RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Building Positive Self Esteem

In Outreach on March 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

There are many people who have problems with self esteem, particularly those who have been abused. Whether the abuse was physical, emotional or sexual, survivors often question themselves, “Was it my fault?”, “Why didn’t I stop it?”, “I must be a bad person for this to have happened to me.”, “Why didn’t I…”, “What could I have done…”, “What’s wrong with me?”, “What if it happens again?”.

It was Not your fault. You are Not a bad person. The perpetrator made a decision to abuse you; the fault lies solely and firmly with them alone.  No one deserves to be abused, assaulted or raped.

Poor self esteem manifest itself in many areas. In relationships the survivor may not assert themselves, making it easier for others to dominate the relationship or even reabuse them. The survivor may think, “I’m a bad person, I deserve this treatment.”  At work the survivor may be passed over for a promotion or raise because they don’t want to appear overly eager.

How can someone overcome these feelings of inadequacy? A good start is to look at the positives in your life. Do you have a place to live? Do you have a positive relationship in your life? Do you have a job you find satisfying? Are there other areas of your life that give you pleasure? Maybe involvement with your church or other group activities. If not check with your local Chamber of Commerce, friends, co-workers or relatives to see what activities they are involved in that may interest you.  In his book, The Everything Self Esteem Book, Robert M. Sherfild, Ph.D. states, “Generally speaking, people with self esteem issues have a tendency to:

  • Act immature and have poor interpersonal skills
  • Participate in self destructive behaviors
  • Become angry and lose their tempers quickly
  • Sacrifice their identity for the sake of “fitting in.”
  • Dodge reality and unpleasant situations
  • Enjoy the demise or humiliation of others
  • Criticize themselves and others frequently
  • Act superior and brag incessantly
  • Overreact when criticized in any manner
  • Engage in self-sabotage
  • Put little value on their opinions and ideas
  • Focus on perceived weakness and faults
  • Give little credit to their skills and assests
  • Believe others are better than they are
  • Feel like failures compared to others
  • Doubt their ability to achieve success

One way to help overcome poor self –esteem is to help others. Dr Sherfield states that “Giving can include money and material gifts, but it also encompasses a much larger array than tangible goods. Giving of yourself, your time, your talents, and your soul are some of the most nourishing acts in building healthy self-esteem.”

Dr. Sherfield lists the following steps for maintaining a healthy self-esteem;

  • Make wellness a priority
  • Make choices that directly affect your well-being
  • Do not ignore your personal needs
  • Replace aggression with assertion
  • Communicate with yourself
  • Practice integrity in every action
  • Accept responsibility for your life and your actions
  • Practice altruistic giving and sharing
  • Be true to yourself
  • Leave shoulda, woulda, coulda behind
  • Forgive your past
  • Move on
  • Remove contaminated people from your life
  • Live in your spiritual nature
  • Make an effort to grow in some way every day
  • Spend time being creative and “out there”
  • Learn to live on the light side
  • Practice optimism
  • Visualize your life as you would have it
  • Strive for some joy every day
  • Find people whom you love and who love you
  • Build people up
  • If someone applauds you don’t ask why
  • Set goals for your personal success
  • Find passion and purpose in your work
  • Allow yourself to listen with empathy
  • Let go of perfection
  • Learn to say no when you want to say no
  • Find what brings you harmony and stick to it

No one deserves to be abused or assaulted. It is a devastating, life-changing experience. Counseling and positive relationships are extremely helpful in the healing process. It will take hard work but self esteem can be regained with dedication, time, effort and persistence and is well worth the effort for the “new you” on an exciting new road.


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