Do You Feel Like You’re Just Not Good Enough?
Are you struggling with feelings of low self-worth? Do you often feel like you’re “less than” others or that there’s something wrong with you? Does the idea of self-acceptance seem off-putting or even repulsive to you? No matter what you achieve, maybe it seems like there’s always a critical voice in your head telling you you’re a failure. As a result, perhaps you’re afraid to pursue romantic relationships or go after your dream job. Deep down, you may feel like you just won’t amount to anything in life.
Oftentimes, low self-esteem can be traced back to emotional wounds that stem from childhood. Early on in life, perhaps you learned that there were certain things about yourself that weren’t acceptable to your family, friends, or culture. As a result, you may have learned to accentuate, inhibit, or disown parts of your personality in order to adapt to your environment. Over time, this may have led to a lack of knowing yourself and self-confidence.
At the moment, perhaps you feel like your identity is defined by insecurity. Or, you may not even think you have low self-esteem at all — you simply see yourself as you really are (“no good”). However, how you’ve come to view yourself likely has more to do with how you were raised and what you’ve gone through than it does with your actual identity. In self-esteem counseling, my goal is to help you heal the emotional wounds that prevent you from feeling content and secure in your own skin.
All Of Us Disown Parts Of Ourselves That We Feel Are Unacceptable
We learn to express ourselves based on what we were taught is acceptable by peers, family, and society at large. Oftentimes, this leads us to disown certain elements of our personality in order to gain the approval of others. For instance, if you grew up with a depressed caregiver, showing too much excitement or joy may have been unacceptable, so you learned to dampen your positive emotions in order to fit the mood of your caregiver. On the other hand, if you were a creative artist who grew up in an athletic household that couldn’t appreciate your sensitivity, you may have disavowed parts of your true nature to remain close to your family. In this way, disowning parts of your true self helped you adapt and survive attachment injuries, but at the cost of harm to your well-being.
Today, we live in a society that is obsessed with success. Many people strip away elements of their personalities that don’t align with the culture’s notion of success. If they don’t measure up to the top one percent of society—whether in looks, money, or fame—they get the message they aren’t good enough. As a result, they live in a continual cycle of “compare-and-despair” that leaves them feeling down about themselves.
Improving self-esteem on your own can be difficult, especially if you’ve been stuck in this pattern for a long time, are enduring current stress, or there’s a history of trauma. After all, if you genuinely believe you’re a failure or that you aren’t worthy of love, then you may not even recognize this storyline as low self-esteem. In self-esteem counseling, I want to help you understand that you weren’t born thinking negatively about yourself and there are more positive and empowering ways to define yourself.
Counseling Can Help You Transform Distorted Beliefs And Improve Your Self-Esteem
The human personality is fraught with contradiction. It probably feels like there are a million different voices telling you what to believe about yourself at any given moment. In therapy, you have a chance to sort through these voices and figure out which ones are nurturing to you.
The core approach underlying my practice is called Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP), which is a form of somatic therapy. One goal of SP is to help you differentiate between the thoughts, feelings, and impulses of your wounded, traumatized self (the part of you that feeds your low self-esteem) and your Higher Self (the wise, secure part of your identity). This is done by helping you pay close attention to the interplay between your body and mind. For instance, if you inhibit your emotions and carry the belief that you can’t be yourself, this may manifest in a flat, matter-of-fact tone of voice or tightness in your chest. Or if you believe there’s something wrong with you, this may result in an inflated chest and posture, which helps you cover up how you feel inside. Exploring how your body organizes itself around negative self-beliefs can help you access the earlier memories in which these beliefs developed. Doing so gives your adult-self the opportunity to meet the needs of the younger, disowned, wounded parts of yourself, resulting in a more integrated sense of being.
Another method I use to target and heal unprocessed wounds or traumas is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. The goal of EMDR Therapy is to help you process and resolve shaming messages that you internalized in the past. For instance, if you suffered from bullying, neglect, or abuse when you were young, EMDR can help you reduce the emotional impact of these experiences and offer a new perspective. In this way, we can transform the distorted self-beliefs that stem from past trauma into beliefs that are compassionate and empowering.
I also draw from an approach called Internal Family Systems (IFS). At its core, IFS is built on the idea that the Self is made up of many different self-parts. The first objective is to map out all the parts that contribute to your low self-esteem. Some key players may include the inner Critic, the Self-Saboteur, and the Doubter. Mapping out these parts means being mindful of the way they show up in your body and mind so that you do not think the things they say come from you, your Higher Self.
The second objective includes befriending these parts. With my guidance, I’ll help you dialogue with these parts of you so that you understand what purpose they serve. For instance, your Inner Critic may create feelings of shame and hopelessness, but it is actually trying to help you. The Critic uses harsh language to prevent you from failure, or discourages you from trying in life so you don’t end up embarrassing yourself. Understanding your Inner Critic’s well-meaning attempts to protect you will help soften the Critic and reveal previously neglected parts of yourself.
In particular, unmasking the critical voice in your head can help you uncover old memories in which you felt unworthy. This will allow you to re-connect with the “child” part of yourself—the part that longs for care and affection. The child part is the part of you that your inner critic protected you from remembering. Supporting and befriending the child part can help you free yourself from the negative beliefs that the inner critic has fed it.
In the end, it’s important to remember that low self-esteem is usually developed in reaction to your upbringing and environment. My goal is to help you disown cultural or familial messages you internalized that don’t align with your truth, and reclaim or acquire the values and beliefs that fit with your Higher Self.
You may have some questions about self-esteem therapy…
How do I know if I have low self-esteem?
There are many questions you can ask to figure out whether or not you suffer from low self-esteem. Did you grow up in a dysfunctional home where you were taught not to feel good about yourself? Do you have a tendency to amplify your failures and disregard your successes? Does fear of failure hold you back in life? Do you ignore your own needs in order to fulfill the needs of others? If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, then self-esteem counseling can help you reconnect with a fuller picture of who you really are.
What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem doesn’t come out of thin air. Shaming cultural messages, child abuse, survivor guilt, and overwhelming life decisions may lead you to believe that you aren’t good enough or that there’s something wrong with you. Our work together will target the memories that these negative self-beliefs grew out of. This will help you understand that there are other ways of viewing yourself and that you are not confined to the self-beliefs you may have adopted throughout your life.
What if I had a normal childhood with supportive friends and family?
Regardless of how great our parents were or how healthy our home life was, we are all still exposed to harmful messages. And if you have a more sensitive nervous system, this means you are more prone to internalize these messages. Everyone’s nervous system is wired differently—we don’t get to choose whether our nervous systems are sensitive or not. Self-esteem counseling is a chance to show yourself compassion for the way you are wired.
Learn To Connect With Your Higher Self And Embrace The Real You
Self-esteem counseling can help you reclaim the essence of who you really are and improve your confidence in ways you never thought possible. To get started, you can use the contact page to set up a free, 20-minute video consultation.