Self-esteem reflects the opinion we have of ourselves, the judgments we make of ourselves and the value we place on ourselves as people. Self-esteems refers to an attitude towards oneself. When we say it is an attitude, we refer to the habitual way of thinking, loving, feeling and behaving with oneself. Self-esteem shapes our personality, sustains it and gives it meaning. It is generated as a result of the history of each person. Self-esteem has a dynamic nature, it can grow and it can weaken. We have to continuously nourish it.
The beliefs about ourselves, other people and about life are all learned. They have their roots in our experiences. Our beliefs about ourselves can be seen as conclusions we have come to on the basis of what has happened to us. This means that, however unhelpful or outdated they may now be, they are understandable – there was a time when they made perfect sense, given what was going on for us. Remember that core beliefs are there to protect us. The key is to identify now, as adults, if we need to continue ¨believing¨in them or if they no longer serve us.
Also, remember that the negative beliefs about ourselves are opinions, not facts. They are conclusions about ourselves based on past experiences (usually, but not necessarily, early experiences). A broad range of experiences, including both the presence of negatives and the absence of positives, can contribute to our core belief, and to our self-esteem.
It is quite common to confuse self-esteem with self-concept and use both as synonymous terms. Although the two concepts are related, they are not equivalent. In self-concept, the cognitive dimension prevails, while in self-esteem the evaluative and affective dimension prevails.
We can say that self-esteem develops from childhood and is impacted by the interactions, opinions, emotional availability that we have received from our primary caregivers, on top of other significant interpersonal relationships experiences. Not only are the words we receive that matter, but the behaviors, the responses that our parents and other meaningful relationships have had towards our demands and needs. As an example, imagine that as a child you have been excited about something and wanted to show it to your mother. She then told you "oh, that it is beautiful", however, she did not look at you, did not approach you and did not connect with your need to be valued. If this happens repeatedly, it will, most likely, impact your self-concept ("what I do is not important enough" "what I say is not interesting enough") and it will affect how my self-esteem develops. So it is important to consider that not only what we say about others is important, but how do we relate to them. Is the quality of the attachment and interaction that will affect our valuation of ourselves.
Regarding the self-concept, we can say that it influences the way we appreciate the events, situations and people in our life. If I have a negative perception of myself, I will not value my achievements the same as if my perception of myself is positive. At the same time, the self-concept influences considerably the behavior and the experiences of the individual. The person develops their self-concept, creates their own self-image
Self-esteem has 3 interrelated components
🌸Cognitive Component: the set of knowledge about oneself. The representation that each one forms about their own person. This varies according to psychological maturity and cognitive capacity. It indicates ideas, opinions, beliefs, perception, and information processing. Self-concept occupies a privileged place in the genesis, growth, and consolidation of self-esteem, and the remaining dimensions walk under the light that the self-concept projects to them, which in turn is accompanied by the self-image or mental representation that the person has of themselves in the present and in the future (aspirations and expectations).
🌸Affective Component: Value and worth that we attribute to ourselves and the degree to which we accept ourselves. It can have a positive or negative nuance according to our self-esteem: "There are many things about me that I like" or, on the other hand, "I don't do anything well, I'm useless." We make a judgment and have a feeling around our personal qualities.
🌸 Behavioral component: Related to intention, decision to act, and to carry out a process in a coherent way. It is self-affirmation directed towards the own self and in search of consideration and recognition on the part of others. It is the effort to achieve respect for others and for ourselves. It includes the set of skills and competencies that each person possesses when demonstrating their attitude to the outside.
🌸 Self-awareness has to do with knowing your strengths and weaknesses, understanding what are the personal qualities that you have.
🌸 Self-concept is the beliefs and ideas about oneself. The self-concept has to do with the cognitive dimension of what you believe about yourself, your self-perception. It will create your self-image and will impact the way you behave.
🌸 Self-evaluation is the inner capacity to evaluate our behaviour as positive or negative. Has to do with the meaning associated with our achievements and failures.
🌸 Self-acceptance has to do with an individual's acceptance of all of his/her attributes, positive or negative. Accepting all our parts as a whole. This does not mean that you like them, but you do accept them.
🌸 Self-respect means honoring your worth, preserving your dignity, and taking pride in your abilities, take responsibility for your emotions.
🌸 Self-esteem is a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. In other words, how much you appreciate yourself. Is the affective and emotional component of the self-concept.
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* Based in the work of Melanie Fennell , and the Self-Esteem Pyramid model of Jesús Diaz Ibañez
They, in turn, influence your emotions and your behaviour. They are also connected to the beliefs you have about yourself, the world, and others. These maladaptive thought patterns are usually automatic and can be difficult to identify if we aren’t aware of them.
