Counseling Austin Blog

Self Esteem

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Self-love is not selfish!

  • Struggling with feelings of worthlessness? Like you just don’t matter to anybody, including yourself?
  • Noticing that you have been more negative about how you experience others?
  • Feeling less empowered? Almost as if there isn’t enough of ‘you’ to go around?
  • Are you feeling depressed and/or anxious?

Along with optimism, self-esteem can be practiced and improved. Moving towards what we do want, instead of only away from what we don’t, we can see how the brain wants us to go forward, moving towards our goals.

Self esteem is a trait that describes how people feel about themselves.  With healthy self esteem, people tend to be more resilient (able to bounce back from challenges), and happier. On the other hand, when people don’t like themselves, and/or believe that others do not like them, they tend to have difficulty overcoming difficulty; even their immune system may suffer. Low self esteem can be both a symptom of other conditions like Depression and Anxiety or the cause of those conditions.

Fortunately, we can practice self esteem and learn to feel better. It is normal to feel overwhelmed with this idea in the beginning. This is why we focus on the here-and-now and work with what is attainable in the short-term. As time goes on, and as you continue to work on it, self esteem can improve to the point that you feel like a new person.

Learning self-esteem

Beginning with simply being genuine about your feelings of self-worth,
begin to realize that these feelings are real and should be dealt
with; however, they are not permanent and not necessarily accurate,
given your other strengths (example, you took the step to read this
page–this is already an action towards improving your situation,
thus you do in fact have more power than you may realize at the moment).
Genuineness often means that you meditate on the genuine strengths
you also possess rather than only being genuinely aware of the areas
for growth. A balance between the two is crucial–awareness
of what you do in fact need to work on, and awareness of the
strengths and skills you possess to work on them with.

Using your genuine assessment of strengths and areas for growth, you can
move on to increase your awareness of opportunities to practice
and build your foundation of self esteem. In any given moment, strive
to be aware of what you bring to the moment. . . if you find that
it does not feel helpful, then gently notice the feeling, then actively
do something that you believe may help–even if only a little bit,
for just a little while. Remember, once you notice a pattern, you
can do something to change it. This is one of the most important steps
in building self esteem, as, without self-awareness, we
cannot possibly begin to take thoughtful action to change. Once you
begin to make the changes you choose, maintain awareness of the results–again,
no matter how small. If the action helps, then do it again and build
on it. If it does not, or if things become worse, then rather than
beating yourself up for that, strive to see this as useful information
in that you know what not to do next time.

As always, trust your ability to act. This is much easier said than
done when dealing with issues of self esteem, depression, or anxiety.
Developing your awareness through silent meditation will help (see
exercises on meditation). Remember that you are already closer
than when you began your journey. It is not only the results of action
that carries weight–it is the intention behind the action that makes
any result useful. When you are aware that you trust yourself
to act in a way that is helpful, the act itself becomes secondary (obviously,
this does not mean to choose unhealthy actions to further your development!).
The intention of your action is what will operate at deeper levels of awareness
that you may, or may not yet be completely aware of.

Have a little compassion for yourself! You certainly deserve the same
courtesy that you no doubt offer to others! I often find that those who
struggle with self esteem are often some of the most understanding, compassionate
people around as they are hyper-aware of what it is like to feel bad.
When you begin to allow yourself to care for yourself, a new door opens
that may have been previously unnoticed. The struggle for self-compassion
is that most people with self esteem issues believe that it is selfish
to focus on healing the self. In fact, the best thing you can do for others
is to care for yourself. Self-compassion is a concept that allows you to become
more fully present at any given moment with another as you are not as distracted
by the constant barrage of internal dialogue and questioning of your abilities.
Again, when you give to yourself, there is more of you to go around to

Which brings us to having compassion for others. When you begin to realize
that many people struggle with some form of self-questioning, you can model
for them through your actions how to remedy their own situations. Remember
for a moment the last time you helped another person . . . how did it feel?

You will be more likely to be in a place to offer this help if you honestly
address your own issues in a way that enhances your own life first. Self-Love is not selfish.

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