Birmingham Counselling Services has many enquiries from people who are concerned that their low self-esteem is having a negative impact on their both their personal and professional lives. A feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness can undermine what you do and say in almost any circumstances.
Self-esteem is your own view of yourself, your skills, your talents, your achievements. Do you even believe that you have any skills, talents or achievements? This can be a destructive circle – you can’t believe that you are good enough or capable enough to complete something, and your lack of confidence gets in the way so you don’t complete it successfully. This reinforces your lack of self-belief, making it even less likely that next time such a task comes along you will be able to complete it to your satisfaction, even if others see nothing wrong with what you have done. This is important – it is one time when what other people think is worth taking seriously.
You are certainly not alone, and you might be surprised to learn who among your family and friends are fellow sufferers, and who sees you are a confident and successful person. How we feel on the inside is not always how we appear on the outside. You might find it helpful to work through the following questions and consider what you really feel about yourself.
Are you nervous or awkward around other people, whoever they are – colleagues, friends, family members, even strangers you meet during the day? Do you ever look at someone and find yourself thinking that you are not on the same level as they are in terms of appearance, intelligence, physical strength and sporting aptitude, the ability to make friends and maintain relationships? Do you see yourself as the least important person in your family, your group of friends or your workplace? Feelings like these will erode your self-esteem and confidence, and ironically you are probably the only person who sees you in this way. Try to find the courage to ask your friends, colleagues, and family about how they see you, your performance at work, your relationships with others, your personality. You are likely to be pleasantly surprised, even shocked, if you can accept what they say. Try not to dismiss their assessments –it is all to easy to sink back into the “They don’t know what I’m really like” place and to remain stuck with your low opinion of yourself. Actually they do know what you are like, as a colleague, a friend, a relation, and they don’t find you lacking. Believe it.
Remember that your needs are important too. Often people who have low self-esteem will put themselves out to please everyone but themselves. The reasons for this can be complex – if this describes you, are you trying to make yourself indispensible? “They might not like me but they do need me.” Or does your opinion of yourself rise a little bit if you can do something that someone else appreciates? “I can’t be all bad if X is pleased with what I’ve done.” Very few people are indispensable but most of us can sometimes make life easier for others, and whether you are good or bad doesn’t depend on someone else’s opinion of you. What need in yourself are you trying to fulfil? This is a really important issue, and one to be taken seriously. If you want to look at it in depth, you might like to talk it through with one of the counsellors at Birmingham Counselling Services, either via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling 0121 314 9903.
End of Part 1
In Part 2 we will look at more areas where low self-esteem can get in the way of a happy life.