When we are sure we can ‘think’ ourselves into having esteem, we are mistaking self worth for low self confidence.
Low self-confidence vs low self-worth
Low confidence comes from present day challenges, like a job we don’t have the full skillset for, or something we have actually messed up in the past and are worried we will mess up again, like a presentation.
Our low confidence is rational. And we can then find rational ways to navigate it – get help on the speech from a colleague, or find a mentor.
Low self-worth is not rational. We can have the best job going, good health, tons of money, and still feel worthless. And low self-worth is not based on present day challenges, either.
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are a psychological term for very difficult things children live through that might not always qualify as ‘trauma’. This can include things like neglect, growing up in poverty, an alcoholic or sick parent, one parent being violent to the other, a family member going to jail, and your parents divorcing.
Blaming all our misery on our parents is not the best tactic. Often parents did the best they can, but didn’t have the right information.
But it is true that poor parenting— frequent punishments and criticism, harsh standards, not being shown enough affection — is connected to low self-esteem.
The Joesph Rowntree Foundation, in a report on low self-esteem, states that, “the strongest influences upon self-esteem are the individual’s parents. Parenting style, physical and particularly sexual abuse play a significant role.”
You had a breakup, and now you have no self worth. “I was very confident until that narcissist ruined my life,” you tell yourself.
This way of thinking is actually typical in people with low self worth. Creating a false history, constantly re-writing events, playing the victim and blaming others is a way to avoid facing our long history of inner pain.
Facing up to the fact that we’ve been struggling to feel good most of our lives and deep down don’t like ourselves takes a lot of courage. This cycle of denial and blame can be easier.
But it leads to more pain in the long run. Until we deal head-on with our past, we will always be running from our very selves, and creating the same difficult pattern again and again.
A 2018 study showed that in fact people with low self-esteem actually sabotage relationships with their poor skills at asking for support. Backhanded methods like whining, acting sad, and sulking lead to negative responses from partners.
But to truly move forward it’s highly advised to seek support. A professional counsellor or psychotherapist creates a safe space for you to work through what is behind your low self worth. He or she will also help you with integrating new ways of relating and being, that gently but surely raise your esteem.
Ready to get serious about getting some self worth? We connect you with London’s top talk therapists in central Locations. Not in London or the UK? Use our booking platform to find a UK-wide registered therapist or talk from anywhere with online therapy.
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