Criticism, teasing, punishment and abuse, poverty, economic deprivation, failure in school and many other factors affect our feelings of self-worth. Even race, religion, the media, culture and sex have an influence on how we feel about ourselves.
When negative thoughts and feelings take root early in life, they can become powerful thought patterns that form habits of thinking. Before long, we begin to think in ways that limit our growth and self-development. We begin to doubt ourselves and feel dissatisfied. We become afraid to accept challenges and feel unworthy, even when we do accomplish important things. The deeper these thought patterns take root, the lower our self esteem falls, until we cannot envision what it is like to feel good about ourselves.
YOUR SELF ESTEEM INVENTORY
Complete the following inventory, noting the areas in which your self esteem is strong and those that need strengthening.
Words or Phrases that describe you in the following life areas:
Physical Self _______________________________________________________________
Emotional Self ______________________________________________________________
Spiritual Self ________________________________________________________________
DISGUISED LOW SELF ESTEEM
Self esteem is sometimes hidden by other behaviors used to compensate for the deep-rooted, more painful feelings we wish to avoid. Psychologists tell us that low self esteem often masks itself under a false front of superiority, perfectionism, over-confidence, “niceness” or “humbleness,” boastful or attention-seeking behavior, hyper-critical behavior or religious fanaticism.
All of these behavior patterns are meant to shield us from the underlying feelings of sadness, inferiority, self-hatred, fear or insecurity. They allow us to “compensate” for these unacceptable or painful feelings by giving us a false sense of being “okay” or “right” or “better” than those around us.
Do you find yourself masking low self esteem with any of the behaviors mentioned above? ________
Describe certain behaviors you display that mask low self esteem: