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Old 04-07-2015, 10:10 AM #1
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Default low self-esteem

I'm wondering about what constitutes low self-esteem.

It seems to me that it is an intrinsic negativity about oneself. The baseline is that you're no good, and if you somehow "accidentally" do something good, you have to discount it. For example, I have a friend who is an excellent father, but whenever it's pointed out how great he is with his kids, he says, "Well, three years ago I did..." and jettisons whatever the current reality is, superseding it with an example from the past when he wasn't completely perfect. And who's ever perfect! But that's the standard for someone with low self-esteem - if it's not perfect, it's not good enough, and even if it is perfect, at some point I screwed up in the past, so I'm still not good enough.

What I don't think is poor self-esteem is if you feel bad about something you've actually done. If you did something awful, then you feel bad not because you have poor self-esteem, but because you did something awful. You are regretting that you were a jerk, because you were a jerk. lol If you can see a way to give yourself a break about it, and think there's a possibility that you won't act that way in the future, then you don't have poor self-esteem, you just regret bad choices you have made.

I think there's a big difference between feeling like you can never do anything right, and feeling badly about something you did wrong in the past. The former shackles your future, it's very bad, while the latter is good for you because it will help you not to be so selfish or destructive or hurtful or whatever and you will be a better person in the future.

If you are generally satisfied with your behavior, but feel bad about a few choices you've made in the past, then you have good self-esteem.

Why is this important to me? lol

I've just read a book called Stuck (oh, no, another book! lol) and it said that people can get a label stuck in their minds and never move on from it. For example, my son, a major carnivore, insisted he didn't like chicken because he didn't like it when he was 2 and refused to eat it. Until last year when he finally broke down and ate it and now he's making up for all those lost years. He would eat it twice a day if I let him. If you think "I have poor self-esteem" when you mean "I made some choices in the past that I regret" then you are shackling yourself. You could be free to be satisfied with yourself, but instead, you're insisting that you have poor self-esteem and are stuck with unnecessary self-loathing.

Secondly, to paraphrase, Trent Reznor said when he was writing The Downward Spiral something like he basically talked himself into depression. Writing is pretty immersive. However, I think it's possible to do that, to talk yourself into a mental state. Makes it easier to change it back again when you realize it though. If you keep saying, "I have low self-esteem" when you mean "I regret choices I have made in the past" eventually you're going to believe it. This is where it gets sticky, and some of you will say, what's the difference? But true low self-esteem is pretty much where you are, but if you talk yourself into having low self-esteem...

Why would anyone do that?

Because they don't want to face the truth. They screwed something up, and they feel bad about it, but rather than take responsibility for it, they'll look at their pain and say, I have low self-esteem.

What's the problem with that?

If you face the truth, accept it, learn from it, then you can go forward with it cleared out of you. You don't have to drag it around with you forever.

This is not helpful for people who actually have low self-esteem. I know that. I'd queue right up if there was a solution for that.

Because, again, it doesn't matter how much you do right if you have low self-esteem. You will twist it in you head until you find something bad about it so you can beat yourself down again. All the lists of attributes and affirmations in the world won't touch it. Reality won't touch it. I don't know what really helps.
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Old 04-16-2015, 01:09 AM #2
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Default Re: low self-esteem

Thank you for this.

I found this great article here on PsychCentral written by By Stanley J. Gross, Ed.D.

It is a 2 minute read.

How To Raise Your Self-Esteem | Psych Central
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Old 04-16-2015, 11:16 AM #3
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Default Re: low self-esteem

Eesh, that article looks like DBT. lol I had a rough time of it because of the two tenets.

First, accept who you are right now. Got it - that's why I have low self-esteem, in a way, because I know all about and accept (or at least can't deny) all my flaws. (That I can't accept that anything positive about myself is true, that's very un-DBT, but like I said, it didn't work for me anyway.)

Second, change yourself to do better. And there is the rub. AvPD can't be changed. You can learn to accept it, throw a bunch of coping techniques and distraction at it, but it can't change.

So DBT was pretty much torture for me. What I need and want is more people in my life, but that is impossible. It would be similar to if there was a crippling disease that could be cured with a peanut based medicine, but you're allergic to peanuts. What do you do? Take the cure and die of the allergy, or live your life knowing that to a degree it's your choice that you are in agony?

That was a decent article. Unfortunately, none of it applied to avoidants. The problem is, that it says to raise your self-esteem, change how you interact with people. I don't and can't interact with people, not on a personal level anyway, because I am avoidant. But it's full of nice ideas for other people who have a chance, other people who I hope read my original post and decided to take another look at what was actually going on with them before they bound themselves to any label.
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Old 04-16-2015, 02:20 PM #4
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Default Re: low self-esteem

Thanks for the post!
IMO and experience so far....it's an inner shift in perspective and informed position of inner compassion that comes with living life. Simplicity and the mundane is quite enough.
So are we all.

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Old 04-16-2015, 03:00 PM #5
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Default Re: low self-esteem

The baseline is that you're no good, and if you somehow "accidentally" do something good, you have to discount it - so very true, sadly.

Not so sure about this though: They screwed something up, and they feel bad about it, but rather than take responsibility for it, they'll look at their pain and say, I have low self-esteem. More likely they screwed up (and who does not screw up from time to time) and thought 'typical I always do this, I am no good' or words to that effect.

A more level headed person would say, 'I could have done better, but hey ho, these things happen, how can I avoid this in future?'
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