Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

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Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

Low Self-Esteem: That Must Be Because I’m Worthless, Right?

Low Self-Esteem: That Must Be Because I’m Worthless, Right?

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

~ Buddha

Ever feel worthless? Most people do, once in a while. But if you feel like that all or most of the time something isn’t right. Maybe you can focus instead on what the great Buddha noted so elegantly.

Self-esteem is not a “thing,” it’s just how you feel about yourself. It’s a feeling, a state of mind. Feelings are intangible. But what is that feeling about? Self-esteem is a judgment you make about yourself, and if you suffer from low self-esteem, you judge yourself to be inferior. Inferior to others, inferior to what you imagine is a universal standard, a moral code, and you believe that you somehow never quite live up to it. You’re just not good enough.

Since self-esteem is a state of mind and not an immutable object, it can be changed. But you have to be willing to question what you believe to be a reality, and start with the premise that what you’ve thought to be the truth about yourself (and probably for a long time), isn’t true at all.

Often, the ideal self you envision is unrealistic, and that’s where you’d have to start. Assess whether a perfect version of yourself is realistic, or even possible. A lot of what we think we should be like comes from external sources, particularly body image for women. How many women do you know, personally, who look like the images splashed all over the media?

If it’s not body image, it’s some measure of success in your career, or perhaps it’s about relationships. Your past relationships have never worked out because how could someone like that really love someone as lowly as me?

If your thoughts about yourself have been around for a while, they become a habit – the default place you go to when something doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to. A failure at something you thought you should have done successfully, when repeated, spirals into thinking of yourself as “a failure.” A total failure. Worthless. So no wonder no one cares about you, you think. Why would they? You become hypersensitive to the tiniest hint of what you (usually wrongly) perceive as criticism or rejection. And you are then on the alert for it 24/7. You see and hear it when it isn’t there, and beat yourself up for it without mercy.

Now let’s go back to the wise Buddha who said you deserve love and respect. You will get it if you start by loving and respecting yourself.

       • Start with self-compassion. Lose the constant negative self-evaluation. I know, it’s hard,           when that’s how you’ve come to think about yourself for what feels like forever. You’re not going           to do an immediate 180. That’s unrealistic. And you don’t want to turn into one of those           obnoxious know-it-alls who think everything they do is worthy of a Nobel prize.

       • Stop comparing yourself to other people. Start thinking about what you’re truly worth. The idea           of self-worth rather than self-esteem is a better approach. Instead of comparing yourself to your           friends, neighbors, co-workers, imagine yourself the person you want to be, and respect that           person.

       • Set some modest, realistic goals or tasks that, when completed, will give your confidence a little           boost.

       • Volunteer for something. It will help you feel worthy.

       • Make a list of things that you know about yourself that add to your worth (I’m a great organizer; I           can help people paint a room so they don’t have to pay for it; I make a mean vegetarian lasagna;           I make people laugh, etc.). Anytime you think of something else, add it to the list.

       • Spend time with people who have a positive attitude and appreciate your good attributes.

       • If someone says something unpleasant about you, remind yourself that just because they say it           doesn’t make it true.

       • Give yourself a break. Ease up on yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. Life’s too short to           dwell on all things negative.

       • If you know yourself to be a people pleaser, learn to start saying no. People take advantage of           you because you let them. It’s ok to put yourself first. “Selfish” is not a dirty word. Remember           what they say on an airplane about the oxygen mask… You can’t help someone else if you           haven’t taken care of yourself first.

If nothing works, and you find yourself still mired in feelings of low self-worth, consider talking to an experienced professional. It can help relieve some of the distress you’re feeling about your place in life.  I have also come across an article that you might find very helpful. Take a look at the following: https://www.cleverism.com/5-causes-of-low-self-esteem-and-how-to-fight-them/

 

 

1 comment on “Low Self-Esteem: That Must Be Because I’m Worthless, Right?”

  1. It’s a great post, Katherine. You really point out some important issues. I particularly liked these lines:

    “Self-esteem is a judgment you make about yourself, and if you suffer from low self-esteem, you judge yourself to be inferior. Inferior to others, inferior to what you imagine is a universal standard, a moral code, and you believe that you somehow never quite live up to it.”

    These are actually the main problems for people who are facing low-esteem issues. Clearly you wrote this article with your heart as well as your head!

    And thanks for sharing your thoughts with the whole world.

     

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