Even if you are caught in a web of negative thinking.
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.S.W., L.M.F.T.
One of my clients recently came to the conclusion that her mind was like an Internet of web sites. She said, “But some of my web sites have self-esteem devouring spiders.”
Her humorous moment was born out of the frustration of dealing with a part of herself which seems committed to undermining her from the inside out. She feels bad about herself and struggles with two questions:
1. How did I get this way and
2. What can I do to feel better about myself?
How is Self-Esteem Wounded?
Being raised in a toxic family is no vacation. It’s more like a Bed & Brainwash than a Bed & Breakfast. Like with all effective brainwashing, if given enough time the subject can be broken. In a toxic family system, parents attack their children for having needs, being vulnerable and imperfect. Through a constant stream of negativity the child’s self-concept is eroded and they are shamed into submission. A part of themselves learns to replay the litany of self-sabotaging and esteem-gutting messages like a mantra. When the brainwashing is complete, the person is reduced to a shell of their potential.
Comparing ourselves to others causes us to feel either one-up or one-down. Neither position is emotionally healthy. Such comparisons are often what we learn growing up among our peer groups. The only fair comparison however, is self-to-self. That information is useful in the quest for personal or professional growth. Feeling less than another only serves to limit us.
Self-Blame in Moments of Pain
When bad things happen to us, we search for some explanation or meaning to the trauma. Hurtful events may inadvertently trigger a self-destructive pattern of illogic. In those painful moments of overwhelming emotional experiences, we psychologically regress into a more child-like frame of mind.
From that perspective we may believe:
· I’m the center of my universe
· If I’m in pain, somehow I’m to blame
· If I’m the cause, I must be really bad, etc.
Rising Above Your Raising
People learn to feel bad about themselves and they can learn to feel good as well. The beliefs about oneself that lead to low-self esteem can be changed. There is no innate problem with the hardware of your brain. It is the software that needs up-dating. A little psychological reprogramming of those belief systems can lead to Self-Esteem Version 2.0: A New You. You can rework the website of your mind and debug any esteem devouring spiders. In short, you can rise above your raising.
When you plan to undertake this process, I suggest that you seek the guidance and consultation of an experienced psychotherapist who is skilled in helping people to accomplish the following tasks:
· Identify traumatic or painful points in your life that caused you to imprint a negative belief about yourself.
· Desensitize the painful part of the experience that holds the negative belief in place.
· Replace that negative thought with a more desirable one. Imprint and integrate it well.
Ten Positive Messages That You May Want To Replace Esteem Busters:
1. I have the right to be here.
2. I am already enough.
3. I am worthwhile.
4. I am valuable.
5. I am significant.
6. I am glad to be myself.
7. It is OK to think well of myself.
8. It is OK to take excellent care of myself.
9. I am capable of learning.
10. I can own my strengths.