Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Black-and-White Of Low Self-Esteem

People who see their relationships as either all good or all bad tend to have low self-esteem, according to a series of seven studies by Yale researchers published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .

The findings suggest that those who had low self esteem found it hard to think of their partners as a mix of positive and negative characteristics at a given point in time. Those with higher self-esteem were able to hold onto both the good and bad aspects of their partner and see them in the gray, instead of in black-and-white.

Researcher Dr. Margaret Clark says, " In good times, those low in self-esteem tend to idealize partners, rendering those partners safe for approach and likely to reflect positively upon them. At the first sign of a partner not being perfect, however, they switch to focusing on all possible negatives about the partner so as to justify withdrawing from that partner and not risking vulnerability."

Low self-esteem can have other devastating consequences.

* It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for depression.

* It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.

* It can seriously impair academic and job performance.

* It can lead to underachievement and increased vulnerability to many self destructive behaviors.

* Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem.


The Good News

The good news is that though self-esteem is largely developed during childhood, it can be increased and strengthened. According to the University of Texas at Austin Counseling Center, three steps can help you get there.

Step 1: Rebut the Inner Critic: Challenge the negative messages of your critical inner voice. This means that you have to counter your negative self-thinking with positive mantras.

Step 2: Practice Self-Nurturing: Healthy self-esteem begins when you treat yourself as a worthwhile person. Start to challenge past negative experiences or messages by nurturing and caring for yourself in ways that show that you are valuable, competent, deserving and lovable.

Step 3: Get Help from Others: This can be the hardest step. People with low self-esteem often don't ask for help because they feel they don't deserve it. But since low self-esteem is often caused by how other people treated you in the past, you may need the help of other people in the present to challenge the critical messages that come from negative past experiences. Find good role models, healthy loving people with whom you can share your time, thoughts and experiences.

Viewing yourself, your partner or the world in black-and-white short-changes everything. Life should be filled with a palette of colors.



References

Clark, M. & Graham, S. (2006) Self-esteem and organization of valenced information about others: The jekyll and hyde-ing of relationship partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 90(4): 652-665.

66 comments:

Fallen Angels said...

That bit about self-nurturing gets me every time! What IS that? That's rhetorical by the way... been working on figuring that out for 4 years. :P

staffpsy said...

my fav theory of self-esteem actually states that your self-esteem level is based on the amount of perceived social acceptance and rejection in th environment. in that case, people should try and have a more accurate view of how well they are liked as a way to change their self-esteem level.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that sometimes too much emphasis is placed on self-esteem, while not enough is placed on an accurate self-evaluation, one with a basis in reality?

Dreaming again said...

anonymous, in my humble opinion ... good self esteem is based in reality and good self evaluation.

It isn't a look at me, I'm perfect, I'm special, I'm a golden child who can do no wrong ...

but rather ... I'm me ...I'm here with all my faults, and my strengths ... and my strengths are able to help me to overcome my faults. I am a person who can stand up to life.

Good self esteem knows when to step down and when to step up ... and looks at the glass as half full ... unless ... the goal is to be drinking more water and then the glass is half empty because you're doing what you're supposed to be doing and you've accomplished something ;)

Good self esteem doesn't put others down to build self up ... nor does it need to pretend to be something it's not ... it very much IS reality based.

Otherwise ...you've gone from poor self esteem to narcissism.

Tai said...

That's VERY useful stuff, thanks.

(AND congrats on the nomination! Way to go!)

Fallen Angels said...

I agree with Dreaming...without some degree of self-esteem, an accurate self-evaluation can't be done.

ellesu said...

Interesting post (as usual). I have made the mistake of thinking people were arrogant when they actually have low self-esteem. It always surprises me when I find out I've been so wrong.

Congrats on the nomination by association. :)

MeMe said...

well... I thought black and white thinking was part of a bigger problem... borderline personality disorder. I know, lots of things are all rolled up incased in different disorders or conditions.
Geesh, I sure do wish gaining a better sense of self esteem was this easy. Yeah, just pull yourself up by your bootstraps... I really do wish it was that easy. Personally though, i find it hard to think positively when soooo much has been negative from childhood and throughout adulthood to even like TODAY... Anyway... true to form... what i say think or feel means NOTHING.
MeMe

jumpinginpuddles said...

and believing in yourself long enough to gain self esteem is also another one.

puhpaul said...

Been there, done that and am still working on it. Coming out has certainly been a huge boost to my battle with self-esteem and depression. I guess the ability to live authentically is one of the biggest steps towards positive self-esteem.

thanks, paul

Shirazi said...

