to help yourself
A woman hates to stand in line in the grocery store because she's afraid that everyone is watching her. She knows that it's not really true, but she can't shake the feeling. Now, she has to talk to the person who's checking out her groceries. She tries to smile, but her voice comes out weakly. She's sure she's making a fool of herself. Her self-
Another person sits in front of the telephone and agonises because she's afraid to pick up the receiver and make a call. She's even afraid to call an unknown person in a business office about the electric bill because she's afraid she'll be "putting someone out" or she will be calling at the wrong time, and they will be upset with her. It's very hard for her to take rejection, even over the phone, even from someone she doesn't know. She feels rejected even before she makes the call. Once the call is made and over, she sits, analyses, and ruminates about what was said, what tone it was said in, and how she was perceived by the other person....her anxiety and racing thoughts concerning the call prove to her that she "messed" this conversation up, too, just like she always does. Sometimes she gets embarrassed just thinking about the call.
A man finds it difficult to walk down the street because he's self-
A man hates to go to work because a meeting is scheduled the next day. He knows that these meetings always involve co-
Another young man wants to go to parties and other social events, indeed, he is very, very lonely, but he never goes anywhere because he's very nervous about meeting new people. Too many people will be there and crowds only make things worse for him. The thought of meeting new people scares him, will he know what to say? Will they stare at him and make him feel even more insignificant? Will they reject him outright? Even if they seem nice, they're sure to notice his frozen look and his inability to fully smile. They'll sense his discomfort and tenseness and they won't like him -
In public places, such as work, meetings, or shopping, people with low self-
There are two basic low self esteem responses, some people stay in one of these two positions, others vacillate between the two:
1. Feeling down on yourself
feeling overwhelmed by the pace of life
feeling like a failure relative to everyone else
constantly doubting whether you can achieve anything
staying where it's safe, being afraid to try anything too new
behaving timidly and cannot assert yourself
overly depending on others to look after you
finding ways of escaping unpleasant realities
putting little effort into things because you doubt you can be successful
putting yourself down constantly
2. Feeling angry and getting even
losing your temper at the drop of a hat
being quick to pick a fight
blaming others or circumstances for every setback
constantly finding fault with the world
taking pleasure in stories about the troubles of others
taking things out on others
constantly arguing about petty issues
How to Treat Low Self-
How you feel about yourself depends on who you compare yourself with. We make the mistake of comparing how we feel with how others behave. Inevitably, most others will behave more happily than we feel, so we conclude that no one else could feel as bad as we do. This creates a vicious circle and our self esteem then drops even lower.
Healthy self esteem means thinking as highly of yourself as you think of your peers
Excessive self esteem = grandiosity, like too much organization = obsessiveness.
High self esteem is compatible with humility
Humility is not the same as self effacement
The right balance should place you mid way between grandiosity and self effacement
Talking to yourself
What names do you call yourself?
When you make a mistake, do you say...
What an idiot! How can you be so stupid!
Can't you get anything right! What a loser!
There you go again! You're not really up to it, are you?!!
Who else has talked to you this way in the past?
Why are you still listening to them?
You can't change your past, but you can change the way you talk to yourself today.
Start by making a LONG list of all the good things you have ever done
Catch yourself saying nasty things to yourself
Exclaim: Stop it!!
Say the opposite to yourself, that you have achieved a lot of good things
Recite your list of achievements to yourself
Regularly review your list of Should's and tell yourself it is OK to be less than perfect
Convince yourself to be proud of what you have done and of what you are working on
Why do you think you have so few strengths worth celebrating?
Because everyone has always pointed out your shortcomings -
Because you rarely get any positive feedback for a job well done
Because the things you do well are so familiar to you that you take them for granted
Because you have learned to focus only on your mistakes
Audit your strengths
This is not as easy as it seems because you will have discounted your strengths
Find a good listener to help you review everything you have done
Anyone who hasn't done what you've done will be more objective about what you can do
Discuss every work and non-
Strive to avoid discounting the other person's attempts to name your strengths
Celebrate your strengths
Make a list of your strengths and read it to yourself regularly, adding to it as you go
Praise yourself for what you have achieved
Compare yourself favourably with peers who have not done what you have done
Review your strengths whenever you are feeling particularly defeated
The following affirmations by Virginia Satir are helpful to copy and hang on a wall where you will constantly see them, and repeat them to yourself.
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism has two aspects. First, you have a tendency to have expectations about yourself, others, and life that are unrealistically high. When anything falls short, you become disappointed and/or critical.
Secondly, you tend to be over concerned with small flaws and mistakes in yourself or your accomplishments. In focusing on what's wrong, you tend to discount and ignore what's right.
Perfectionism is a common cause of low self-
Overcoming perfectionism requires a fundamental shift in your attitude toward yourself and how you approach life in general. The following seven guidelines are intended as a starting point for making such a shift.
