Low self-esteem

Posted on 05/03/2014 by summerville No Comments

aloneQuentin was 25-years-old when he first requested counselling. He didn’t like himself much. His father had been controlling and over-critical of him in his younger years and throughout Quentin’s life. Quentin felt as though he could never do enough to please his father. If he did well in school his father didn’t praise him, but said to Quentin, “you could do better than that!” If he won a race in athletics his father would say, “you need to improve your time!”

As  Quentin reached adulthood, he was well-practised at believing he was no good. He didn’t believe he was worthwhile. Instead of succeeding at university, he failed even though he was intelligent. Quentin believed he was “dumb.” This resulted in anxiety about his perceived lack of ability. He became stressed before his exams or handing in assignments, resulting in failure.

I counselled Quentin on and off over a number of years. He would improve in terms of self-belief and then something would happen causing self-doubt to return. Old critical messages from important people in our lives can be destructive. As we grow up we believe them. Negative thoughts can lead to negative feelings, depression and unhelpful behaviour. Quentin became shy and withdrawn, thinking he was “useless.”

Over time counselling helped change his mindset from destructive to constructive. Old patterns become well-established and difficult to change. It requires commitment to practise new ways of thinking and behaving. At first, they seem unreal and untrue. Over time, the brain believes the new messages and slowly changes. this is called neuroplasticity. Quentin slowly became more confident at trying new things and accepting more challenging opportunities. One fed off the other creating positive change.

If you notice you have low self-esteem, you do not have to remain stuck with self-defeating thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Counselling can help.

If you relate to this please call me on 027 488 9236 or email me on liz@summerville.co.nz.  I am located in Birkenhead, North Shore, Auckland.

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