I have dodged the topic of self-esteem in my blog recently as it is a bit of a strange one for me. On one hand, I think of myself as a confident, loud and out-going girl. I’m not really ever shy or quiet, things that we might normally associate with low self-esteem, and I open up to new people and new things pretty easily, but I know that for as long as I can remember, I have deeply struggled with my self-esteem.
Why this began is something I have worked on in therapy and continue to work through in my own time. Delving into childhood, school, past relationships, and mainly the onset of my depression, is not something that is particularly enjoyable, but it has been pretty eye-opening for me, aligning some sort of explanation to some of the beliefs, and the amount of worth, I hold towards myself.
As I mentioned before, we might sometimes associate a lack of confidence with low self-esteem. Outwardly, this has never really been an issue for me. I’m good with people, and good at seeming like I am confident in myself. I guess low self-esteem might present itself differently in different people, but for me, it’s through my body-image, my tendency to agree with any negative opinions people hold towards me, my fear of abandonment and feelings that I maybe deserve it anyway, and a boat load of unhealthy coping mechanisms around these issues.
One of the most noticeable signs of all this to people I know will probably be my irritability. I get outwardly angry, and defensive, to people close to me when I fear they are seeing me one of the horrible ways I sometimes see myself, or when I fear they may be abandoning me or our friendship. The funny thing is, this is sometimes a sure fire way to show people my nastier sides, and push them away.
Learning how to start coping with low self-esteem, or even contemplating improving it, is one of the hardest things I have come across in all of the years I have struggled with my mental health. When I first heard the words ‘self-love’ they nearly made me sick. How on Earth could I commit to all of that when it’s hard to even believe that I deserve it? So I had to start small. Allowing myself to understand that it’s okay to struggle with some of these things, though it might not be preferable.
From there, the biggest help in this process was acknowledging where my specific issues were and how I tend to cope with them. I spend a lot of time doing some form of at-home-CBT, challenging some of the beliefs I hold towards myself and forcing myself to try and react differently in situations, disproving these beliefs. I have embarrassing little affirmations in my phone, that I read to myself nearly every day, and I try to notice when and why my self-esteem isn’t feeling tip-top. Journaling all of this helps massively. Although this is about as far as I am at the moment, it is a start that I am happy with, and am happy to keep progressing with.