Occasionally, almost everyone will experience a lack of self-
Assertiveness training is one of the very effective ways to deal with those situations, both in and out of work, where you feel you lack confidence. It is a way of un-
To read about Self -
To read about Assertiveness including Assertiveness training and techniques, please click the link below:
One of the worst circumstances, though, is meeting people who are "authority figures". Especially people such as bosses and supervisors at work, but including almost anyone who is seen as being "better" than they are in some respect. People with low self-
How is it ever possible to feel "comfortable" or "natural" under these circumstances?
Pointers to Low Self-
To maintain healthy self esteem:
Forgive yourself for your mistakes
Celebrate your strengths and achievements
We are so used to negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses
Set achievable targets and get regular feedback
Change the way you talk to yourself -
Be sure that you are not judging yourself against unreasonable standards
Beating yourself for your weaknesses is self defeating
Some questions to ponder:
What are you really trying to achieve?
Why is it so important?
What about your other values? Are you in a rut or a tunnel?
Who are you trying to prove yourself to: your boss, father, mother, spouse?
“Beware the Tyranny of The Should's”
...be earning much more money
...be the best provider for my family in the world
...be at the very top of my profession
...get all my work done on time always
...never make any mistakes...ever
...always make the right decisions
...always know exactly what to do
...always feel enthusiastic and energetic
...always win all my arguments with everyone
...always be on top of everything
You no doubt have other Should's to beat yourself with -
But who says you have to be perfect? Or inhumanly invulnerable?
Can you live up to your Should's AND maintain perspective?
Having excessively high standards is a no-
Unachievable standards = low self esteem = pushing yourself even harder
Exerting even more effort and still failing = even lower self esteem
Hence you are caught in a self-
Let Go of the Idea That Your Worth Is Determined by Your Achievements and Accomplishments
Outer accomplishment may be how society measures a person's "worth" or social status. Work on reinforcing the idea that your worth is a given. People ascribe inherent worth to pets for instance, just by virtue of their existence. You as a human being have the same inherent worth just because you're here. Be willing to recognise and affirm that you're lovable and acceptable as you are, apart from your outer accomplishments.
Stop Magnifying the Importance of Small Errors
One of the most problematic aspects of perfectionism is its directive to focus on small flaws or errors. Perfectionists are prone to come down very hard on themselves for a single, minute mistake that has few or no immediate consequences, let alone any long term effects. When you really think about it, how important is a mistake you make today going to be one month from now? Or one year from now? In 99.9 percent of cases, the mistake will be forgotten within a short period of time. There is no real learning without mistakes or setbacks. No great success was ever attained without many failures and mistakes along the way.
Focus on Positives
In dwelling on small errors or mistakes, perfectionists tend to discount their positive accomplishments. They selectively ignore anything positive they’ve done. A way to counter this tendency is to take inventory near the end of each day of positive things you've accomplished. Think about what ways, small or large, you've been helpful or pleasant to people during the day. Think of any small steps you've taken toward achieving your goals. What other things got done? What insights did you have?
Pay attention to whether you disqualify something positive with a "but”. For example, "I had a good practice session, but I became anxious near the end." Learn to leave off the "but" in the assessments of your attitudes and behaviour.
Work on Goals That Are Realistic
Are your goals realistically attainable, or have you set them too high? Would you expect of anyone else the goals you set for yourself? Sometimes it's difficult to recognise the overly lofty nature of certain goals. It can be helpful to do a "reality check" with a friend or counsellor to determine whether any given goal is realistically attainable or even reasonable to strive for. Are you expecting too much of yourself and the world? You may need to adjust some of your goals a bit in line with the limiting factors of time, energy, and resources. If your determination of self-
Cultivate More Pleasure and Recreation in Your Life
Perfectionism has a tendency to make people rigid and self-
The Sioux Indians have a wise saying: "The first thing people say after their death is, “Why was I so serious?” Are you taking yourself too seriously and not allowing yourself time for fun, recreation, play, and rest? How can you make more time for leisure and pleasure? You can change by taking time every day to do at least one thing you enjoy.
Develop a Process Orientation
If you engage in sports, do you play to win or just to enjoy the activity of playing? In your life in general, are you "playing to win," chanelling your energies into excelling at all costs, or are you enjoying the process of living day by day as you go along? Most people find, especially as they get older, that to get the most enjoyment out of life, it works best to place value on the process of doing things, not just on the product or accomplishment. Popular expressions of this idea include "The journey is more important than the destination" and "Stop and smell the roses."
The Excessive Need for Approval
All human beings need approval. Yet for many people struggling with low self-
In trying to be generally pleasing, they may conform so well to others' expectations that they often ignore their own needs and feelings. Frequently they have a difficult time setting boundaries or saying no.
There are many ways to get over being excessively needy for approval. The following guide lines can help you start:
Develop a Realistic View of Other People's Approval
When people don't express approval toward you, or even act rude or critically, how do you receive it? Do you tend to take it personally, to see it as further evidence of your own ineptness or lack of worth? Below are some common attitudes characteristic of people who place excessive emphasis on always being liked. These might be called "people-
Common Attitude: "If someone isn't friendly to me, it's because I did something wrong."
