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What does healthy self-esteem look like


Symora
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Hi all, I've been thinking about this for awhile and am still baffled about it. I watch others and wonder 'is that appropriate', is that 'healthy self-esteem', is that what it looks like? What is the inner language that goes with that?

I always have inner struggles in reframing thoughts in that I'm not sure what is appropriate and what is over the top... like am I being too arrogant, or sounding like a know it all even to myself. I can't discern where the line is... Anybody have any luck? What are the words?

Edited by Symora
typo
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This is a great question, Symora. I would say that having healthy self-esteem means that you accept and love yourself for the person that you are. You know in your heart that you are worthy of all that life has to offer, such as love and fulfillment. You respect and admire yourself and allow the good feelings that come about from doing so. I think it also means you are able to accept things about yourself that you are unable to change and see your flaws as valuable pieces of your puzzle. Crossing the line into arrogance, to me, would be seeing oneself as above another. But I really do think that healthy self-esteem is about you.

How is it that you are concerned about this? Are you worried about reframing thoughts too positively? It's okay to have good feelings about yourself. Having good feelings about yourself is very healthy.

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I don't find reframing easy. Even if tell myself nice things I have a hard time believing them :) I wonder if it does'nt have to do with my not being able to function like I used to. I used to do so much; volunteering, home renos, worked full time, raised 2 kids alone, help our friends, was on committees, spiritual assemblies, managed co-ops, made pickles, home made muffins (well I still make those.... :)) And frankly I'm pretty good at most of what I do, but as I've become less 'productive', I don't have many accomplishments to fill the inner language with. I think that's family programming - hard work and successful projects were praised, and people who sat around were lazy bums... hummm.... I'm now a lazy bum :(

I guess it's at that basic level of loving yourself that I struggle more. My father was verbally abusive, and lately I have been verbally abusive to someone, and perhaps it triggered something because I ain't feeling too good about myself right now and self esteem is somewhere around 7% :o..... even if I did tell the other that I know I crossed a line...

Edited by Symora
typo
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Hi Symora!

I want to tell you what came to my mind by reading everything you wrote till now.

1) From your first post I thought that for some reason there are some bounds, some labels you have in mind about yourself. What I have to tell you is something a counselor told me once (for me): "Those bounds is something other people tried to make you believe that you need so as to restrict you, and you believed them, so now you continue the same motive giving a hard time to your life". Concider if there are any labels or bounds to you too, cause I can see you are having a war inside you. Your instict says that you should react (to something external that must bother you obviously), but your good manners (bounds) says you shouldn't. Am I right?

2) Even if tell myself nice things I have a hard time believing them

I find it a nice thing to do. Maybe one day you will! Or maybe they have to do with others and this is not a way to change others.

I used to do so much; volunteering, home renos, worked full time, raised 2 kids alone, help our friends, was on committees, spiritual assemblies, managed co-ops, made pickles, home made muffins (well I still make those.... ) And frankly I'm pretty good at most of what I do, (good to whom?) but as I've become less 'productive' (maybe you are tired of something. Of giving for instance), I don't have many accomplishments to fill the inner language with. I think that's family programming - hard work and successful projects were praised, and people who sat around were lazy bums (or maybe that's what made you feel tired)... hummm.... I'm now a lazy bum (that is good, but only if this is your own thought and makes good to yourself too)

3) I guess I do need external validation.... Don't we all? (well, yes, but if you leave too much the external one, then you give up your strength to others) Since i don't believe it when I give it to myself, getting it from the outside is perhaps more important to me... that is worth some pondering, thanks...

I am wondering wether you (Symora) indeed give too much to others in order to get love. All I know is that giving love should be a result of being so filled up with love for ourselves that we don't know what to do with the rest and so we give it away to others. Not the other way round. What I read recently is that people will never love you before they respect you. But if you don't love and give to yourself what you must have, before giving everything you have to the others, can they respect you? It is not proper to give more than you should, as it is not proper to give less. I think if you give more, or if you don't say "enough, stop" when something bothers you, you just spoil them and lose the opportunity to learn to depend in your own love and appreciation.

