A survivor of child abuse knows that their self esteem bucket had holes punched all over it…Some of their buckets were run over by a semi-truck and trailer. Some abuse survivors can still hear the ‘beep, beep, beep’ of that truck backing up. Words like what Pavelka mentions for his toolbox seem like a foreign language.
Fill Up Your Self Esteem Tank
It is your responsibility to keep your self esteem tank full. Recognize this and do something everyday to top it up: laugh, take exercise, sing, go see someone who motivates you, read a great book.
A large portion of my counseling time was spent learning what self esteem meant and how to recognize it if it bit me on the butt. My counselor kindly explained that I had none except when it came to fixing computers. He helped me recognize that I felt good about one aspect of my life. He then encouraged that feeling to other parts of my life.
Here is a fairly decent definition of self-esteem: accurate self-knowledge and respect for who you are. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/self-esteem)
Self acceptance is at the center of self- esteem. Learning to love myself was a massive challenge. I didn’t like myself so the thought of thinking myself as good at anything was a major struggle. He started with my acceptance that I am good at fixing computers. He then expanded it to I am a kind person. I pick up worms off the sidewalk after it rains. It was a silly example but it got me to think differently about myself. One of the first steps to healing was and continues to be self acceptance. I then can build self-esteem. There are literally hundreds of books, articles and web pages on this one subject. Many of them contradict each other. I am not surprised. People respond to different ways of approaching this issue. What builds one persons self esteem doesn’t do much for someone else. I also learned that self-esteem is an inside job. I cannot go to the store, counseling, or doctor office and ask for 10 ounces of self-esteem. I kept seeking praise from outside myself, it put a temporary bandage on a gushing wound. I learned as a child, “Love your neighbor, as thyself.” I need to care for myself as much as I care for other people. My counselor challenged me with the thought that I cannot love others more than I love myself. It was an unsettling thought. I love my husband and my children. I didn’t want to feel about them the way I felt about myself. It pushed me hard to wake up to how I feel about and treat myself. My counselor started with the 5/50 project. Do kind things for other people every day that take no more than 5 minutes and cost less than 50 cents. Self knowledge and recognizing I do kind things was the beginning. Warm fuzzy box started before counseling. The idea came from SHE Side-track Home Executive, a book I read on how to get organized in my home. https://www.amazon.com/Sidetracked-Home-Executives-TM-Paradise/dp/0446677671 The authors presented the idea of a warm fuzzy box to remind myself that good things happen, that I do good things. Another book that my daughter gave me was “How Full is your Bucket?” https://www.amazon.com/How-Full-Your-Bucket-Rath/dp/1595620036/ I worked on this problem for years. For me, it took counseling to tear out my corrupt foundation that I was taught as a child: I was bad, I made my mother mad, I made her angry because I woke her up, I couldn’t keep my mother happy, I was a bad girl so must be punished….all these lies had to be ripped out and I needed new programing at the core of myself. This took radical change of thinking about myself. I am a work in progress. Every day I need, that is the correct word NEED, to do things that build my positive self image. I need to enhance my self esteem by whatever methods work for me. I need to love myself as much as I love others. Some of the changes that I made….give myself credit when I do something good. Change how I talk to and about myself. Accept compliments. Allow myself to feel happy for no particular reason. Do something I enjoy. I am changing. I am still a work in progress but the first step to long term change is accepting where I am so I can make plans for where I am going to go.