Third Appointment – Low Self Esteem

My counsellor wanted to help me see the pattern of where my negative feelings toward myself have stemmed from. To do this, I was given a bit of paper with a series of headings. Under each I was to fill in short and concise points to help describe situations and feelings that I experience. This task was a lot harder to do than you would think.

Early Experiences:
Within this section I just wrote down situations that have affected me:

  • My Mum has always put me down. Never a nice word to say to, or about me.
  • My Dad is very much the same, he likes to put me down. Still does.
  • My parents never encouraged me into anything, ever.
  • The fact I was bullied a lot growing up
  • Being in an abusive (physically and mentally) relationship.
  • Being cheated on profusely
  • Being lied to and about

Bottom Line/ Core Beliefs:
What do these early experiences make me think about myself?

  • I never feel that anything I do is good enough.
  • I feel worthless
  • Fat
  • Ugly
  • Stupid
  • A joke
  • Bad Mum/Sister/Daughter/Wife
  • Unloved/liked……Just to name but a few.

Rules for Living:
For this I put things like –

  • Convince myself that everyone who’s nice to me is lying, because I don’t trust anyone.
  • Try to over achieve, and push myself to my limits to prove I’m worthy
  • Don’t let people in, for fear of being rejected or let down
  • Push people away, so they can’t hurt me/let me down

Trigger Situations:
Things that make me feel sad/anxious?

  • When I’m criticised/chastised/mocked
  • Rejection
  • High stress situations
  • Not meeting my own personal goals/targets/expectations in life and at work
  • Losing/feeling out of control
  • Feeling isolated and alone, through pushing people away

These headings above, then lead onto the vicious cycle: –

Activation of the Bottom Line:
Because of the answers above, what do I think about myself?

  • I’m a joke, that no-one likes.
  • Given how I look, I’m lucky to be married
  • I’m out of my depth, in general, and soon everyone will see how useless I am.
  • I’m terrible at my job, and all my colleagues don’t think I should be there.
  • I will never measure up

Predictions:
What does this mean for the future?

  • My honest answer here was; I don’t see one any more. No longer can I look ahead and see a positive or see something I really want.

Unhelpful behaviour:

  • Pushing people away and keeping my circle small, to avoid being hurt/let-down
  • Overthinking all the ways that something may or may not go wrong, in the hopes of being prepared.
  • Avoiding certain social situations for the belief that I’m not actually wanted, or that I’ll be mocked for how I look.
  • Convincing myself that people being nice are disingenuous
  • Looking for constant reassurance from others
  • Never accepting compliments, for fear they’re fake

Confirmation of the Bottom Line…
Because of my unhelpful behaviour, I am solidifying the negative thoughts of myself

Self-critical thoughts/Hopelessness
Due to these negative thoughts, and always putting myself down, this leads me to….

Depression
Whilst I’m feeling depressed, I crawl inside my pity party bubble, where I play the world’s smallest violin and think about all the ways I’m useless, fat, ugly, unworthy, a terrible human being, unwanted, unloved etc. Doing this just leads me right back to Activation of the Bottom Line, and so the cycle continues.

This is not all the answers I gave, just some of the more prominent ones. There were answers I had put that are a lot more personal, and ones I wouldn’t have considered had my counsellor not pointed them out. Filling these in and discussing them, let me see just how negative towards myself I am. I already knew I was a Debbie Downer, and that I loathed myself, but writing it out and talking about it with someone has just made me realise how much.

I don’t have an appointment next week, so in a fortnight we’re going to discuss ways for me to try and break the cycle. I’m not sure exactly how yet, and I never thought to ask. If I’m entirely honest, my mind was racing when I left today. I was just thinking about all the times I really should have been proud of myself, or at the very least happy for myself, like my exam, and I just couldn’t. I still can’t. I fail to see how I can break the habit of a lifetime, but this is why she’s a counsellor and I’m the patient.

Positives for this week, is that I’m starting to see the clear pattern of my negative behaviour and see where it stems from. Once I’ve had my next appointment, and I have been given some next steps, I’ll be sure and post again. If you’re like me, and have GAD & Depression that leads to low self esteem, I do hope that this has been of some help to you.

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