The Importance of Self-Esteem -- Why you feel the way you do...

"Low self-esteem, that evil root, From which anxiety, anger and depression shoot."

Most of us have ups and downs about how secure we feel. All of us doubt our worth from time to time. However, if the doubt is great and frequent, we are likely to become anxious, believing that we don't have the wherewithal to cope with the difficulties that confront us. I believe that this anxiety is a major cause of anger and depression.

Almost always, anxiety is created by feeling unworthy, by believing we have flaws that damn us. Deep inside resides the horrible notion that others will reject us, abandon us, or simply overlook us and forget us, because we are unworthy, and we will be left defenseless and alone. Most of the time, this thought is so horrible that we block it out. Even so, it continues to work its evil, affecting how we behave around others, to everyone's detriment, including our own.

We get angry with those whose actions remind us of this horrible thought. Tempers are short when we feel we just can't cope with another setback, or when we feel what little sense of worth we have left isn't being respected. We get depressed when the feelings of unworthiness wash over us. We lose hope that we can take effective actions on our own behalf in our relationships and jobs.

How is this low self-esteem created? All too easily. Children are dependent upon the adults in their lives for emotional and physical nurturing. When there is not enough nurturing, the child, who has a child's knowledge only, believes that he or she doesn't get what is needed because he or she is not good enough to deserve loving care. If the child is also physically and emotionally battered, his or her sense of worth is likely to be very badly damaged. Great anxiety results, and the child becomes depressed or angry, or both. The child and teenager react in ways that are dysfunctional, lashing out or holding in, and do things they feel guilty about and ashamed of. Guilt and shame feed the root of low self-esteem. Its vines entwine and imprison, creating feelings of powerlessness and of not being good enough.

How is healthy self-esteem created? We clip away the vine, little by little, freeing you to try new ways of behaving. With practice and hard work, you learn to recognize what is real and true about yourself and to accept and value yourself. You see how low self-esteem has distorted your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs and reinforced your feelings of worthlessness. You realize that you will not be rejected by life, that you are stronger and more capable than you thought, and that you can effectively cope with what life brings your way. You are not alone. You make friends. You participate more fully in the larger world. You come to love your life and yourself more fully. You feel secure. You breathe easy. You begin to bloom.

Maria Brent, RN, MA, LPC
The Starting Point
215 Highland Avenue, Suite C
Westmont, NJ 08108

Cell phone: 856-275-3701
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Copyright© 2011 - 2012 Maria Brent