Self-esteem levels can be transient and volatile, one moment you are feeling good about your-self, the next you can be feeling down and out, and incapable.
In general ‘high’ self-esteem means we feel confident, have a positive and even adventurous outlook on life, whereas low self-esteem can stifle us, make us withdraw and prevent us from achieving our inner desires.
From the counselling perspective self-esteem is influenced by self-worth which I will come to later (see below) as it is important in helping you achieve your dreams and realise your full potential.
Issues with these two states (self-esteem and self-worth) are more common than realised, hindering expression, conjuring up road blocks to our aspirations and making life as struggle.
Low self-esteem and self-worth can interfere with your desires and abilities by:
- Preventing you from joining in leisure or recreational activities.
- Stopping you from really enjoying festivities.
- Holding back performance at work.
- Holding back success in ventures.
- Making you very self-conscious and shy.
- Adversely affecting how you dress or
- To be overly detail conscious of your appearance.
- Stifling the expression of creativity and imagination.
- Limiting the ability or desire to try new ideas,
- Not starting or seeking new relationships.
- Avoiding being a confident or leading when if it is in your nature.
When the level of self-esteem is overly dependent upon external judgement and approval, then you become fearful of other people’s opinions. In severe cases it can almost be paralysing.
Self-esteem and confidence can be raised improving one’s abilities, however these are external attributes built upon continuing successes. They can evaporate if mistakes are made, failures occur or there is criticism.
To overcome this fragility, counselling explores the concept of self-worth to help you reconnect with your personal and innate power.
Self-worth is the deeper recognising of oneself/yourself. i.e. ‘that I am of value and loveable irrespective of my performance and the judgement of others’. A healthy self-worth reduces and even removes the constant dependence on the approval of others. Thus you become ’liberated’.
When your self-worth is low you may find yourself entering depressive states, feeling fatigued or procrastinating and wondering if you are just lazy as there is no physically reason for this lack of drive and difficulty in making certain decisions, or taking that final step.
It can feel like there is an invisible force blocking your path. These hurdles which are preventing you from venturing out, reside in the unconscious as fear (usually) to ‘protect’ you from the possibility of failure because of the imagined dangers that judgement brings.
Counselling provides a safe, empathic, understating and non-judgemental environment to bring awareness to the dynamics of the unconscious messages undermining the possibility of a healthy self-worth. It also provides the opportunity to reconnect with our essence.
A positive self-worth overcomes the limitations of depending solely on our (fragile) level of self-esteem (i.e. approval by others) to enjoy life.