Self-confidence is a result of our self-esteem. Self-esteem is what people think about themselves -their evaluations of themselves. People with high self-esteem generally feel that they are lovable and competent. They feel they have something to offer others. People with low self-esteem have little confidence. They frequently have feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. They feel they cannot change. Or, in contrast, they may appear conceited, which usually is a cover-up for not “O.K” feelings.
Our self-esteem influences all areas of our lives: For example, how we get along with others, what kind of friends we choose, what kind of person we marry, the use we make of our abilities and how successful we will be.
How is our self-esteem formed? It results from the feedback we received from our parents, relatives, teachers, and peers as we were growing up. It is a result of our judgments about how people respond to us. It is also a result of our play experiences when we were young and the success or lack of success we had in school. There is good reason to believe that academic failure is a major cause of low self-esteem in our society.
A major influence in the formation of our self-esteem is the atmosphere of the home. Our early life history begins with a period of helplessness in which we depend upon our parents or parent substitutes for our very lives. Through the years of our childhood, we become increasingly more capable of caring for our own needs, and as such, acquire an increasing awareness of our own ability and strength. Our childhood years set much of the tone for our view of ourselves in our adult life, and can predominate in the face of a variety of life experiences. Thus, an individual who, as a child, had negative experiences about his own ability and value can experience a low level of self-esteem throughout adult life, despite a variety of successes that clearly display to others the individual's strength and ability.
Emotional independence is an extremely important dimension of emotional health. It significantly relates to self-esteem. Without emotional independence, our self-esteem depends almost entirely upon the immediate responses of others. Thus, dependent persons, when faced with rejection by another, perceive themselves to be unattractive or otherwise without value until someone else at last shows them affection or friendship. This is a precarious existence, since our self-esteem depends upon the moment by moment responses of others. Generally, such individuals make constant demands for the attention of others, and are hurt when the important people in their lives, even briefly, attend to other relationships or responsibilities.
Psychological treatment for such individuals focuses on building self-esteem and self-confidence. Clients gradually become more aware of their own strength and ability, and come to see the disparity between their self-perception and their actual accomplishments. Psychological treatment also involves teaching new skills which will enable the person to cope more successfully. With these new skills, the person becomes more confident. For some, it is necessary to examine their early life memories in an effort to show them the origins of their misperception of themselves. The therapist works at supporting desired changes in behavior that cause a positive shift in our perception of ourselves and our relationships to others.
After reviewing the aforementioned information, you may be considering a thorough evaluation to determine if psychotherapy, personal growth counseling and/or marriage counseling can help. I recommend you first review the website link, "When to consider psychotherapy?" also review any other link you may think applies to your circumstances.
My name is Oliver (Mike) Siems, MSW, LCSW, ACSW.
My company, Personal Growth, LLC, has been providing counseling services since 1975.
Personal Growth, LLC is located at:
443 N. New Ballas Rd., Ste. 201
St. Louis, MO 63141