The following are some negative experiences that might contribute to low self-esteem:
- Punishment, neglect, or abuse
- Difficulty in meeting parents’ standards
- Not fitting in at home or at school
- Difficulty in meeting peer group standards
- Being on the receiving end of other people’s stress or distress
- Family conflict and breakdown
- Your family’s place in society
- An absence of positives
Overcoming low self esteem requires self acceptance. Self-acceptance means recognizing your strength and weaknesses; enjoying your strengths and successes, while being comfortable with, and not “beating” yourself for weaknesses, mistakes, and failures. Self-acceptance does not mean not trying to do better and be better. Individuals can accept themselves as they are right now and still strive to become more competent and successful in the future.
Finally, close and loving relationships with others later in life do contribute positively to self-esteem. It is challenging to form and sustain successful relationships when self esteem is low, but with gradual change of thoughts and habits, along with supportive environment and guidance, individual can develop a healthy and happy relationships.
Six Pillars of Self Confidence
Nathaniel Branden is a well-known psychiatrist and expert in the area of self esteem. In his great book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden talks about the importance of Self-Acceptance. He wrote: “As a psychotherapist I see nothing does as much for an individual’s self-esteem as becoming aware of and accepting disowned parts of the self. The first steps of healing and growth are awareness and acceptance – consciousness and integration.”
And Branden also reminds us that it’s not just our darkness, but our light that can frighten us: “We can run not only from our dark side but also from our bright side from anything that threatens to make us stand out or stand alone, or that calls for the awakening of the hero within us, or that asks that we break through to a higher level of consciousness and reach a higher ground of integrity. The greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we may deny or disown our shortcomings but that we deny and disown our greatness—because it frightens us. If a fully realized self-acceptance does not evade the worst within us, neither does it evade the best.”
From his book “Six Pillars of Self Esteem” I pulled out a few of the many constructive ideas that can immediately be applied in our lives and establish healthy self esteem and confidence:
Living consciously is living mindfully. It is a mental practice that encourages individuals to consciously engage their mental faculty as they go about their days. It is about being open to things around us while living in the present and constantly seeking out knowledge and experience. As your awareness increases, so your peace of mind, tranquility and joy increase too.
We can run not only from our dark side but also from our bright side. We can run from what we fear or what awakes the hero within us to face our fear and break through to a higher level of consciousness and reach a higher ground of integrity. Branden added that we may deny or disown our shortcomings, but even worse is when we deny and disown our greatness – because it frightens us.In addition to the acceptance of our bright side, he strongly recommends that we become aware of and accept disowned parts of ourselves. The first steps of healing and growth are awareness and acceptance; consciousness and integration. These elements are the key for an individual’s self-esteem.
So, accept yourself with your strengths as well as your weaknesses and aspire to integrate all your parts to enhance your “United Self.”
“I am responsible for my choices and actions,” Branden writes. To be “responsible” in this context means responsible not as the recipient of moral blame or guilt, but responsible as the creator and chief driving force in our life and behavior.At the heart of personal responsibility is the ability to own up to the fact that you are in control of your life. You are responsible for your feelings, thoughts or actions as well as your successes and failures. Own your choices and actions and be conscious of what you are doing and how it affects those around you.We are responsible when we are able to respond to life’s challenges as healthy, independent human beings, without blame and sense of victimization. We recognize our ability to manifest our desires as we engage in life.So, give yourself permission to think and do what you wish but accept the responsibilities and consequences of your actions.
Branden explains that to live purposefully is to use our power toward reaching our goals: the goal of learning, of building a career, of creating a family, of starting a new business, of solving a technical problem, of sustaining a happy intimate relationship. It is our goals that move us forward, that motivate our being and energize our existence to have a more fulfilling life.If we are able to define what we are passionate about?.what deeply inspires or motivates us, what our vision is, what our goals are, what is that we want and what we must do, then we can create our purpose as well as the plan toward reaching it.So, live life with a purpose, identify your goals and plan your work toward achieving them.