To be more excact, I don't meen that you shouldn't be a good person. People will accept everything you have to give and if you give too much they tend to make bad use of your kindness and ask for more cause they will see you give them no limits. If you have a good time keep on. But if this gives you a hard time stop. The others will never tell you to stop. They will tell you how nice you cook and they will show you how they will love you if you feed them. But if you stop it -after being so kind during the years- they will show their irritation by stopping giving you their precious 'love and appreciation'-even saying you are bad, crazy etc. People are like hawks. They can smell the weekness of the others and use it against them. So, will they react badly because you did something bad? No, you are right to realize it is hard to be the slave of the kitchen all the time and you know it's your right to get a rest too. Or you realize somebody is taking advantage of your good heart and you want to stop it. They'll react because you have spoiled them in the past and now they don't want to lose a kind kitchen slave (or whatever they gain from you without a try). That's all. So you are not the one who loses her bounds. They try to misslead you by hitting your weakness: your thirst for their love. I think you have a revolution seeking to go out of you, and I was never against revolutions, so if I am right, go on! I am with you!

Edited by Autognosy
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What does healthy self-esteem look like ?

My first answer was -

A smile.

But really, what is self-esteem if it isn’t what we think of ourselves. And we can choose what to think. Change how you think about yourself today and your feelings about yourself will follow tomorrow. Positive thinking isn’t a miracle cure - it’s a tool. Use it to make your self-talk more positive. Positive thinking brings positive results.

I know it’s hard to look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re lovely but you have to start somewhere.

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divine conciousness, awareness and respect for self.....that said..........i dont got it.............but i dont allow people to be abusive to me much anymore, and im not as abusive to others, so thats a small step well actually a huge step. for me, i had to detach from the whole wide world and everyone in it, scary.............yikes rambling on again.

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I appreciate all of your post, especially Autognosy who gave me lots to think about. It was scary how you talked to me as if you are psychic or something :) How the heck did you get 'give too much to others in order to get love' from the few sentence I wrote... hummm. I think you are dead on. I have had issues with that for a few years, and I think my self-esteem has mainly been based on what I do for others, but now I'm pooped and I feel pretty well empty. I've almost slowed down to nothing and have just been filling my reservoir again in the last while. I'm almost at a point where I can't give cuz I got nothun left to give.... I think I may even have been isolating because I did not want to be asked to give anything...

Thank you so much for that long post, it resonated very strongly for me. All of your insights have been helpful ... how wonderful to be able to talk about this will others!

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I appreciate all of your post, especially Autognosy who gave me lots to think about. It was scary how you talked to me as if you are psychic or something ;) How the heck did you get 'give too much to others in order to get love' from the few sentence I wrote... hummm. I think you are dead on. I have had issues with that for a few years, and I think my self-esteem has mainly been based on what I do for others, but now I'm pooped and I feel pretty well empty. I've almost slowed down to nothing and have just been filling my reservoir again in the last while. I'm almost at a point where I can't give cuz I got nothun left to give.... I think I may even have been isolating because I did not want to be asked to give anything...

Thank you so much for that long post, it resonated very strongly for me. All of your insights have been helpful ... how wonderful to be able to talk about this will others!

I am so so happy I could help!! I was afraid of not having understood the issue right, but it is very nice to hear I did understood. It was a relief after my long answer.

Anyway, keep in mind that if you find internal help, confidence and appriciation, you won't feel empty and people will never manage to control your feelings again. I didn't say they won't try but that you won't let them. I am working on it this year -that is my goal till the end of 2010, to regain confidence- so anything you need I can discuss.

Kisses!

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Sorry, I thought that was a expression everyone understood....;) It means like the hammer hitting the nail right on the head, a direct aim, catching the exact meaning of something. It is indeed a good thing! I was amazed on how you picked up some very interesting things from my short messages. You are a very intuitive and insightful person Autognosy:rolleyes:

Symora

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May I steal your idea and make working on my self-esteem my goal for 2010 as well??? ;) I think that is very valid resolution and something I need to understand better. As I mentionned before, I'm not clear about what healthy self-esteem looks like, feels like. People have for the most part taken advantage of me all my life, although I must say that I do have some loving and considerate people in my life as well, like my daughters for example.

So I finally have a goal for 2010. I have had issues with having no goals for myself, but now I have one. I think that healthy self esteem involves setting boundaries, and that has always been my issue. I feel like I either set my boudaries to tight to myself so that people can't hurt me, or so open that people walk all over me. It's that happy medium that I struggle with....

Here's to finding out more about healthy self-esteem in 2010 !!!:)

Symora

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I'm afraid the kitty looked a bit upset, to me, to be missing her nose. :-)

There are a lot of us struggling to find a psychic who isn't completely distraught over their own predictions; I mean, a happy medium. But a positive approach is good for several reasons: it helps you find the happy medium, and even if you don't find it, it helps you feel better while you're looking.