We all experience cognitive distortions to some degree. However, people that have experienced trauma tend to have more maladaptive appraisals of self, others, and the world. They tend to experience more emotional discomfort because of those cognitive distortions. Threatening appraisals related to the trauma and its aftermath may be developed in those experiencing PTSD, such as the overgeneralisation of danger (‘bad things always happen to me’) or judgements of their own actions (‘I should have coped better’).
Based on Dr. Aaron Beck's work, Dr. Burns* has identified 10 common cognitive distortions that can contribute to uncomfortable emotions. These are:
1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.
Example: When a student makes a mistake in the exam, he thinks “I’ve blown my exam completely.”
Drawing a faulty conclusion about something based on one experience. You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never” when you think about it.
Example: you get rejected on a job interview and you conclude that you will never be able to find a job.
3. Mental Filter
You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes negative. You focus only on the negative aspects and dysqualify all the positive aspects.
Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.
4. Discounting the Positive
You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count." Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.
Example: If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone could have done as well.
5. Jumping to Conclusions:
- Mind reading
Assuming you know what others are thinking. So without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.
Example: someone looks at you with a stare and you assume they are negatively thinking about you.
You predict that things will turn out badly when you have no evidence to back your predictions. Before a test you may tell yourself, “I’m really going to blow it, what if I don't remember?"
6. Magnification and Minimization
You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.
Example: you get a message from your boyfriend saying that he wants to talk to you, and right away, you stat imagine the worst possible outcome.
7. Emotional Reasoning:
Assuming that your emotions reflect the truth.
Example: “I feel guilty. I must be a terrible person.”
8. “Should statements”
You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. “Musts,” “oughts” and “have tos” have the similar negative effect. “Should statements” that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general lead to anger and frustration.
Example: After giving a presentation at work you think “I shouldn’t have made so many mistakes.”, when in reality the presentation went pretty well.
Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. You feel that the problem is with that person’s “character” or “essence” instead of with their thinking or behavior.
Example: You may make a mistakes, but you are not a "mistake".
10. Personalization and blame
Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they might be contributing to the problem. Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy.
Example: you believe you are a bad father because your child gets in troube at school.
⚠️ Disclaimer: This article serves as a psycho-educational resource only. I encourage you to discuss with your therapist how this applies to your unique situation. Everyone’s experience is different and some information might not be relevant to you.
*Burns D. (1989). The Feeling Good Handbook. Harper-Collins Publishers. New York.
It is important to understand what is your communication style and learn what are the main communication mistakes, to learn not to make them!
🗣️ What is your communication style?
Assertive communication is based on balance.
It is about saying what you need in a clear and boundaried way, at the same time that you respect the other person. These individuals value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and are strong advocates for themselves while being very respectful of the rights of others.
e.g. I feel scared when
you raise your voice.
I would like you to speak
in a softer tone.
Aggressive communication is based on winning.
You do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings, or desires of other people. When someone uses aggressive communication, they want to use their power to influence the decision / outcome. They may come across as pushy or even bullying. Their power is used to win, taking what they want without asking for the other person's opinion or needs.
e.g. Shut up!
Your tone is so loud.
Keep it down!
Passive communication is based on avoidance.
You try to avoid conflict by agreeing with the other person. You try to protect yourself by not expressing your feelings, needs, or opinions.
As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations. Instead, they allow grievances and annoyances to mount, usually unaware of the buildup. But once they have reached their high tolerance threshold for unacceptable behavior, they are prone to explosive outbursts, which are usually out of proportion to the triggering incident. After the outburst, however, they may feel shame, guilt, and confusion, so they return to being passive.
ej. Okay, if that is
what you want...
Passive-aggressive communication is based on manipulation
You appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way.
Passive-aggressive communication is a style in which individuals appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. People who develop a pattern of passive-aggressive communication usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful – in other words, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the object (real or imagined) of their resentments.
e.g. You can keep yelling,
if I have a headache
afterwards it will be
your fault, like
🆘 Main communication mistakes
1. Using "You" language
Relationships should not be a competition. Speaking with “me vs. you” language means seeing the other person as the “enemy.” Talking from a "you" perspective will make the listener defensive.
Try to use "I statements" instead to convey how you feel about the situation. An "I" statement is a style of communication that focuses on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker rather than thoughts or charactistics that the speaker attributes to the listener.