To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from your innermost convictions and feelings, while respecting others. Assertiveness is a way of life. If it is in your personal or your professional life, being assertive can help you build and maintain self confidence in all situations.So, stand up for yourself and be authentic and assertive. Live in reality and never be untrue to yourself. In other words, practice self-assertiveness.
Personal integrity means to live your life with principles of behavior to which you remain loyal. Living with integrity brings wholeness and peace. When you live with integrity, you influence, inspire and motivate others; not just with your words but mainly with your actions.Are your ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs and behavior all aligned? And, perhaps even more important, do you have a sense of what your ideals, convictions, standards and beliefs are so you can use them as a basis for measuring how you are doing? It is important to answer these questions if you want to live life with integrity.Without practicing personal integrity, the preceding practices disintegrate. Branden writes “Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs and ultimately behavior. When our behavior is congruent with our values, when ideals and practice match up, we have integrity. So, live by your own truth, speak the truth and live by that. Be fair and treat others fairly and respectfully.
Practice Makes Perfect
By acting we build our self esteem and by acting consistently we become disciplined and practice healthy self confidence. For the best practice, Daniel Branden suggests the small step approach. He said that Small Improvements make a difference and lead to Big Results.
spiral2grow is a leading counseling practice in NYC that offers skills to build healthy self esteem and self acceptance. Our counselors and therapists in New York City specialize in promoting self acceptance and enhancing self esteem and confidence. We recognize the importance of acquiring self acceptance which is the main factor in having a healthy relationships with yourself and others while practicing happiness and fulfilling life.
The foundation of healthy self-esteem is realization that who you are and where you are is OK. People sometimes imagine that if they had high self-esteem that they would feel really confident, happy and excited all the time, but in reality it really feels more like a deep, solid level of comfort with yourself. You feel stable and anchored with your true self. When you have healthy self esteem, you are aware of your personality traits and quirks, and your strengths and weaknesses, and are fine with the overall package they add up to. In other words, you fully accept yourself. As such, self acceptance is a great measure of self-esteem and defines the quality of your life.
The Meaning of Self Acceptance
Self-acceptance means setting realistic standards for yourself and letting go of perfectionism. Self-acceptance also entails being nice and compassionate to yourself. It means being on your own side. If you make an error you can look at it with an understanding eye, rather than tearing yourself up. It also means that you accept that all people make mistakes and aren’t perfect. You understand that it is ok to have flaws and to get things wrong from time to time and it’s not a sign of being useless or “bad.”
On the opposite spectrum, people who don’t have self-acceptance tend to seek outside source of confirmation for who they are and crave admiration and approval. They think they’ll be confident once they make more money; become more powerful; get more people to like them, etc. However, even when they rich their goals or earn the things they desire, they only feel good about themselves for a short amount of time before they set their sights even higher. Unfortunately, they are not able to stay with their success and internalize it into their deep self to expand their self esteem.
Self acceptance does not mean you approve of what you do wrong, or embrace all your flaws. However, if you do make a mistake from time to time, it’s okay, and you don’t need to disown your entire self. You can be self-accepting while still acknowledging there are areas you’d benefit from working on. You can accept where you are and feel ok with it, yet know that there is always room for improvement.
You can accept yourself and also have goals to improve yourself. The main point is that you realize the benefit of growing and the changes you make in your life rather than doing something you feel you have to do. You establish a compassionate, accepting and positive perspective of you current self with the recognition of your desire growth to become a better self.
Self-acceptance and self-confidence are closely related concepts. One follows the other. Being able to accept yourself as you are without demanding that you be different establishes the foundation for confidence in your own abilities. With the confidence, you will then be able to try new behaviors, take risks and be in charge of your own life. This in turn, makes you far less susceptible to negative peer group influence and also makes you deal constructively with situations that don’t turn to be in your favor.
