Laois psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy is the resident expert on RTE's Operation Transformation.
Low self esteem can hit us all from time to time, because we can all feel bad about ourselves occasionally.
Feelings of low self-esteem may be triggered by being treated poorly by someone else recently or in the past, or by a person’s own judgments of him or herself. This is normal.
However, in my view low self-esteem is a constant companion for too many people, especially those who experience depression, anxiety, phobias, thinking, or who have an illness or a disability.
If you are one of these people, you may go through life feeling bad about yourself needlessly.
Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying life, doing the things you want to do, and working toward personal goals.
I fundamentally believe we all havethe right to feel good about ourselves.
However, it can be very difficult to feel good about yourself when you are under the stress of having symptoms that are hard to manage, when you are dealing with a disability, when you are having a difficult time, or when others are treating you badly.
At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem.
Self-esteem & Depression
Many times low self-esteem is associated with depression. Low self-esteem is a feature of depression.
To make things even more complicated, the depression may be a symptom of some other illness.
Have you felt sad consistently for several weeks but don't know why you are feeling so sad, i.e. nothing terribly bad has happened, or maybe something bad has happened but you haven't been able to get rid of the feelings of sadness?
Is this accompanied by other changes, like wanting to eat all the time or having no appetite, wanting to sleep all the time or waking up very early and not being able to get back to sleep?
If you answered yes then you need to go to your GP
Raise Self Esteem
You can raise your self esteem using positive affirmations.
With this, too often negative self-talk emerges, like "I'm no good."
Essentially there is a lack of self-compassion, the harsh internal critically voice takes over.
To counteract this you will need some positive affirmations. These are positive statements that you can make about yourself that make you feel better about yourself.
They describe ways you would like to feel about yourself all the time.
They may not, however, describe how you feel about yourself right now.
The following examples of affirmations will help you in making your own list of affirmations —
I am a good person
I feel good about myself
I take good care of myself.
I eat right, get plenty of exercise, do things I enjoy
I spend my time with people who are nice to me and make me feel good about myself
I deserve to be alive
Many people like me
I am a very special, unique, and valuable person.
I deserve to feel good about myself.
I am lovable
I am a good friend
I am worthy
Make a list of your own affirmations. Keep this list in a handy place, like your pocket or purse.
You may want to make copies of your list so you can have them in several different places of easy access.
Read the affirmations over and over to yourself—aloud whenever you can. Write them down from time to time.
As you do this, the affirmations tend to gradually become true for you. You gradually come to feel better and better about yourself.
Develop a scrapbook that celebrates you and the wonderful person you are.
Include pictures of yourself at different ages, writings you enjoy, mementos of things you have done and places you have been.
Or set up a place in your home that celebrates "you." It could be on a shelf, or table.
Decorate the space with objects that remind you of the special person you are.
If you don't have a private space that you can leave set up, put the objects in a special bag, box, or your purse and set them up in the space whenever you do this work.
Do this for your children. Take them out and look at them whenever you need to bolster your self-esteem.
Now when you read your list, don't deny it OR don't argue with what has been written, just accept it! Read this paper over and over.
Keep it in a place where you will see it often.
Get a calendar with large blank spaces for each day.
Schedule into each day some small thing you would enjoy doing, such as "smelling a flower, ," "call my sister," "walk a dog," "buy a new magazine ," "tell my son I love him," "bake," "lie in the sun for 20 minutes," "wear my favourite perfume," etc.
Now make a commitment to check your "enjoy life" calendar every day and do whatever you have scheduled for yourself.
Go create, rebuild, nourish and grow – because you are wonderful.
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