"I" statements can help foster positive communication in relationships and may help them become stronger, as sharing feelings and thoughts in an honest and open manner can help people grow closer on an emotional level.
I have made a post about this. Check it out here.
Another positive way to have a conversation to solve an issue is communicating using "we". Try to reframe the "you" to "we" and think of yourselves as a team. Work together, not against each other.
2. Making assumptions
Assuming before you have heard the whole story could damage the relationship.
Thinking “Oh I don’t even have to hear the rest of this – I already know what they’re going to say!” could bring you to a wrong conclusion about the other person. I am sure you would not like other people assuming things about what you have said, so do not do it to others either.
Active listening and asking instead of assuming will help in the communication process and make coming to an agreement more feasible.
3. Beating around the bush
Not being clear in what you want to say can create misunderstandings. If you are not clear and concise with your message, the other person may do their own interpretation.
Be assertive with your message. Say what you need and why it is important without disrespecting the other person.
4. Lack of empathy
It is important to keep in mind that perception is not reality. What you may see and think is not necessarily what the other person sees and thinks.
It is typical to see people attacking each other's character (e.g. "you are a bad person") instead of what they say or do (e.g. "your behaviour is not acceptable").
It is important to empathize with the other person and try to understand why they have behaved the way they did. By asking questions about their motives we can build up compassion and understand. From that place, it is easier to come to a resolution and learn from the future.
Let me know in comments, what are your thoughts about this and if you have identified your main mistakes.
🌸Evolution has shown that anxiety is an adaptive response and is beneficial for survival.
💫We know that emotions are cognitive and somatic reactions, with a short duration, to specific environmental stimuli.
👍There is an infinite number of human experiences that cause normal anxiety. As research has shown, the main difference between adaptive or normal anxiety and pathological anxiety is between the source and the intensity of the experience.
🧘♀️We could apply this to all range of emotions. We can feel sad because is appropriate in a specific situation, but if we feel sad chronically without a clear "reason" this may become a problem to keep up with our daily activities.
💕We can say that emotions play a crucial role in our daily lives enabling us to cope with everyday situations.
🆘However, if the emotion we are feeling gets "stuck" and prevents us from functioning it may have become a problem and therapy could be sought to help.
🌸COPING WITH ANXIETY🌸
- Identify the trigger
Spend some time writing or thinking about what is the trigger that makes you feel anxious.
- Move your body
Do some gentle stretching, go for a walk, use the yoga ball and bounce, release it by shaking, do a self-massage, etc.
- Take long deep breaths
Deep breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system that is responsible for resting and digestion (calming effect)
- Practice mindfulness
Look around and focus your 5 senses on the present moment.
- Be compassionate
Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. Use kind, validating & encouraging words.
- Take action- Do something you enjoy
Don't stay in the "why" you feel anxious. Instead, think about "what" do you need to do to feel better. Do something that is aligned with your values & brings you joy.
The autonomic nervous system responds to the challenges of daily life by telling us not what we are or who we are but how we are in our bodies. Regulating trauma through the body is necessary to integrate the experience. Cognitive work around the narrative and meaning of the trauma experience will come in a later stage in therapy.
⚠️The autonomic nervous system manages risk and creates patterns of connection by changing our physiological state. These shifts are slight for many people, and, in the moments when large state changes happen, their system is resilient enough to help them return to a regulated state.
🚫Trauma interrupts the process of building the autonomic circuitry of safe connection and
sidetracks the development of regulation and resilience. Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection.
🧐If unresolved, these early adaptive survival responses become habitual autonomic patterns.
💮Therapy supports clients in repatterning the ways their autonomic nervous systems operate when the drive to survive competes with the longing to connect with others.
🤷No matter how incongruous an action may look from the outside, from an autonomic perspective it is always an adaptive survival response. The autonomic nervous system doesn’t make a judgment about good and bad; it simply acts to manage risk and seek safety.
Ways to regulate through the senses:
Find a posture that brings a sense of being anchored in ventral vagal regulation. Then, begin to slowly move inward by lowering the head, bending forward, and pulling in the arms and legs, while closely, tracking the autonomic state. Moving from center inward, there are nuances of quiet, deep relaxation, and peaceful stillness shaped by an active vagal brake. Try to track the subtle shifts and describe the experience with each change.
Touch is one of the basic ways we communicate. Looking at touch from an evolutionary perspective, people who worked closely together survived and were successful, and it may be that physical contact promoted that closeness. Touch is the first sense to emerge in utero and the most developed at birth. Skin is the largest human organ, and touch is integral to our growth and development. Early touch experiences shape adult experiences. Receiving moderate pressure massage experienced a shift from fight- fight state to social engagement/ connected state, while light massage brought and increased activation response. Touch stimulates the autonomic nervous system, and supports reducing depression, pain, and stress and increased immune function.
One way to use movement to shape the autonomic nervous system is to use a yoga ball. Sitting on a yoga ball requires constant micro-movements. For people who tend toward collapse/ freeze, making the small, ongoing body adjustments necessary to avoid falling off the yoga ball keeps enough energy moving in their system to stay out of shutdown, and consequently, they are more able to stay present. Even before birth, when we are still safe inside the womb, movement is essential to life.
📚Deb Dana -Polyvagal Theory in Therapy
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Let me know if this is useful for you, in comments.
🌸 3 emotional regulation systems from the Compassion Focus Therapy (CFT) model by Paul Gilbert 🌸
↪️There are three particularly important emotional regulating systems that work with each other to help us to manage the ups and downs of life’s challenges by helping us to calm our emotional experiences. Each system is designed to do different things and also to work with the other systems so they remain in balance with each other.
💫Supposing something has upset us, what are the things we might do to help ourselves feel better? We could use the drive system to do something we want to achieve, such working, a pleasurable activity or going for a walk/run and this could help in the short term. On the other hand, activating the soothing system could help long term. Often, we find talking to other people can make us feel better because we feel supported, understood, and validated and this really does help us to feel better when we are upset. This is because the soothing system is calming down our threat-based emotions. Same as when we were babies and our caregivers soothe us.
🏁The drive system
▪️The purpose is to motivate us towards resources. It stimulates and directs our desires so we achieve things. It helps pursue our goals. It is known as the incentive & resource-seeking system.
▪️The feelings associated are achieving, pursuing, progressing, wanting. It is activating. It makes us feel driven, excited, vitality.
▪️The hormone released when the system gets activated is dopamine. It plays an important role in how we feel pleasure. It helps us strive, focus & find things interesting.
⚠️The threat system
▪️The purpose is to pick up on threats quickly. It activates us to flight or fight. This is the "fall back system", the easiest of all to feel & trigger as it has evolved as a protection system.
▪️The feelings associated are anxiety, anger, disgust, fear. These feelings alert our bodies urging us to take action against the threat. It produces a sympathetic response in our bodies (racing heart, shallow breathing, raise blood pressure, etc.)
▪️The hormones released when the system gets activated are cortisol & adrenaline.
🥰The soothing system
▪️The purpose is to help us regulate the other two systems, and experience states of contentedness. It helps to restore our balance. It helps soothing feelings of distress.
▪️The feeling associated is contentment. This is a form of being happy with the way things are, feeling safe, not striving or wanting; an inner peacefulness. This system is linked to affection, connection, kindness & compassion.
▪The hormones released when the system gets activated are oxytocin & endorphins.
It is important to balance activities from each system in order to improve our well-being and prevent feelings of anxiety and low mood.
Hope you find this post useful!!
Ask any questions in comments 🙂
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🧐Have you heard of the inner child?
🌸This is an unconscious part of ourselves that represents childhood experiences, some of which are the product of unresolved relational trauma.
💫By working our parts we can help heal the wounds that we carry. The younger version of the self is the "inner child" part that, is usually protected by some other parts that we have developed over time.
🌻Human beings are not as simple as we would like to think. We are complex systems of interacting "parts" with a variety of emotions & motivations.
↪️Each inner part gets activated at certain times. Some of our parts are in pain, and others want to protect us from feeling that pain. Some try to manage how we interact with people, some are locked in battles with each other. And all this is going on largely outside our conscious awareness. All we know is that sometimes we feel anxious, content, scared, frustrated, happy, etc.
🌸Unpicking these different parts of the Self can help us integrate and learn how to make these parts work together with each other as a harmonious "inner family" that supports your interaction with the world.
🌸Inner parts are natural divisions in the psyche. Sometimes they can be in conflict & sometimes in synchronicity.
This is why you may hear different voices in your mind telling you "apparent" conflicting information.
💫However, part of the therapeutic work is to be able to feel safe enough to listen to the different parts, in order to welcome them, and integrate them with compassion & understanding.
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🙋🏼♀️To overcome perfectionism we have to learn to accept reality as it is at any given moment.
🙅🏾A perfectionist rejects the present as not being good enough and gets stuck in a state of perfectionistic dissatisfaction.
🙍🏼♂️To a perfectionist, the presence is absence of what could be.