Nice one that was much needed. Thanks.

Raine said...

self nurtuting ? when I started nurturing myself (loving myself) I started asking myself- Is this situation good enough for my daughter? Would I accept this for my daughter? I started deciding that if I didnt think something wasnt good enough for my daughter (whom I loved very much), then it wasnt good enough for me either> If it was something I didnt want my daughter doing then I shouldnt be doing it. If it was the kinda guy I didnt want my daughter going with, then he wasnt good enough for me etc etc etc. That was how I started. I didnt know how to love myself but I did know how to love her.

Sarebear said...

These are SO part of me. I'm afraid that I'll get labeled a certain, very negatively viewed, thing, by admitting that, but what the hey.

I am gaining a TINY bit on #1.

#2 . . . . I'm gaining a tiny bit on some parts of it, if you take out the word "competent". Maybe valuable too.

#3 - SUCKS when you have practically no social network, practically no support system. IT SUCKS. So #3 doesn't exist. SO THERE. (To whomever wrote the study, not to YOU Deb.)

On a happier note, while I don't PLAN to dream of fellow bloggers, yesterday in one of those brief interim scenes between longer dreams, I dreamed YOU were a kind and joyful person. In Pink satin PJ's (fully covered, nothin wierd goin on.)

I thought that reflects how you seem to me on here, although I also tend to idealize people . . . but I was pleased to see my subconscious agrees with me.

Sarebear said...

Jumpinginpuddles - oh wow, that is a VERY good way to put what I go through, too.

healthpsych said...

A very interesting post, Deborah. I always look forward to reading your blog.

The problem I find with low self-esteem is that sufferers usually tend to withdraw socially and so, consequently, don't get the feedback from others that could build their self-esteem.

MeMe said...

HEALTHPSYCH: Geesh... rely on others to get your self-esteem... that is how I got very low self worth in the first place... by relying on people who are suppose to care and love me...
How can I ever trust people with my self esteem??? Like... never.
MeMe

jumpinginpuddles said...

hi meme,
i read the comment and thought about it for a bit. And then thought maybe the people youve made to build your self esteem cant fulfill that, only you can and building self esteem isnt about them lowering it but you building it with positive healthy people enough to say no i dont like what you do it isnt good enough for me.
Positive people can give self esteem its our accepting of that, that we struggle with. Healthpsyche wasnt saying you get all of your self esteem from people but a lot of it we do. Withdrawing isnt a good way of recieving or understanding it.
Im sorry people have hurt you so much you are streuggling with self esteem but if im allowed to say what you have written means you have self esteem because it meant you got mad and soemone without self esteem wouldnt get mad at someone elses comments. Well done :D

Deb S. said...

What an excellent, timely post! I know a number of people who will benefit from your experience and research, and I will share it with them. Even I could use a little boost today. :-)

Once again, you have done a great public service!

Naomi said...

Oh, my gosh. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post. This is GREAT info and much needed. Thank you!

Heidi said...

Well thankgod there is "good news".

4/5 is not good..Having a negative inner critic doesn't help much either. With so many disappointments it's hard to break through..I know it could just take one positive situation that may turn things around..

Family/friends all give positive feedback etc..but then then my wall goes up and blocks everything they say.. Why do u think that happens?

Great Post and thankyou.

mysti said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been working on having a good self esteem for some time now. Lots and lots of therapy was needed to help change what was taught early on. This has helped me to remember that I need to constantly be retraining my thoughts. I am always having to throw out my first initial negative reactions and replace it with postive.

Bougie said...

I love the self-nurturing, something I'm doing for myself. I've finally let go of my past and the things I can not change but doing something for the things I can change and increasing flow of positive energy around me. I realized my low self esteem at one time resulted by allowing others to drain me of who I am.

beethoven writes said...

thank you for your comment. I've been reading your blog too and will continue to do so.

best wishes

Tom

Alison said...

This is a nice slant on a well worn topic. It's good to read that, since I firmly believe that the whole issue of self-esteem, though oft talked about, never ever goes away. In fact, it's the basis for a lot of other mental health conditions.

Traci said...

Wow. I read this twice and then all the comments. Self esteem is a loaded issue for sure.

Staffpsy: In those of us who battle low self esteem, the ability to "have a more accurate view of how well they are liked" is impossible without lots of training. It's interesting to me that you use the word "should" as well. Nothing like a bit of guilt to help the ol' self esteem.