Alternative View: "People may be unable to express warmth or acceptance toward me for reasons having nothing to do with me. For example, their own problems, frustrations, or fatigue may get in the way of their being friendly and accepting."
Common Attitude: "Others' criticism only serves to underscore the fact that I really am unworthy."
Alternative View: "People who find fault with me may be projecting their own faults, which they can't admit to having, onto me. It's a human tendency to project unconscious flaws onto others."
Common Attitude: "I think I'm a nice person. Shouldn't everyone like me?"
Alternative View: "There will always be some people who just won't like me, no matter what I do. The process by which people are attracted to or repelled by others is often irrational."
Common Attitude: "Others' approval and acceptance of me is very important."
Alternative View: "It's not necessary to receive the approval of everyone I meet in order to live a happy and meaningful life, especially if I believe in and respect myself."
The next time you feel put off or rejected, take a moment to calm down and think about whether the person acting negatively is reacting to something you did, or might simply be upset about something that has little or nothing to do with you. Ask yourself whether you might be taking the other person's inconsiderate remarks or behaviour too personally.
Deal with Criticism in an Objective Fashion
An excessive need for approval is often accompanied by an inability to handle criticism. You can learn to change your attitude toward criticism, ignoring those critical remarks that are unfounded and accepting constructive criticism as a positive learning experience.
The following three guidelines may be helpful:
Evaluate the source of the criticism. If you find yourself criticised, it's important to ask who is making the criticism. Is this person qualified to criticise you? Does he or she know enough about you, your skills, or the subject involved to make a reasonable assessment? Does this person have a bias that would make it impossible for him or her to be objective? (The more emotionally charged the relationship, the more likely this is to be true.) Is this person speaking emotionally or rationally? You can often soothe the sting of criticism by exploring the answers to these questions.
Ask for details. This is especially important if you receive a blanket criticism, such as, "That was a lousy job" or "I don't think you know what you're doing." Don't accept a global judgment. Ask the person offering the criticism to indicate specific behaviours or issues that seem to fall short. Ask that person's point of view about what actions you can take to improve your performance or correct the situation.
Decide whether the criticism has some validity. You've evaluated the source of criticism and also, in the case of a global criticism, asked for details. The next question to ask is whether the criticism has some merit. Usually when a criticism has some truth to it, it has a little more sting, you may feel somewhat pained or disturbed by it. If a criticism has no validity, you're likely to have little emotional reaction to it at all; you may dismiss it as irrelevant, absurd, or uninformed.
The best way to handle criticism that rings true is to view it as important feedback that can help you learn something about yourself. Also be sure to remind yourself that the criticism is, or should be, directed toward only one aspect of your behaviour, not to you as a total person. Here are some good affirmations to help cultivate a positive response:
This criticism is a good opportunity to learn something.
This criticism concerns only a few of my actions, not my entire being.
Although this criticism feels uncomfortable, it doesn't mean that I'm totally rejected or disapproved of.
What to do Next?
© 1996 Mindscape Limited
Designed By David Lloyd-
Treatment of low self-
Treatment of low self-
There Is a Better Life for All People with Low Self-
Without treatment, low self-
Many people have been through the crippling fears and constant anxiety that low self-
Treatment of Low Self-
For social anxieties or phobias, medications can help to reduce the tensions associated with entering the fearful situation, to bring a racing heart and sweaty palms under control, and to reduce some shyness.
Doctors use several classes of medications that are beneficial, individually or in combination. The drugs with the longest history of use with social phobias are the beta adrenergic blocking agents, also known as beta blockers. The most commonly used are propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin). The patient can take propranolol as needed or in dosages of 10 to 20 mg three to four times a day, or atenolol in dosages of 25 to 100 mg once daily. Surprisingly, controlled research studies have not supported the widespread anecdotal reports of success with beta blockers. It's possible that their best use is for occasional mild social anxieties.
The high potency benzodiazepines clonazepam (1-
Current research suggests that the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), especially phenelzine, are most highly effective medications for treating social phobias. In studies, about 70% of subjects improve significantly within four weeks. Occasionally, however, a social phobic can experience an exaggerated response to an MAOI and become too talkative, outgoing or socially uninhibited. In that case the prescribing physician will lower the medication dosage or stop it altogether.
One approach to drug treatment that experts recommend for social fears is to begin by taking a medication only as needed. If patients are anxious only about specific events and if they experience primarily physical symptoms (sweating, racing heart, etc.), then about one hour before the event, they can take propranolol or atenolol. Propranolol seems to work better for occasional problems, while atenolol may work better for continued problems. If their symptoms are more cognitive (they worry about their performance or the judgment of others), then they can take alprazolam one hour before the event. If they have a mix of these symptoms then a combination of these medications may be more helpful. Benefits of these drugs should last about four hours.
If the social anxiety is more general, unpredictable and widespread, then patients may need to take one of these medications on a daily basis. If it is not helpful within two to three weeks, they can taper off the drug and switch to an MAOI such as phenelzine, at 45-
A number of medications are currently under investigation and may prove to also be helpful. These include fluoxetine (Prozac) and other serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)