Low Self Esteem
Low Self Esteem
Low self-esteem is a serious condition, usually originating in childhood and manifesting itself in negative ways in adult behaviour and relationships. It is considered to be a condition in its own right rather than a consequence of other conditions and can seriously hamper interactions and communication to the detriment of both the sufferer and people they are in relationships with.
What is low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder – of thought processes which generate negative attitudes, emotions and behaviours not based on reality but on information and opinions from significant others in childhood. A person will think they are basically unworthy of positive responses from others – that they are primarily unlovable. This will then lead them, in an attempt to experience being lovable and worthy, into self-deprecating and compulsive behaviours. The view that sufferers have of themselves is distorted and unrealistic but because this is what they think and believe about themselves, they think others feel the same about them.
If they think, for example, that they are incompetent or unattractive, they will believe others see them as inadequate and aren’t attracted to them. This can result in feeling unskilled and uninteresting and so generate anxiety. Thoughts generate emotions which in turn prompt actions and behaviour. A person with low self-esteem has irrational or distorted thoughts which in turn generate irrational and distorted emotions and lead to negative and self-destructive behaviour. An example of this could be making bad choices such as staying in a damaging relationship because they believe they are unworthy of anything else.
How do you develop low self-esteem?
This happens in early childhood if parents don’t love a child and provide them with the necessary encouragement and praise. Good parenting encourages a child to be pleased with themselves, and with what they achieve, it allows them to express opinions and feelings with acceptance and consideration and generally encourages a child to grow up with healthy self- esteem. If a child’s thoughts and feelings are met with derision and ridicule and whatever they do and achieve is not good enough, then a child may develop fear and anxiety about not being good enough – sometimes becoming a perfectionist, needy of reassurance in relationships, and unable to take risks in anticipation of failure. Low self-esteem can cause serious and life-disabling consequences.
How can counselling help?
Counselling can help by exploring where low-self-esteem developed, and why. It can help a person to recognise their thought processes and when a thought is negative or irrational, to find ways to challenge the thoughts by reality testing them and as counselling progresses, to replace them with positive ones. This can take a while, but it is possible to be freed from a distressing and life disrupting condition.
How many sessions will I need?
Everyone’s pace of recovery is different, but as this is such a long-term condition and can affect every area of a person’s life, it may take longer than other situations and great importance will be placed on the therapeutic relationship which will be built between client and counsellor.