Deb: You, as usual have posted information that is useful and interesting. It has quite obviously touched a nerve...and not just for me! Self esteem is so hard when all you've heard and experienced your whole life is BAD. I've noticed that since my mom died a few months ago, I seem to feel better about myself. Odd that. As always...thanks.

Godwhacker said...

Hi Deb,
this is another great topic. I like the writings of Nathaniel Branden, most notably The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Dr. Branden has been working in the field of psychology with a focus on self-esteem for many decades. His writings have helped me develop self-esteem that is created by defining healthy values and then aligning my actions with my values.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Fallen,
Taking a bath, drinking a great cup of tea, getting a manicure, listening to your favorite music, self nurturing can take on many forms. I hope you become an expert in it!

Dear Staffpsy,
Tis true that self esteem often includes a misperception of one's self, especially if a person grew up in a harsh environment or a permissible one. Accurate self-perception is a key to healthy self esteem. Great point you make.

Dear Anonymous,
Well, self esteem and self evaluation often go hand in hand. I think healthy self esteem can be attained, and when one has it, there is often a realistic sense of self-evaluation and perception that goes along with it.

Dear Dreaming,
Beautifully said.

Dear Tai,
Hey, thanks, and this is an important topic. I should post more often about it.

Dear Fallen,
I agree too.

Dear Ellesu,
Narcissism and arrogance are telltale signs that a person has a low self esteem. It's hard to realize it when you are on the receiving end of it, but I like to teach people to look for the underlying motives.

Dear Meme,
Borderline personality does encompass an all or nothing kind of thinking, but the problem with psychology is that so many parts of issues play into others....just like you said. I grew up with a very low self regard and low self esteem. That is not how I feel now. Therapy helped a great deal. AND I don't allow anyone who minimzes me in my life. I have a zero tolerance for that. My hubby knows that if someone is a negative that we won't be socializing with him or her. I hope you can surround yourself with good things, good people and learn to see, feel and celebrate the value of yourself .


Dear JIP,
Excellent point.

Dear Puhpaul,
You said it. Being authentic with yourself is the greatest way to live life. I hope you continue to feel strong, vibrant and wonderful about yourself.

Dear Shirazi,
I agree :)

Dear Raine,
That is such a great way to approach life!!!!!!!!I often tell people I work with to do things in a similar way.

Dear Sarebear,
It takes time to undo all the critical and harsh voices one grew up with, but you are doing it. As for #3, one need not have a friend or family member withing reach. The internet is a wonderful way to find meaningful friendships. And I loved your dream. How wonderfully symbolic it is.

Dear Healthpsych,
You are right about the withdrawal and I'd add that there is often a fallout of drive and hopefulness. The one thing the internet offers is a way feel connected. I hope that many people will find through blogging a way to express their feelings and thoughts and a way to make meaningful connections.

Dear Meme,
Therapy may help you to learn to trust. I know its scary thing to throw yourself in the water again to see if others will let you drown or help you out. I hope you will risk and find that there are good people out there, who will celebrate you. In fact, read JIP's comment.

Dear JIP,
You are awesome!

Dear DCS,
I gotta get over to your blog. I've been so busy and havent visited my blogpals in a while.

Dear Naomi,
I'm so glad you found the post meaningful.

Dear Heidi,
Could be so many reasons why that continues to happen. IT almost sounds like it is a reflexive response on your part. Your negative inner voice may be unduly harsh and does not allow for change or new perceptions to occur. Taming and softening that inner voice may be key to helping with all of this.

Dear Mysti,
That's right. Tossing aside the negative thought and replacing it with a postive realistic one takes practice. But you are doing it!!!!

Dear Dakoda,
What great gains you are making! We cannot change our past, that's true. But we can learn from it and make our present and future different.

Dear theinjuredcyclist,
:)

Dear Alison,
Well said. The arc of how we see ourselves is with us throughout life.

~Deb

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Godwhacker,
Wow, those references are great! Thanks so much.

~Deb

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Traci,
Oh, you and godwhacker slipped in as I posted.

I suffered with poor self-esteem for a long time as a child and as a young teen. Therapy was monumental in helping reverse the effects of my childhood. And you are right, it does take a lot of training, but it is worth it.

And I don't find it odd that your feelings have shifted since your mom passed. Makes perfect sense to me.

~Deb

Ian Lidster said...

