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LynnS Profile
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FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


FOCUS ON OURSELVES:
 Self-Esteem

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"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
--Eleanor Roosevelt


When we come out of a relationship with a narcissist, our self-esteem has often eroded. The journey back to finding our sense of self in the aftermath can be long and arduous. However, with abundant information and a new perspective, the trek we take through the struggle to regain our equilibrium can bring us to a place where we are even stronger than we were before.

This installment of our Focus On Ourselves series will examine self-esteem in conjunction with various related aspects of the recovery journey back to, or perhaps even for the first time into, a strong sense of self.


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I have divided this post into the following topics that comprise the SEARCH:

S: Self-Esteem: Definitions
E: Emotional Abuse and its effect on the self-esteem of targets
A: Assessment and Action: Tests and Suggestions for Rebuilding Self-esteem
R: Resilience as a Tool for Rebuilding
C: Choice as a Restorative Concept
H: Happiness as the natural outgrowth of self-esteem, self-respect, and self-efficacy




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Self-Esteem


I'm going to start with some definitions of what self-esteem really is.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton on Self-Esteem, Discipline and Learning From Your Kids

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quote:

Self-esteem does not refer to an inflated view of one’s self. Instead, it is the capacity to hold onto a basically hopeful view of one’s self while facing and integrating experiences that challenge this view. The development of healthy self-esteem in a child allows her to confront her mistakes without taking apart her positive feelings about herself, so that she can mobilize these positive feelings (confidence, faith in her potential, etc.) to find the courage to learn from and overcome her mistakes. The result is not a skewed view of one’s self, but a realistic one in which both strengths and weaknesses can be acknowledged and accepted.




Nathaniel Branden has written extensively about self-esteem. This quote is excerpted from one of many articles on his website:


Healthy Self Esteem
By Nathaniel Branden


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quote:

Self-esteem has two essential components:

• Self-efficacy: Confidence in the ability to cope with life’s challenges. Self-efficacy leads to a sense of control over one’s life.
• Self-respect: Experience oneself as deserving of happiness, achievement and love. Self-respect makes possible a sense of community with others.



Of course, low self-esteem is something with which people of both genders can struggle. However, women can be plagued with a form of low self-esteem that is in part gender-related because of cultural conditioning.

Women and Self-Esteem
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quote:

Self-esteem is a core identity issue, essential to personal validation and our ability to experience joy. Once achieved, it comes from the inside out. But it is assaulted or stunted from the outside in. A woman with low self-esteem does not feel good about herself because she has absorbed negative messages about women from the culture and/or relationships.



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Emotional Abuse and Its Impact on Self-Esteem


What is Emotional Abuse?
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quote:

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim's self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of "guidance," "teaching", or "advice," the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting that physical ones. In fact there is research to this effect. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victim's self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to the abuser.



Women and Self-Esteem
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quote:

Abusive experiences join with cultural messages to assault female self esteem. Abuse is pervasive and cuts across all socioeconomic lines. It invariably sends the message that the victim is worthless. Many, many women have told me that verbal abuse has hurt them far more than any physical act. As one woman put it, "his words scarred my soul".



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Assessments and Action


It is helpful to gain clarity as to where we could use some work and having an awareness of our level of self-esteem is no exception. There are several self-esteem tests available on the internet. I am going to list two here. The first one is shorter and more general in nature. The second is a test that is geared toward women and their specific issues with self-esteem. It's very comprehensive and takes some time to complete. It's been some time since I took it, but I trust it still works the same way as it did in the past. The results are pretty enlightening.

Self-Esteem Test

The test itself can be found on this link:

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quote:

A low self-esteem corrodes our love lives, careers, family bonds, and, most importantly, our internal sense of well-being. A high self-esteem, on the other hand, brings the high level of confidence, problem-solving abilities, and assertiveness needed to achieve what Maslow called "self-actualization"- a continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to be all that you can be. People who have positive self-esteem have healthier, stronger relationships with others.



The more detailed, gender-specific test can be found here:

Self-esteem Test for Women

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With the assessment done, we can begin to work on building the self-esteem we may lack. There are several suggestions in the following links for things to focus on in this rebuilding effort:

Healthy Self Esteem
By Nathaniel Branden

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quote:

Self-esteem is a consequence of following fundamental internal practices that require an ongoing commitment to self-examination. I call these practices the “Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”:

Living consciously
Self-acceptance
Self-responsibility
Self-assertiveness
Integrity (Note: Details of each concept can be found in the article linked)



Building Self-Esteem: A Self Help Guide
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quote:

Things You Can Do Right Away — Every Day — To Raise Your Self-Esteem

Pay attention to your own needs and wants. Listen to what your body, your mind, and your heart are telling you. For instance, if your body is telling you that you have been sitting down too long, stand up and stretch. If your heart is longing to spend more time with a special friend, do it. If your mind is telling you to clean up your basement, listen to your favorite music, or stop thinking bad thoughts about yourself, take those thoughts seriously.

Take very good care of yourself. As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been on taking care of others, on just getting by, or on "behaving well." Begin today to take good care of yourself. Treat yourself as a wonderful parent would treat a small child or as one very best friend might treat another. If you work at taking good care of yourself, you will find that you feel better about yourself.



