overcome low self esteem

Who’s the most important person in your life?

Your wife, your kids, maybe you even answered Fido the dog.

Whatever you said unless the answer was “I am” then you’re wrong!

“How selfish” I hear you say, “I always put everybody before myself” and this may very well be true but if you and your happiness aren’t the most important thing in your life then you are doing all the other people you care about a disservice. For if you’re not happy in yourself and I mean truly look in the mirror and smile because you are so pleased with just being you happy, how can you be fulfilled in other areas of your life and if you’re not fulfilled in them then it’s guaranteed those that you care about aren’t getting the best of you.

Self-esteem is the key to happiness and it’s the first thing you can effect for yourself that will improve the lives of those around you.

I don’t know whether I have low self-esteem.

Take a minute to think over these questions:

  • Do you have confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve things?
  • Are you self-confident?
  • Do you say no even when you just want to say yes?
  • Would you like to have more respect for yourself?
  • Do you think other people are better than you?
  • How do you deal with criticism, objectively or does a negative comment effect your confidence?

Do your answers suggest you may be suffering from low self-esteem? If so you were probably already aware of it but deciding to do something about it isn’t easy.

Low self-esteem can come from anywhere. Often we were programmed with it to some extent as children. In our formative years being told we aren’t very good at something, are to too tall, too short or whatever it may be can have a negative impact on our self-esteem later in life. It’s not unusual, the vast majority of people have at least one Achilles heel that previous experiences meant their not confident in. The question is to what extent these thoughts or views of yourself impact on your life and that of those around you.

The great news is that low self-esteem isn’t set in stone. Working with a counsellor or life coach you may be surprised how quickly you can turn it around and start to enjoy life the way you’ve always wanted to.

I will lay out some great techniques for combatting low self-esteem later in the week but for now give yourself a little me time and try out the following task:

Plotting the events of your life on a graph will enable you to see the significant moments.

 On the horizontal line add a timescale for your life – at what point did the event happen?

On the vertical line add a scale from one to ten with one being unhappy or sad and ten as fantastic.

 Go through your significant life events as you see them adding them to the horizontal line as and when they occurred.

Now mark where on the vertical line they should sit as you remember them.

Spend a little time looking at the graph you’ve created and reflect on the individual events and at what stage in your life they occurred.

 Are there any trends you can see? Do happy events all sit close together and similarly sad events? Are they all jumbled up? Can you see any links between them? Whatever the result is what does it mean to you and your self-esteem?

Understanding how your life events have impacted on your self-esteem can help you recognise the danger when similar things happen again and this in turn will leave you better armed to deal with them in the future.

 At The Cambridge Counsellor we can offer counselling, life coaching and hypnotherapy that can help you work through self-esteem issues and teach you techniques that will enable you to move forward with your life with confidence. If you’d like to discuss how we may be able to help you please feel free to contact us.

What is happiness and how can you achieve it?

What is happiness?

If you ask someone what they most want from their life the majority will say “to be happy”. Being “happy” is a major goal for human beings and a subject that has fascinated thinkers, philosophers and teachers for centuries. 

It could be a moment of serenity, a feeling of joy when you’re having fun, a connection with someone you love or just the satisfaction of knowing that you’re living your life with purpose.

People naturally want to feel happy, but is it something you can create or does it just happen accidentally? The true paradox of happiness is it seems that the more you chase it, the more elusive it can be.

Buddhism declares that the pursuit of happiness is the root cause of unhappiness, in itself causing a dissatisfaction with life that is borne out of craving. Modern science now agrees with this ancient spiritual wisdom. People that chase happiness, that value it above all else, often set standards for themselves that are impossible to obtain and this leads them to feelings of disappointment. So, is it possible to build enduring wellbeing without falling into the trap of chasing happiness?

The good news is that science is now starting to answer some of these questions. “Positive psychology” is investigating questions such as how do we flourish, what gives us meaning and what makes us happy. It has been around since the turn of the century and is starting to produce consistent evidence as to what it takes to improve our happiness. Positive psychology identifies and creates “treatment methods or intentional activities that aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviours or cognitions” and according to studies by Sonja Lyumbomirsky and Nancy Sim they have been shown to significantly enhance “happiness” and reduce depressive symptoms.

As a counsellor I have worked with many clients over the years, along the way gaining an insight in to what happiness (or lack of it) actually looks like. All of that experience has led me to believe that happiness is widely misunderstood and certainly isn’t something that just happens to people.

Over the coming weeks I am going to explore “happiness”, what it means and what are the “happiness” habits we can all practice in order to enhance our psychological wellbeing.