This is really good, Deb. It goes so far to define a relationship and brief marriage to the woman I thought of as the 'love of my life', and the denouement of that relationship, which still hurts, if I let it. You offer some thoughts that explain a bit about what happened. I knew she suffered from self-esteem problems, yet she was so open and loving with me at the beginning and could see nothing but the positive. As time went by it became more and more negative, and eventually everything about me was a negative to her. It was horribly hurtful to me, for I could do nothing right. I have flaws, as have we all, but to her I was all flaws. The extreme shift in her behavior was very much like a borderline personality syndrome. Anyway, I thank you for this, it's thought provoking. By the way, that breakup, though 10 years ago, can still confuse me.

Ian

MeMe said...

Oops, so sorry!!! I did not mean to sound negative or angry. It is just that raising self-esteem up by using others/environment deals with a trust that I have lost.
Getting back to that study, I think I would make a text example for their findings.
However, I am very much able to nurture & love others, EXCEPT... myself, I hate myself, can't look in a mirror and if I do... I still don't see myself. hehehehehe
Therapy... well, that's mission impossible. Anyway, I have tried so hard to make sure my girls have plenty of self-esteem/worth. In fact... they think they are Hot to Trot....the only time I think I'm Hot to Trot is when I am on a Treadmill... hehehehehehe
MeMe

Id it is said...

Self esteem does indeed affect every action of an individual and it may be worth everyones while to figure out if she /he suffers from low self esteem. Good post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dreaming Again and Dr. Deb.

How does one distinguish between high self-esteem and pure hubris? Isn't it inevitably a subjective discrimination?

Personally, given the choice between someone with low self-esteem and someone with a ridiculously inflated sense of self-importance, I would readily choose to associate with the former. Perhaps it's the birds of a feather thing.

healthpsych said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
healthpsych said...

Just wanted to clarify something I wrote earlier. I probably expressed myself rather clumsily.

I did not mean to suggest that self-esteem should purely come from others and I'm sorry if it caused upset. Deborah covered the many sources of self-esteem.

It's a given that often the experiences we receive at the hands of others can be extremely detrimental to our self-esteem.

The point I was trying to make was that when we suffer low self-esteem, we tend to withdraw and then never get exposure to feedback from others that might counteract the damaging feedback we get from some people.

JIP got what I was saying and thank you JIP for explaining on my behalf. I must have got things "lost in translation" a little!

Apologies :)

PalmTreeChick said...

I don't think of myself of having a very low self-esteem, but I have a very poor body image. I guess in some aspects, I don't feel worthy of certain things, but I'm very outgoing an bubbly, which to me don't go with having a low self-esteem, but you're the professional. Is it normal to be friendly, outgoing, very social and "entertaining" and have a low self-esteem??

Like I said, I don't think I have a self-esteem issue, moreso a distorted body image (so others tell me).

I guess I really don't know what I'm trying to get at here. Maybe just responding to your post is getting me to realize some things about myself.

Ok, I don't know what I'm talking about so I'll shut up now.
:)

Jessica said...

I found your site by your post on cutters...I wanted to ask you a question: I have recently started inflicting minor self-harm and I know I need to get help before this becomes an addiction. I want to go to a psychologist. I am on my mother's insurance but I am 20 years old and I live with my dad, not her. If I were to tell a psychologist what I am doing, will she be required to tell someone even though I am not a minor and am telling her with the intent of stopping?

Jodi said...

Hi Dr Serani...somehow I managed to stumble across your blog.....I live in Australia!!! I have always suffered from low-self esteem but no body would have guessed....until 2 years ago I suffered severe depression and was diganosised with an anxiety disorder. Has been along way to recovering and I still am.....are you article you post allowed to be copied??? There are some very useful information I would love to copy but don't know whether I am allowed to!!!

Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb :)

I think I fit this profile. Do you know if this study and information would apply at all to Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers? It seems to me it hits a lot of the same notes?

Thanks for posting this!

Angel Chasse (again)

Dreaming again said...

Personally, given the choice between someone with low self-esteem and someone with a ridiculously inflated sense of self-importance, I would readily choose to associate with the former. Perhaps it's the birds of a feather thing.


Anonymous ... but that's the thing, if someone has a rediculously inflated sense of self importance ...they do NOT have a good self esteem. They are not basing their self esteem in reality ...and haven't done an honest inventory and are either over compensating for fears and insecurities or they are narcisistic ...however that's spelled ... or both.

Picture a pendulumn swinging ... High on one end is the people who just can't look you in the eye, they don't think anything of themselves and they are self destructive as a results ... the other end of the pendulumn are those who are self important, arrogant and think the world revolves around them ... neither one is healthy.