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Agreed, positivity is what gets you on the right track, and I have found lots of it here. Thank goodness, because I had lost my way in the catacombs of depression there for awhile....

The avatar is actually my kitty, Blue. He does have nose issues, and always looks a little grumpy with that flat face, but he's actually quite loving and cuddly ;)

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May I steal your idea and make working on my self-esteem my goal for 2010 as well??? ;) I think that is very valid resolution and something I need to understand better. As I mentionned before, I'm not clear about what healthy self-esteem looks like, feels like. People have for the most part taken advantage of me all my life, although I must say that I do have some loving and considerate people in my life as well, like my daughters for example.

So I finally have a goal for 2010. I have had issues with having no goals for myself, but now I have one. I think that healthy self esteem involves setting boundaries, and that has always been my issue. I feel like I either set my boudaries to tight to myself so that people can't hurt me, or so open that people walk all over me. It's that happy medium that I struggle with....

Here's to finding out more about healthy self-esteem in 2010 !!!:)

Symora

Hi again Symora!

Firstly thanx so much for your good words. They made me feel so good today! I left the house and still was thinking of them. Unfortunately most people don't hear many good words every day...

I think that the best way to start finding the middle line, is 'never leave any issue that bothers you, get on your way'. And if you are anxious that you are anfair to somebody while trying to be fair with yourself, I have to tell you that...if you can find a reason why you behave that way, then you are fair. I mean, if you watch television all day and expect your husbant to wash the dishes and make you a cofee to see your favorite evening programm, but you find it reasonable because all morning you were cooking and washing, then it is quite fair. If you do this but you don't want to give in return anything, you are not fair. If you refuse to make him a cofee because you are tired washing all day, you are fair. When you refuse just because it's boring while he worked all day it's not. I mean, everything is about give and return in relationships and it sounds like business but I think it is so. Don't try to find a reason why you are unfair -the others are good to provide you with many reasons so as to hit their goals, many of those, very tricky and fake. For examble a husband could claim he can yell at you because he brings money (or more money than you) at home. I don't mean yell for the money, but being bossy. If he is mature and thinks that you don't provide anything to the home (it doesn't have to be money to be an equal share), then he can tell you, or divorce you if he is not happy. But make you feel guilty, or minor because you don't brink money, you are job is not better than his, you have not got so many knowledges as him etc, is unfair and it has nothing to do with his yelling everytime you say your oppinion to everything. Of course you are going to think (or he might claim) that you are unfair not to accept his yellings, just because you are 'minor'. You are not, but that's irrelevant to the point and I believe you will be fair to both of you if you stand up to yourself and don't accept any abuse, or bad behaviour. That is for me the middle point of self esteem. When you react as much as is your irritation. Not less, not more. You want to talk to your husbant again of course, so there is no reason to stop talking to him, but if the issue is more important to you and you are not happy with the present situation you have to get till the end, meaning everything you say to what you expect of him, to gain what you must. And don't look back at what the other is doing or thinking. Cause people have got so many technicks to brink you back where they are comfortable, such as make you feel guilty, stupid, bad, selfish and so goes the long list. Be selfish and strong when you really want something (fair) to change, and don't look at the angry or crying people who put the blame of their irritation to you. They didn't care about your irritation (so as to cry as they do now) at the past, so you can afford their irritation too. You play with equal roles, don't you? Fair enough!

Wrote too many again! Anyway, you can steal my idea, you are welcomed! I hoped you would, I think it will do you more good than you imagine. It is a real job though, I follow a plan. If you want me to tell you the path I follow to my autognosy and self confidence, even phrases and ideas I have written down for myself, I will be more than glad to do it! It is something I do every day for almost a month now and even if I am not good at following plans, this one makes so much the stress go away that I have kept it day by day. Every morning I wake up and think to begin my 'self study', like I am thirsty! Every night I go to sleap only when I am very tired by reading and writing -but it fills me and I am happy to do it! Where will it get me? I don't know, I just follow the experts advice and wait to see the results...in a year from now!

Maria

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First of all, sorry for the long post. I can't help it, what can I say :rolleyes:

Well I don't know if you have the time, (I think our soul needs as much time as any wooded part of our body to be honest) but my 1 first suggestion is go to a book shop where they have a big area of self help books. It is not something bad and you will realize that when you will be really attracted by any of them. That means you're really looking for something. Make a reasearch, take your time to read them inside and see if they 'speak' to you. It is importand to be persuative and not go in contrast with your believes. These books are going to be your tools.