Ways to Build Confidence
To build your confidence, you must enhance your internal strength and psychological freedom. As such, you must focus on building your character and self resiliency and ability, rather than allowing your externals constrains to limit or control you. This ability would lead you to become more durable and flexible while providing you with more fulfilling life.
There are many known ways to improve one’s self-esteem. To boost one’s confidence, it may be helpful to practice the following self-improvement techniques and strategies:
- Refuting the inner critic that keeps on sending self-defeating messages;
- Practicing the art of self nurturing; and
- Getting much-needed help and support from people who are close to you.
The first and the most important step to increase self esteem is to tell the inner voice to shut up. The inner voice might say negatively about you. In such a situation you must praise yourself. Rebutting the inner voice that keeps on criticizing you should be done on a regular basis. However this step is not enough to develop self-esteem. The second step that one must initiate on a way to a healthy self-esteem is that a person should nurture himself. The most important part of this step is start treating yourself as a person who is worth while. In addition, seek out people who make you feel good. Remember that you get to choose your friends so why not choose people who think you’re great?
Also, our belief system, thoughts and expectations about a person or event or situation influence the way we feel. The feelings are not the result of or inherent in of the situation itself. Others do not cause our feelings. By having certain way of thinking, we cause ourselves to feel in a certain way.This knowledge means that we have some control of our feelings, much like we have control over other choices we make in our life. That also means that counseling, particularly CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) that focuses on helping individuals change their dysfunctional thinking, that causes them so much distress and suffering in their lives, can be very effective.
More Steps to Improve Self-Esteem
The importance of a healthy self esteem cannot be underestimated. It is the foundation of your existence and central to everything you do. It is important because it impacts the quality of your life and the choices you make.
Individuals who are committed to improve their self esteem are also people who are motivated to take care of themselves and to consistently strive towards creating their best self. It is a self that creates goals and aspirations to reach fulfillment and happiness.
People with healthy self-esteem tend to regard themselves as worthy of positives and capable of achieving goals while being resilient when face with challenges and adversity.
Your self-value is the source of your mental health and affects your behavior and thoughts as well as how you feel about yourself, which in turn manifested by your well-being and confidence.
If you want to improve your self-esteem, here are some steps to start empowering yourself:
Stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. Focus on your positives and in general have a “half glass full” attitude.” If you’re used to focusing on your shortcomings, start thinking about positive aspects of yourself that outweigh them. When you catch yourself being too critical, counter it by saying something positive about yourself. Each day, write down three things about yourself that make you happy.
Aim for accomplishments rather than perfection. Some people become paralyzed by perfection. Instead of holding yourself back with thoughts like, “I won’t audition for the play until I lose 10 pounds,” think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy, and go for it. Also, the more you experience, the better you become
View mistakes as learning opportunities. Accept that you will make mistakes because everyone does. Mistakes are part of learning. Remind yourself that a person’s talents and skills are constantly developing, and everyone excels at different things and at different times — it’s what makes people unique and interesting.
Try new things. Experiment with different activities that will help you get in touch with your talents. Do one thing differently each day. Then take pride in new skills you develop. Also, by trying new things, you train your mind to break negative habits and adapt new ones.
Recognize what you can change and what you can’t change. Adapt the serenity prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” by Reinhold Niebuhr. If you realize that you’re unhappy with something about yourself that you can change, then start today. If it’s something you can’t change (like your height), then start to work toward loving yourself the way you are.
Set goals. Think about what you’d like to accomplish, then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan and keep track of your progress.
Take baby steps. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It is much easier to start small that try to quickly rush to do big thing. Think long term and be patient
Take pride in your opinions and ideas. Don’t be afraid to voice your personal thoughts and have the courage to trust yourself.
Make a contribution. Tutor a classmate who’s having trouble, help clean up your neighborhood, participate in a walk-a-thon for a good cause, or volunteer your time in some other way. Feeling like you’re making a difference and that your help is valued can do wonders to improve self-esteem.
