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Forums / Staying well / Is low self-esteem really a problem?

Topic: Is low self-esteem really a problem?

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. JessF
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    27 February 2015

    Now this may ruffle a few feathers, so I want to start by saying that what I’m about to write does not apply for people who have been abused or belittled throughout their lives and have come to have a very false sense of their true value as a person.

    Most of us with depression, thankfully, do not have these terrible traumas to have copied with but are depressed nonetheless.

    So with that caveat out the way…If you could boil your depression down to a single thought, that single thought is often ‘I feel bad about myself’. My question is, should we feel good about ourselves all the time? Are we entitled to? I don’t believe we are.

    Emotions such as guilt and regret can have very valid underpinnings, and can be a pause for us to reflect and ask ourselves, if I am feeling bad about myself, why is this, and most importantly…is there anything I can do to change things?

    Sometimes I think that simply accepting the phrase ‘I have low self-esteem’ can be an excuse for us not to make the changes in our lives that we need to make. And this is also why when we are feeling low about ourselves, that having well meaning friends tell us the opposite has very little effect.

    And if we ever were to truly believe these glowing compliments about ourselves, then we would be dangerous narcissists.

    Don’t you think that accepting yourself, warts and all, is more likely to help you stay well than an unwavering belief that you a wonderful person?

    1 person found this helpful
  2. white knight
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    27 February 2015 in reply to JessF

    Hi Jess

    Interesting thread. Ok, I'm a serious person. I can laugh and joke but I'm more serious than most. In clubs and groups I'm serious. People say to me "have fun, life is fun, our group is full of fun fun fun." For a long time I felt guilty that I'm not full of this "fun".

    In the last few years my journey has been to find myself and accept myself. This has led, obviously to accept that I'm a serious person, among other things. This new found acceptance has given me confidence BUT, the underlining of low self esteem has remained. But is it low self esteem? Or is it something else.?

    What is low self esteem? = low self worth or personal value according to Google. So can someone have confidence in ones ability yet have low self esteem? I say no to that.

    So in my case I believe I tell myself I have low self esteem when I really have other issues that mask it -like fear, social barriers, sensitivity and moods.

    So my post is really a clarification that could apply to other people.in that some may refer to the term low self esteem but if that was the case they wouldnt be capable or have the capacity to delve into other activities that a person with low self esteem has.

    You asked "My question is, should we feel good about ourselves all the time? Are we entitled to? I don’t believe we are." I'd suggest the possibility that some with mental illness may well have low self esteem "sometimes". I've known a man with bipolar 1 and when on an elevated mood you wouldnt think he had any esteem issues at all, yet when low it does reflect low self esteem.

     Tony  WK

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Pixie15
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    27 February 2015 in reply to JessF

    Hi JessF,

    I enjoy reading your posts and this is a good question.

    I think the answer is a definite yes. Low self esteem is really a problem. Low self esteem is not so much about not feeling guilty. Everybody has a bad day and does negative things that they may feel guilty for at some later time when they have been able to reflect on their actions. This is okay it is how we learn. Someone with low self esteem may however get caught up in feelings of shame about who they are rather than what they have done.

    So for me it is more about having realistic esteem. It is okay to esteem myself for my good things and accept that I am not perfect and sometimes I get something wrong.

    Grateful.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. geoff
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    28 February 2015 in reply to JessF

    dear Jess,a good point, and  you ask 'should we feel good about ourselves all the time? Are we entitled to? I don’t believe we are', and I absolutely agree, because those that feel as though they do feel good about themselves all the time are just kidding themselves, it's just not possible.

    Self esteem is how we like, accept or approve of ourselves and then how much we value ourselves, which then makes us have a negative or positive view of how we think of what we can achieve.

    So the question is do we still have any self esteem when we realise that we have to improve in some areas, probably yes because we aren't downgrading ourselves to think that we are hopeless, but realise in a logical way that we need to improve. L Geoff. x

    2 people found this helpful
  5. JessF
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    3 March 2015 in reply to geoff

    Thank you all for your replies! Grateful, I think you've got exactly what I was getting at, with realistic esteem.

    I think that external forces sometimes, well meaning though they may be, make us feel that there is something wrong with us unless we are feeling good about ourselves all of the time.

    As you say, sometimes feelings of low self-worth allow us to reflect to learn and make positive changes. For example, towards the end of last year, I went through a period of really feeling sorry for myself because of my weight. Whenever I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, you can imagine all the things that went through my head about how fat and useless I thought I was.

    Then I had an epiphany - that I actually had the power to change things. I didn't have to be like this forever, or be this person. My 'low self-esteem' was actually triggering me into action, and I started on a manageable program of exercise and healthier eating, nothing drastic but just enough to make that change.

    A few months on, and people around me have started to notice the change in how I looked. I hadn't even kept track of how much weight I'd lost, but the comments prompted me to do so, and it was nearly ten pounds. 

    This piece of information has also reminded me to not be so hard on myself and that if I want to make changes, I can make a difference. You'd think I'd be old enough to know this by now, but I think we all need constant reminding that we are not helpless and hopeless, despite what our depression may tell us.

  6. Pixie15
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    3 March 2015 in reply to JessF

    Hi JessF,

    I think you are right about the external forces trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. Mostly they want to do this so that we will invest in the next product or service that will make us better. I think your real achievement was setting an appropriate goal and doing what was necessary on a daily basis to achieve without worrying too much about the outcome. Congratulations!

    Grateful.

    1 person found this helpful

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