At that point I can propose 3 of my favorite-but remember they apeal to me and my needs which may be totally different than yours. The first that I ever read was during my teen age and it really really changed me as a person and helped me overcome my outstanding shyness and problems that it brought out. It is "The Power Is Within You" by Louise L. Hay. It helps you understand -in a worm tone like a friend is talking to you- what really means to love your self and why this phrase can be the answer for every problem. I think it can apeal to every person. I love this author! The second is more or less the same just it is much more analytic and it looks like a practice book where you really have to work on yourself. It is "Just Do It Now" by Lynda Field and the third is "How to Stand Up for Yourself (Overcoming common problems)" by Dr. Paul A. Hauck which is a great great book with so many trues in it and many things of what I've said to you you can find them in there. Trying to find the english titles on net I saw that those authors have written so many other books that seem excellent too, so must be with many other authors that I hadn't the opportunity to know as the books that reach my country are limited, so my suggestions is from what I have read till now.

2 Go and buy 2 dictionaries for 2010. They have to be beautiful inside and outside so as to be pleased to take them in your hands and work.

The one will be your working dictionary. As you read (better study) your books (take one at a time if you have many) you have to find an area in your dictionary where you can write down every nice thought you find there and you think it has to do with you and your getting better in the area that concerns you in your self. Separate every thought and don't care if they don't have a connection. It will be the highlights of the books you study, of your new thoughts about facts, of sayings of powerful people who said something clever and you think a good idea to keep in mind. In fact i tried my little thoughts not to have a connection. For examble when I read about confidence in a book I tried not to stick every confidence thought in janouary but spread them all over the months cause I want to read about confidence or any thought all over the year. Get it?

3 Then now have you left a little space for the good part? This will be the real working with yourself. POSITIVE THOUGHTS. People often characterize us badly, like "you are..." Stupid? Selfish? Weird? Different? Well the worst is that we've been taught to repeat them to ourselves and that defines what we think and what we are. We can change them just like that. Say the opposite. Think of what bad you repeat to your self (I mostly say I am stupid) and think of what you want from life. Say them like they are happening now, not in the future cause they will stay in the future. But for yourself, cause you can't change others. And keep it positive. You can't say "I am not stupid" cause your self has no logic. It will forget about "not". It will listen to "I am...stupid". Instead say I am clever. I find it so hard sometimes to find a possitive alternative word for any negative I capture myself repeat to me! That shows me how badly I treat to myself without realizing. Maybe sociaty is made this way, our own language. So say "I am clever" or "I am fabulous and can do anythink in life". You may not believe that they will happen but it's ok, just say it. And then write down in the selected area. I have found a nice dictionary which provides a coloured box and I use it for positive thoughts. It appears every Monday, Wensday and Friday, so when Monday comes I have 2 whole days to repeat to myself my positive thoughts -till Wensday where another idea will take it's place. The good think is that, doing this job, just to try and finish my dictionary, gave me strength to overcome bad atmosphere in home where my old parents where around and gave me a hard time. I did an hour work and then whatever the atmosphere I was so relaxed and fullfilled!!!! So I can imagine what will I really gain when I start working on it (from tomorrow 1st of 2010 -hehe!) and how changed will I be this time next year!

4Now the second dictionary is your everyday result of all the above. What is initially good about you and what you acceaved today that says you are getting better or feeling better. Also you can keep it for the rest of your life if you want. I call it "The self confidence dictionary". It again starts on the 1st of Janouary. Everyday I'm going to sit down at night, in a happy atmosphere and think: what made me happy today? What was my accomplishement? Why did it worth it to live this new day? What new or excited did I do? Did I go to the zoo and thought it filled my day better than staying in? Did I talked back to my boss and I am proud of it? Did I go to the theater and remembered that life is not just relaxing on tv? Did I do anything that I was previously so afraid to do? Anything! What goal did I succeed? It could be as simple as "I let myself get a rest, not cook, just sleap and made others in the house respect that".

5A little area again will be to write down my good aspects, my talents or even anything I am good at, like "I am good at changing conversation when I see a trap coming" or "I am good at organizing my time" or "I am good/getting good in ignoring the others when trying to tie me using my feelings" or "I am good at telling lies". And don't think it's bad! If you help you get through with life, then don't ignore this 'bad' tallent. That's what it makes it good. Don't think that cooking well is good if it drains you out and makes you a slave. But you shouldn't ignore it. For instance you can say "I am good in cooking but I am also good of prevending being a kitchen slave". (I took this thought from an other clever book of Ute Erhart -Every day and a more bad girl- I don't know the english title, sorry).

So in this book you don't write what you want to achieve, but what you have already achieved. What are the skills you have surely gained, the talents you are born with or even something little you achieved just once in your life. It doesn't matter you are not sure how you did it. You did it-it's yours ;)

After years, or during this year, when you need a boost of your confidence you can read the self confidence book and see you really worth many things. But maybe after this every day job for a year with yourself you won't need it at all!

Good luck! ;)

Maria

Edited by Autognosy
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Just throwing this out there as a thought, Symora, but have you ever thought about where the poor self-esteem might be coming from? For me, once I discovered how the seed was originally planted it became easier to realize that its validity was based on a false perception due to the situation of my childhood. It's difficult sometimes to shake these things loose from our psyche, but understanding the source of their emergence can be a good place to start.

Edited by IrmaJean
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Maria, thanks so much for that sound advice. I have been a reader of self-help books and I'll look up the ones you suggested. I think the two dictionnaries (perhaps you mean diaries???) is a great idea - perhaps I'll do it on the computer though since I have become lazy with writing long hand:rolleyes: The trick is to remind myself daily that I have strength and nice traits, right? I will definitively try that - I may even start a thread about that....

IrmaJean, I do know where the inner voice comes from, it's my father's, and it was beat into me in adolescence - it has become a mean little guy that sits on shoulder whispering negative things to me about whatever I do. I took it on without realizing it and it has been a powerful negative voice ever since. The sad thing is that it now feels like a comforting voice...like that mean little guy is my buddy now.:eek: When I go there I can feel how I relax into the familiarity of it. To me it sounds like the voice of truth, isn't that sick... Another thing is that when I am too emotionally charged I can say hurtful things, and then I replay and replay those in my head and they confirm that I am such a hateful person. Perhaps I am also too much of a perfectionist, my expectations of myself are high and I don't tolerate mediocrity from myself (reference my dad and his expectations again...), although that is changing because I am just not able to be that superwoman anymore, I'm pooped! :rolleyes:

I can't tell you how much your counsel means to me! I feel blessed to have found you lovely people and refer back to this site many times a day. Suddenly I'm not alone to deal with my issues, and that has made all the difference... 2010 will be a good year!

Edited by Symora
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Could we work on some real examples of reframing. Like for example I have this general opinion of myself that says that I am a general 'f**k up*, I know that sounds harsh, but there it is.:rolleyes:

Reframing:

*I am a general f**k up and I will never get my act together - changes to - I am a normal person with high and lows and ????

See, that's my problem, I can't figure out what to put in there without questionning it's validity :confused: If I put in I am kind, immediately I think oh yeah, remember what you did to so and so, that was not so kind, and then the positive turns into a negative...

It's all very confusing :cool:

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Maybe you're trying to counter too many things at once.

Let's stick to "general f-up" for a while.

That's still pretty vague, though. What do you think you mess up? Making it general like this is part of depression's way of insulating itself.

If you can think of both positive and negative examples, that's already progress, in a way: you can't be all bad, that way. So, if you're really nice to people on here (you are), and maybe once you did something that wasn't nice, why aren't you thinking that you're nicer than average? Everybody messes up, sometimes. And, when it's just a few times, it's still possible to apologize. But you're going to have a hard time eliminating them completely; that would make you perfect. ;-)

By the way, I find the problem that you mentioned to be the hardest part of reframing, for me, too.

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Now that I read your response Malign, I can see that I am making it into a black of white situation, with a huge umbrella that takes in all of me. Depression, that evil trickster :mad: In fact it's true, I can continue the thought to yep, but that was just one time and there are 500 times when you were nice, and that outweighs it on the continuum of perfection... As to the overall 'f**k up', I think it's about my internal turmoil, that I feel I will never feel stable. When I look at it my life it's not 'f**d up' at all, it's that I 'feel' that way...

You've made me see that I do have a tendency to think in black and white terms towards myself, but I do not think that way about other people. I cut them lots of lack, perhaps even too much slack sometimes. I wonder why that is? Ahhh, the journey to healthy self-esteem, so much to learn!:)

Edited by Symora
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One of the huge things, for me, was to compare how I felt and acted towards people on here, to how I treated myself. I also learned new things (it's a lot easier to ask people than tell them, for instance) to use when I interact with myself.

I'm not "finished", of course, but the road looks a lot more interesting than it used to. :-)

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