Exercise! You’ll relieve stress, and be healthier and happier. Physical exercise is the best anti-depresant
Have fun. Ever found yourself thinking stuff like “I’d have more friends if I were thinner”? Enjoy spending time with the people you care about and doing the things you love. Relax and have a good time – and avoid putting your life on hold.
It’s never too late to build healthy, positive self-esteem. In some cases where the emotional hurt is deep or long lasting, it can take the help of a mental health professional, like a counselor or therapist. These experts can act as a guide, helping people learn to love themselves and realize what’s unique and special about them.
Self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do. People with high self-esteem do better in school and find it easier to make friends. They tend to have better relationships with peers and adults, feel happier, find it easier to deal with mistakes, disappointments, and failures, and are more likely to stick with something until they succeed. It takes some work, but it’s a skill you’ll have for life.
Improving your self-esteem, self-image, or self value, like any other skills, takes practice and patience. It involves courage, facing your fear, while having optimistic and positive (yet realistic) attitude toward yourself and the world around you.
By working from the inside out (focusing on changing your own way of thinking before changing others or the circumstances around you), you can build your self-esteem.
When you see yourself honestly and accept yourself, you will be able to remove your internal barriers that can keep you from doing your best.
Self Esteem Help and Counseling
Both personal psychotherapy and group counseling can help improve self-esteem. Such therapy might include assertiveness training, communication skills, and learning to recognize and understand own emotional responses in relation to others. Therapy may also explore early and later experiences that contributed to your low self-esteem. Group Therapy is particularly effective that it helps to foster trust and build relationships, and encourages a sense of belonging-components that are important for building self esteem. spiral2grow of New York provides Individual counseling and croup counseling that assist people getting their life under self–control and to feel more productive and successful.
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Self Esteem and Confidence Group
If you are uncertain about yourself, lack self-confidence, doubts your abilities, or thinks negatively of yourself, this program might be helpful for you. The group sessions focus on the causes and cures for problems such as low self esteem and confidence, feeling of inferiority, perfectionism and procrastination. Participants learn the impacts of low self esteem might have on a person and their life, and learn specific skills to overcome self-esteem and emotional issues. The goal of the group therapy program is to increase insight and self-understanding and develop self-esteem and self confidence. It teaches skills that enhance self-confidence, be more engaging and promote greater joy in daily living.
The group is a supportive system and a powerful way to learn from others’ challenges as you challenged and gain healing and growth. The group meetings, where people like yourself gather to share their struggles, stories and experiences are a healthy way to create a supportive environment that is conducive to gain new insights and skills to become the best person you can be. Join a group and let the collective wisdom of other people to inform your confidence and gain greater control over your life.
The following are few of the goals and skills provided in Self Esteem and Confidence Group:
- Improve self-esteem and confidence – Accept yourself (self acceptance)
- Identify and deal with personal emotional blocks and limitations
- Have the courage to do new things and experience life to its fullest
- Develop a winning attitude and achieve your potential
- Act courageous in stressful or intense situations
- Master your thoughts, feelings and actions
- Overcome social fear, anxiety and shyness
- Gain inner comfort and project confidence
- Improve social/interpersonal skills/style
- Avoid procrastination and avoid perfectionism
- Take control over your life & relationships
- Attract partner and build healthy relationships
- Let go of patterns that pull you down
- Become assertive – Think win-win
- Set, pursue and attain your goals
- Set healthy boundaries
Self Esteem and Confidence Workshop
If you are uncertain about yourself, lack self-confidence, doubts your abilities, or thinks negatively of yourself, this workshop might be helpful for you. The session focuses on the causes and cures for problems such as low self esteem, feeling of inferiority, perfectionism and procrastination. Participants learn the impacts of low self esteem might have on a person and their life, and learn specific skills to overcome self-esteem and emotional issues.
The self-esteem workshop is an exciting and thought provoking presentation on how to develop your self-esteem and maximize your potential. The goal of the workshop is to increase self-understanding & self-esteem. It teaches skills that enhance self-confidence and promote greater joy in daily living.