💫It is time to shift this view and think about the present as presence of all that can be, and an opportunity to be mindfully present with what is 🙏
🌸Make a better tomorrow learning to enjoy and accepting the present of now🌸
💮There is no alternate reality at any given point in time other than the one that we experience. We can think of things being different from how they are, but this ideal reality exists only in our minds.
🌻There is a common narrow understanding of perfection itself. We see it as an ideal state: flawless, error-free, so complete that nothing can be added to make it better. Perfection is seen as a state that is beyond improvement.
↪️Well, here is the paradox, if perfection is a state beyond improvement, then is not every moment, by definition perfect?
💁🏽Yes, the present is already perfect. After all, any given moment of reality is what it is in the sense that it cannot be anything other than what it is "right now".
While we could take the lessons of this moment and try to make the next moment better, this very moment is beyond improvement.
🌻Try to begin to notice the ordinary perfection of the present🌻
🌸Present is Perfect🌸
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🌬️Introducing a few breathing exercises to your day can help you to:
🔸Reduce stress - increase calm
🔸Improve your focus
🔸Lower your blood pressure
🔸Lower your heart rate
🔸Improve core muscle stability
🔸Support correct posture
🔸Stimulate the lymphatic system - detoxify the body
🔎There has been a lot of research around the benefits of deep, controlled breathing, which involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing. Research shows that aiming for six to 10 deep breaths per minute has vast and complex physiological effects.
❇️Breathing just happens on an automatic basis and it is dictated by the autonomic nervous system, centered in the brain stem. Nerve cells there signal the diaphragm and other muscles to inspire and expire. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the inhale and the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the exhale. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and skeletal muscle tone, preparing the body for rest, sleep, or digestion. During exhalation, the vagus nerve (check my previous post to know more) secretes a transmitter substance (ACh) which causes deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system, producing a sense of calm.
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🌸Breathe in. Breathe out🌸
We do this all day, every day without a thought. Ask yourself "when was the last time you took a deep breath?" Probably not as frequently as you think. Did you know that deep breathing is one of our easiest, most convenient, and natural tools to manage stress and anxiety, reduce pain, high blood pressure, and even support digestion? In my next post I will show you how to breathe diaphragmatically.
1. Get comfortable with your back straight
2. Place one hand on your belly
3. Count "one, two, three" seconds on the inhale
4. Breathe in through your nose . Let your belly full with air , then your chest and collar bones
5. Count "one, two" on the pause
6. Count "one, two, three, four" seconds on the exhale
7. Exhale using your stomach muscles to push out the last of the air
8. Count "one, two" on the pause
9. Repeat three more times
⚠️Warning: some people with experiences of trauma can feel deep breathing unsafe and get more anxious when doing it. Please check in with your therapist and listen to your body while trying a new strategy.
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❇️ Did you know that Dissociation is a protective reaction and occurs on a spectrum?
👉 There are various areas to the dissociative spectrum between what is normal and what is quite extreme levels. Some people may mostly have one of these but some have a mixture of many depending on the severity of the event.
🧠 Our brain uses different levels of dissociation to protect us from feeling pain when feelings and sensations are too overwhelming that take all the resources of the person to cope.
🔹Experiencing dissociation is part of the parasympathetic nervous system 'freeze - collapse' response.
⚡The spectrum of Dissociation from Low to Extreme
- autopilot mode in routine tasks
- zoning out
- PTSD- trauma
- amnesia & memory problems
- depersonalization & derealization
- identity alteration
- dissociative identity disorder (DID)
🛸Sometimes it is described as the experience of being a “passenger” in one’s body, rather than the driver.
🤔What to do if you experience dissociation?
🔹Keep a journal
Write down thoughts, emotions & situations that have triggered you during the day. Try a gratitude journal.
Use your 5 senses. Use movement & body posture to feel grounded. Use positive affirmations. Use imagery & visualization. Create a soothing box.
Focus on the present moment through breathwork. Pay attention to your surroundings. Use meditation & relaxation techniques.
🔹Sleep & diet & exercise
Have a routine. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time. Eat healthy foods, avoid caffeine & alcohol. Exercise regularly
❇️ exercises for dissociative symptoms ❇️
👉The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. I recommend that one of the things you touch is yourself. Apply a bit of pressure if you can.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.
👉Another helpful thing to do is to create a SOOTHING BOX with different materials and items that enhance your senses. You can put in the box different things such as scents, oils, fabrics, stress balls, nature items, objects with different textures, smooth stones, a blanket, etc. Focus on the sensations you are feeling when you interact with the elements in the box.
🤗Tell me in comments if these are useful
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