What Do You Think Of Yourself?
Self-esteem is the extent to which we like and respect ourselves. This depends largely upon how we envision ourselves in our own mind’s eye; how we think about ourselves. The thoughts that run through our mind constantly create or destroy our self-esteem.
It’s easy to feel insignificant and flawed. All it takes is picking up a magazine filled with impossibly beautiful, perfectly formed men and women, or watching TV, or reading the newspaper, or surfing the web. There seems to always be someone, somewhere, doing something wonderfully fabulous that can make our lives seem dull, boring and unimportant. If you view your life as dull, boring and unimportant, it’s pretty hard to like and respect yourself.
Research shows that there is a high correlation between self-esteem and overall life satisfaction. Virtually every part of your life, including your relationships, your job and your health can be affected by your self-esteem.
Changing the way you think about yourself is critical to increasing your self-esteem. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques such as identifying your negative and inaccurate thinking is the first step. Challenging these beliefs about yourself is essential.
Checklist of Common Cognitive Distortions
- All-or-nothing thinking You look at things in absolute black-and-white categories.
- Over generalization You view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
- Mental filter You dwell on the negatives.
- Discounting the positives You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don’t count.
- Jumping to conclusions
Mind-reading you assume that people are reacting negatively to you when there’s no definite evidence;
Fortune-telling you arbitrarily predict that things will turn out badly.
- Magnification or minimization You blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance.
- Emotional reasoning You reason from how you feel “I feel like an idiot, so I really must be one.”
- “Should statements” You criticize yourself (or other people) with “shoulds,” “oughts,” “musts” and “have to’s.”
- Labeling Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I’m a jerk,” or “a fool,” or “a loser.”
- Personalization and blame You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and deny your role in the problem.
How often does your thinking fall into one of these patterns? If you are criticizing yourself and comparing yourself to others, you are setting yourself up for self-dislike. This is a primary contributing factor to many conditions such as depression, anxiety, excessive worrying, substance abuse, and even psychosomatic illnesses like headaches, stomachaches, and digestive tract upsets.
Working with a CBT therapist to eliminate inaccurate beliefs and replace them with more realistic beliefs can help you change your perspective and develop healthier self-esteem.