Self-care is very important in recovery. This link is geared toward college students, but I think the tips are excellent for everyone:


77 Ideas for Self-Nurturing or How to Treat Myself as Someone I Respect

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---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/7/2009, 3:14 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


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"In the midst of winter,
I finally learned
there was in me
an invincible summer."
--Albert Camus


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Resilience


I believe the reminding ourselves of our strengths and focusing on resilience is one of the most important things we can do to rebuild our self-esteem and sense of self.

The Resiliency Route to Self-Esteem
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quote:

"People are more motivated to change when their strengths are supported," concludes Dennis Saleebey (2001), editor of The Strengths Perspective in
Social Work Practice. People I have interviewed who have left gangs, recovered from alcohol and other drug addiction, made it successfully through college despite a childhood of abuse, or overcome other significant traumas have told me the same thing. "The people who helped me the most were the ones who told me ‘what is right with you is more powerful than anything that is wrong with you,'" a young man who successfully completed college despite a childhood of living in one foster home after another told me (Henderson, 1991).

That is the most important message to give ourselves as well as we take "the resiliency route to authentic self-esteem and life success."


And how does this route look?

quote:

1. Giving ourselves and others credit for all we have overcome, all the ways we have demonstrated resiliency. And naming these accomplishments and the strengths we used in securing them as specifically as possible.

2. Spending time focusing on "how we (or others) have done as well as we've done", suspending the common obsession with what hasn't yet been accomplished.

3. Identifying other strengths–important lessons learned, virtues, talents, skills and capabilities, how we help or serve others, all the best things about being who we are.

4. Maximizing these strengths as the best path to success, and using them to solve current life problems.



I have a page with several links on building resilience in the At The End of the Sky section of the forum, here:

Being Resilient: Donkeyskin
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There are resilience tests on the above link should you want to assess your own level of resilience.

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Choice


Reclaiming our own power and building our self-esteem is also related to recognizing that we have choices.

I have a new page on the At The End of the Sky section on Choices and Happiness at the Aimoo forum. It has an excellent video attached that discusses Choice as a key component in our overall happiness. The theory is that once we make a choice, we are programmed to be satisfied with that choice. It is the lack of choosing which causes our misery. You can find the page here:


Choices and Happiness: The Fisherman & His Wife

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Related to choice is the concept of Locus of Control. If our Locus of Control is not internal, we tend to be more discontent. An internal locus of control also helps us build our sense of self and self-esteem.

How to Develop an Internal Locus of Control

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quote:

Research has shown that those with an internal locus of control--that is, they feel that they control their own destiny, rather than their fate being largely determined by external forces--tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed. Fortunately, if your locus of control isn't as 'internal' as you'd like it to be, there are things you can do to change your locus of control and empower yourself.



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Happiness


In the end, this is where it should all lead.

Reflections on Happiness
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quote:

Begin each day with two questions: What’s good in my life?—and What needs to be done? The first question keeps us focused on the positives. The second reminds us that our life and well-being are our own responsibility....

Research also tells us that the best predictors of a person’s disposition to be happy are (1) self-esteem and (2) the belief that we ourselves, rather than external forces, are the most significant shapers of our destiny.



I would like to include this piece from the Choices and Happiness page. It was written in the early 1900's, and the wisdom is timeless.

Just For Today

by Sibyl Partridge
(As it appeared in Dale Carnegie's "How To Stop Worrying and Start Living.")



Just for today I will be happy.
Abraham Lincoln has said that most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Happiness is from within; it's not a matter of externals.

Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires.
I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

Just for today I will take care of my body.
I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.
I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways;
1) I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out.
2, 3) I will do at least two things I don't want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.

Just for today I will be agreeable.
I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once.
I can do things for 12 hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will have a program.
I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests -- hurrying and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax.
In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective in my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid,
especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.


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To everyone: You are all remarkable. You are more resilient than you know, more powerful than you recognize, and more than anything that has ever happened to you. I hope this collection of links reminds you of that should you have forgotten.

If you have your own tips, questions, or comments regarding this journey back to your sense of self, please add them to this thread.

Peace to all.

Lynn

---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/7/2009, 3:16 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


Thank you Lynn,
This is very helpful and interesting.
Echo

---
A Woman's Success Depends on the Shoes She Wears~~Dorothy
Mar/7/2009, 5:53 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


This will help me alot [sign in to see URL]! :heart:
Mar/7/2009, 5:57 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


You're welcome, Echo and lovespell :flower:

Lynn

---
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Mar/7/2009, 10:33 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


wonderful stuff. thanks, Lynn.

Lisa

---
"Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."

Carl Jung
Mar/7/2009, 11:14 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


What a fabulous post. Thank you for all these links and such a treasure of good information.

Lots of food for thought.




---
Pain is highly overrated as a teacher. -Rosalyn Bruyere
Mar/7/2009, 11:19 pm Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


Lynn, Thank you so much!!!!!!Hugs GS PS, Of course, I read every word on your site, Months ago
Mar/8/2009, 4:56 am Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


thanks lynn emoticon
Mar/8/2009, 5:40 am Link to this post  
 
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Re: FOCUS ON OURSELVES: Self-Esteem


I took the self esteem test and..

You're doing OK, but you're
definitely not making the most of the REAL YOU!
According to our scientific analysis you are currently tapping into:

46%

of your self-esteem potential.

That means that you have 54% left to discover

---
"Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity." Mark Twain
Mar/8/2009, 10:55 am Link to this post  
 
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