Self-esteem is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology as "one's attitude towards oneself or one's opinion or evaluation of oneself, which may be positive, neutral, or negative." Low self-esteem, in particular, is characterized by self-doubt, relationship insecurities, lack of confidence, sensitivity to criticism, and difficulty making decisions.
Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have a negative attitude, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and/or have a tendency to self-sabotage good things in their life. Friendships, family interactions and one's career can all be affected by low self-esteem especially if he/she believes, "I'm not good enough," "I’ll never amount to anything," “I suck at everything,” "I'm not worthy."
Such beliefs can cloud a person's judgment and affect the way he/she perceives situations around them. For example, being passed up for a promotion may be interpreted as not "being good enough" when in fact the individual may have not taken the steps necessary to show interest or initiative. Having low self-esteem is not the end all, be all as there are ways to overcome this type of thinking. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin improving your feelings of low self-esteem:
Acknowledge Your Positive Qualities - we all have positive attributes but recognizing them and owning them can be hard to do, especially if we have a tendency to focus on our negative traits. In order to counteract negative thinking, you may find making a list of your talents, skills and feel-good experiences to be helpful. Listing any compliments you have received regarding your personality, work, etc., can be beneficial as well. Composing such a list and referring to it when you feel you are doubting yourself can help to challenge these negative beliefs.
Surround Yourself With Positive People - being around people who are positive and supportive can help you build your confidence, improve your personal and professional relationships and reduce feelings associated with self-doubt. By interacting with positive, supportive family, friends and colleagues, you are more than likely to be challenged to think differently and engage in activities you may have otherwise avoided. Being around supportive people can also help to provide you with motivation to achieve successes you initially thought to be impossible.
Consider Therapy - in some cases, engaging is the above tasks is not enough to overcome low self-esteem, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained because of past traumatic experiences. Getting help from a mental health professional can help you understand the root of the problem, how certain factors in your life may be contributing to your low self-esteem and explore ways you can overcome your negative thoughts.
For many individuals, the ability to verbally communicate something they find upsetting can be challenging, especially when emotions get in the way. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a natural instinctive state of mind that results from one's mood, circumstances or relationships with others, emotions may lead to an inability to calmly, rationally and effectively communicate. Understanding why your emotions may be blocking you from effective communication is often the first step towards improving relationships. Below are a few common reasons individuals may experience difficulty in verbally communicating their thoughts...
1) Your “Guard” Is Up – for individuals who have experienced hurt, it is common for him/her to want to protect their sense of vulnerability. Having a protective layer a.k.a a "guard" may help do just that. Whether the "guard" comes in the form of an attitude or an approach towards dealing with others, the main goal is for it to shield the person from emotional pain. Therefore, instead of verbally communicating and exposing one's thoughts and feelings, an individual may instead express his/her discontent by engaging in a negative interaction. Understanding whether or not you are trying to protect yourself and knowing why you are doing so can help you identify what can trigger your negative reaction and what you can do to improve your communication style.
2) You've Only Learned One Way to Communicate – it’s not uncommon to come across individuals who believe the only way they can get their point across is by being negative. For example, some individuals will speak in a harsh tone, use demeaning language or even scream, believing that is the only way they will be "heard." For others, the thought of expressing their feelings is something they will not engage in for a variety of reasons, including if their cultural upbringing views it as being disrespectful Education and reassurance about the various ways thoughts and feelings can be communicated in a respectful manner can help to address this issue.
3) You are Being Ignored or Disregarded – there is no doubt that upon learning how to communicate effectively, one's emotions can still get the better of the situation especially if he/she feels their concerns are not being validated or addressed. Being ignored, belittled, or disregarded is something that can send almost anyone into a world of frustration. So, what should someone do in this situation? Figure out a way NOT to explode. Whether you take a break from the conversation, count to ten or express your belief of being disregarded - you essentially want to do something that will prevent your negative reactions from surfacing. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Overall, most people will come across a situation where they have to communicate the frustration they are experiencing because of another person. The ability to communicate effectively relies on various factors but knowing who you are, how you function and what triggers your negative reactions can greatly help you better control your emotions so they don't take over.
What techniques do you find helpful in controlling your emotions? Please share them below.
Christine M. Valentin
Welcome to my blog where I provide tips on feeling more hopeful and in control of your parenting life.