Counseling Center

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More Information about Self-Esteem

  • How self-esteem develops
    • Early life experiences- beliefs about ourselves are the result of experiences we have by a variety of methods including observing what others do, media, direct experiences, and listening to what people say. Negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves may have come from negative experiences.
      • Punishment, neglect, or abuse- unhealthy parenting or interacting with children may be due to a variety of reasons and can lead to a parent not being able to validate a child that may cause chronic feelings of rejection or worthlessness in early childhood.
      • Difficulty in meeting parents' standards
      • Not fitting in at school or home
      • Difficulty in meeting peer group standards
        • During childhood and adolescence, interactions with peers can become more important, especially if bullying occurs. Appearance and social media also become important
      • Being on the receiving end of other people's stress or distress
        • Sometimes families experience stressful or distressing events, which may cause parents to not give children as much attention and respond negatively to their children while being unhealthy models of how to handle stress.
      • Cultural variables- religion, race, ethnicity, SES, citizen status, language etc…
      • An absence of positives- not enough attention, encouragement, warmth, etc…
  • How the past affects the present
    • Current self-esteem is likely to be impacted by past experiences that contributed to negative core beliefs
  • Rules and Assumptions
    • When we strongly believe negative statements about ourselves, it often leads to feeling bad about ourselves and experience strong negative emotions.
    • To ensure survival and to keep functioning, we begin to make certain assumptions, rules, and guidelines for how we live that protects our self-esteem
    • Rule: I must be the best at everything or I must never make any mistakes
    • Assumptions: If I ask for help, I will be put down or No matter what I do, it will never be good enough
  • Unhelpful Rules and Assumptions Generate Unhelpful Behaviors
    • The guidelines or rules for behaviors may lead to people having unrealistic expectations of their performance and engage in behaviors that they may feel are helpful to achieving the expectations.
    • When a negative core belief is activated, people are likely to think that situations will end badly or become very self-critical
  • Biased Expectations
    • Sometimes, what we think may be consumed by predicting the worst and jumping to conclusions:
      • I will fail
      • Others will criticize me
  • Negative Self-Evaluations
    • Being unable to meet unrealistic expectations may lead to negative self-evaluation, which means the way you think is consumed by self-blame and self-criticism.
    • You may then behave in certain ways such as isolating yourself or withdrawing because you may think you do not deserve enjoyable things.

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