How To Improve Self-Esteem

How Can Therapy or Counseling help with Low Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem. Everyone seems to want more of it. Or to know how to get it in the first place. A common assumption in our modern American culture is having high self-esteem leads to success in life.

Why work on self-esteem?

People who feel great about themselves lead great lives. The rest of us, who struggle with the not-so-subtle speed bumps of daily life and often battle to get up and go (let alone be “great”), could lead better lives if only we could find ourselves a bit of self-esteem. Then … then, look out, because here we come! There is a problem with this line of thinking, however, and it isn’t low self-esteem. The problem is self-esteem doesn’t lead to success. It’s the other way round. The refrain of developmental psychologists is, “competence breeds confidence.”

If you want to foster self-esteem in others, teach them things, help build their skills, and turn their attention to behaviors they can control, like diligence. The best way to foster self-esteem in ourselves is to do the same. All of this makes increasing our self-esteem sound simple, easy even. It is not.

But why is it so hard to feel better about myself?

Building skills – whether learning a new language or learning to relate to ourselves more kindly – takes a great deal of time and effort. It also takes a good bit of getting it wrong before we begin getting it right. Getting it wrong or falling down again and again, even from a small height, can deliver new blows to our already deflated self-esteem, thus making it harder yet to persevere.

Also, we all have myriad blind spots, stuck points, and hang-ups blocking our way. Getting started on tasks, assignments, or projects can seem impossible at times. Or, the prospect of making a dating profile seems beyond our reach.

Why? Often we carry around with us archaic narratives about who we are that fuse with our sense of self. If I believe I am unlovable, why would I make a dating profile and face assured rejection, right?

How can I improve self-esteem?

Self-esteem building then is really as much about uncovering what gets in our way as it is learning how to do difficult things. As we un-encumber ourselves from self-beliefs that hold us back, we can more effectively move toward what matters to us. This may be financial security, romantic partnership, interpersonal fulfillment, or something else.

Therapy is also a good place to work on relational skills, learn how to be more caring towards oneself, and define what’s really worth going after in life. But in therapy or out, we are all of us best served when we understand self-esteem as a by-product of overcoming challenges, moving toward goals, and discovering who we really are.

Brighter Life Therapy, PLLC in Cambridge, MA offers comprehensive psychotherapy services to improve self esteem. Give us a call at (978) 208-4221 to find out how we can help you!

Dr. Rich Williams Dr. Williams is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow at Brighter Life Therapy, PLLC. He enjoys working with individuals and couples from all walks of life.

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