Maintaining Self-Esteem

Maintaining Self-Esteem

Beliefs that Play a Role in self-Esteem:
1) appearance
– I should be slim & attractive
– I should be youthful & sexy
– I should be tall, muscular & have a full head of hair
2) character traits
– I should always be positive & psychologically healthy
– I should be witty & extroverted
– I should always be relaxed & in controlof my emotions
3) performance achievements
– I should have a high-status, well-paid job
– I should have a university education
– I should be making lots of money
– I should have an attractive & tidy house
– I should have a successful business
– I should have high libido
– I should be good at sport
4) social relationships & interactions
– I should have lots of friends
– I should be able to connect easily with everyone
– I should be married or in a committed relationship
– I should be going out with lots of people & having fun
– people should like & approve of me

Patterns of thinking that diminish self-esteem:
1) comparing
– instead focus on own work & set goals that are realistic for you
2) rating our worth through our achievements
– can lead to a life that is unbalanced & stressful
– striving so as to win love, respect & admiration
– do a reality test exercise:
A) what are the effects
B) what are my subjective perceptions
C) evidence for my perceptions
D) evidence against my perceptions
E) have my perceptions been wrong before
F) am I making any reasoning errors
G) how else can I perceive this situation? (Or think of a calm, rational friend – how would they perceive this situation?)
3) excessive need for approval
– behavioural disputing
– when we stop trying so hard to be liked, we I’ve ourselves the chance to discover that in fact we are already likeable
4) labelling (ourselves on the basis of making a mistake)
– accept we make mistakes & stop making gross over-generalisations
E.g unhelpful labels | helpful specific statements
– I’m socially incompetent | I’m shy with people I don’t know well
– I’m an idiot | I did a silly thing
– I’m a traitor | I let her down – I made a mistake
– I’m a failure | I didn’t achieve some of my career goals
– I’m lazy | I find it difficult to get motivated on some tasks
– I’m dumb | I don’t have very good general knowledge
– I’m damaged | I suffer from depression at times
– I’m incompetent | I’m not very good at using modern technology
– I’m pathetic | I get upset easily
– I’m unlovable | My ex was not interested in me

E.g. Unhelpful over-generalisations | Helpful specific statements
– I’m not achieving anything | I have not achieved a goal that was important to me
– Everyone thinks I’m an idiot | Phil’s parents and my mother disapprove of my decision
– People reject me once they get to know me | I have been rejected in three of my relationships
– The harder I try, the worse things get | In spite of trying hard, I couldn’t resolve the particular problem
– Women don’t like me | I don’t connect well with some of my wife’s friends
– I’ve been a hopeless parent | I have made some mistakes in the way I brought up my children
– I’m not making any progress | I have not made as much progress as I would have liked
– I have wasted a whole day | I have achieved substantially less than I had planned
– I’m hopeless at job interviews | I didn’t perform very well at my last two job interviews

5) unconditional self-acceptance
– What ever you focus on becomes magnified
– The more we focus on our perceived defects, the more problematic they become
– Paradoxically, it is not the perceived the defect, the attention we give it that robs our confidence, inhibits our behaviour and diminishes our self-esteem
– The assumption that others judge us harshly is often incorrect
– Most of us are our own harshest critics
6) Cognitive flexibility
– Eliminating the “shoulds” – I should do this, I should be that
7) acknowledge your own Strengths and qualities

Behaviour strategies to enhance self-esteem:
– Set life-enhancing goals
– Be honest/authentic so as to connect with others in a meaningful way
– Use assertive communication – challenge self-fulfilling prophecies such as “I am inferior”
Source: Edelman, S. 2013.


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