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Shvoong Home>Social Sciences>The 3 Ways we Lower Our Self-Esteem Summary

The 3 Ways we Lower Our Self-Esteem

Article Summary   by:MsCYPRAH     Original Author: Elaine Sihera
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We know that the permanent basis for losing confidence is tied up with our sense of achievement, belonging and self-esteem. If we do not feel we belong, or have achieved enough, our self-esteem tends to suffer. When it comes to achievement, in particular, there are numerous ways to lose our confidence and many of them relate to the limits we unwittingly put on ourselves. Each new day we consciously put artificial barriers on what we can achieve; we tell ourselves we cannot do a particular act, and then we don't. Our confidence sinks, we feel even worse and our low self-esteem ensures that we really can't achieve, just as we said we wouldn't.

To limit our achievements before we've even begun is to damn ourself to the worst. Our actions are controlled by our thought processes. If we are in a car driving to an unfamiliar destination, we mentally talk ourselves into getting there while remaining unusually alert to avoid wrong turns or accidents. We are likely to have a route map in our mind, or a mental picture of the destination, and to follow it to the end. We might get slightly lost along the way, but, having the basic idea of where we are going, we can either retrace our steps and get back on track, or stick to the wrong turning with the hope that it will join with the right route in the end. Either way, we will only have a temporary loss of orientation and discomfort because we know our destination and can always ask for help.

Not so our lives and careers.

We tend to head off in no direction at all, have no idea of where we are going or what our main objective is and actually expect to get out the other side feeling completely fulfilled or in the dream job of our choice. Yet this short-sighted approach is like asking a blind person to find his/her own way in totally unfamiliar territory. Guaranteed to reduce their sense of competence.


Knowing What You Want
To get where you want to go in your own life, and ensure a high self-esteem, takes three things. First, you have to know what you want and at least the direction you should take which will lead to it. Otherwise you will not achieve your desires and you have to be flexible with your habits. Nothing happens by accident. Your present knowledge and actions are dictated entirely by your general education and social background: and this includes everything you learnt from your parents, family, people you met and everything you did. All those aspects would have influenced YOU as the individual and moulded your current perceptions and character. They would have formed your identity - the person you are, and the things you do. If you are still in confusion about that, it suggests a conflict between what you aspire to be and your backgrond.

For example, if you are used to seeing people stealing to survive, you will come to see that kind of action as the only acceptable way to live because everybody does it. This belief would not change unless you are shown a different way or you begin to mix with people who survive by other means. But old habits die hard and it would take a lot of convincing, or to be socially excluded, before you eventually change. That is the main reason why some people never recover from a traumatic or unhappy childhood, particularly if others reinforce their negative experience in later life. They get into a pattern of behaviour, which includes certain key habits, and that drives their present while they are stuck in the past. Needless to say habits are the third thing which hampers achievement and lowers esteem.

If you want to know what future you are likely to have just look at your habits NOW and the kind of thoughts you dwell on. Negative, inflexible, habits which are dictated by fear produce negative results which keep us feeling low and inadequate. Positive, flexible habits which respond to change give flexible results which we can use to our advantage.

What are your current habits? Do they indicate what you want and ware going? Or do they tell more about where you are coming from and where you are stuck at this moment? Nothing will change without you changing those habits and your ways of dealing with your world. Neither will you achieve any more than you;re doing without you establishing who you really are and where you're heading.
Published: August 21, 2007   
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