At the bottom, balanced, steady and strong ... in the middle ...is good self esteem.

Swinging to either side ..it can swing out of control ..but sitting still at the bottom, it remains steady and balanced in place.

Make more sense?

Nancy said...

What a great post, and grat comments. tons of info, I will have to re-read to get it all.

Wanda's Wings said...

I'm so confussed about self esteem. You know others like you, you work hard and do a good job a what you do, but thinking your are OK. How do you do that?
I always see what is wrong with me. Not quite good enough. I guess I'm depressed today so maybe this is a good day to talk about self esteem, self-nurturing, etc.
I try to make new tapes about myself, but can not seem to get rid of the old ones.
how do you learn to love yourself ?? I'm clueless.

The Little Student said...

Very interesting post, as well as comments. Healthpsych I believe you are right on the money with your comment on the behavior loop between self-esteem and isolation. Great stuff!

CrackerLilo said...

I've seen that work out in my own life. When I can see myself more realistically, as a mix of strengths and weaknesses, I can do the same for others, including L'Ailee. Years ago when I was in so much trouble over my depression, she told me that I made her feel like "an ant under a magnifying glass"--I was becoming much too much for her. I'm glad I don't have that magnifying glass anymore--it's better for us both and everyone else around me, too.

Anonymous said...

So we have a pendulum. Pure hubris and negative self-concept are equally far from reality, the resting state of the pendulum. Why, then, is the latter considered so pathological, while the former could get one elected to the presidency or promoted to CEO? "Distress and disability," sure, but what that says is that causing oneself distress and disability (being self-disparaging) is worse than causing others distress and disability (being a pompous ass). It becomes almost a cultural issue.

Dreaming again said...

Anonymous, people at BOTH ends of the pendulum are seen as both pathetic and pathological ...and needing our pity and needing our rejection. It just depends on how they play out.

Wanda's Wings (someone I know in my personal life) is at the far side of this pendulumn in low self esteem ...yet, everyone loves her dearly ...she isn't rejected, nor seen as pathological ... she is loved and accepted ... just like the CEO of the company that you're talking about.

I know a man who is on the arrogant side of the pendulumn who has more pride than sense ..yet hasn't managed to hold a job for more than 6 months of his life ..at 43, his claim to fame is that he's fathered 4 kids and all 4 mom's had to take him to court to prove he was the father because he wouldn't own up to it (and now, he brags about it) and that he's had job experience ... only, he doesn't tell you he's been fired from more jobs than you can count ..he tells you about the time he drove a truck ...he built houses, he was a locksmith, he worked for a butcher, he worked on a road crew, he worked for ...you get the gist.

Some just manage to channel it and make it into success ...and some don't. Some with totally poor self esteem are not successful, bottom of the social totem pole people ... and others, are still successful and you'd not know they felt that way unless you talked with them.

Sorry Dr. Deb, I've hijacked your blog!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I wasn't really talking about any correlation between self-esteem and our culture's view of "success" (although there probably is a correlation). I was thinking more about the stigma and the general societal attitude towards low self-esteem.

People with low self-esteem are thought of as needing therapy or other help, and rightly so, for as Dr. Deb mentions in her post, "...since low self-esteem is often caused by how other people treated you in the past, you may need the help of other people in the present to challenge the critical messages that come from negative past experiences." Being told that you deserve what happens to you or being told that you have to obey certain rules and do certain things against your will can lead to many many problems, low self-esteem being one of them. I know this for certain.

Conversely, being told that you are the most wonderful person in the world and being given a grandiose and superhuman opinion of yourself can lead to many problems as well. Being downright annoying is just one of these problems. However, this is not considered nearly as severe or stigmatized, and that was what made me wonder whether I was correct in perceiving a disparity in the treatment of these two groups of people, as well as what could be the root of such a disparity.

It is a cultural norm that we consider ourselves more important that others. So self-defeating behaviors are more "serious" than behaviors that disparage and defeat others. People with low self-esteem need therapy because they have an unrealistic view of themselves and of reality due to past experiences; people with ridiculously high self-esteem do not need therapy even though they have the same problem for the opposite reason.

Self-esteem is unheard of in many collectivist cultures.

Sorry for the long comment. I hope that my comment is not rude, offensive, or triggering, because that was not my intent by any means. I also hope that my comment is coherent; it is too late at night for me to formulate anything more eloquent than what I have written above.

Good night, everyone.

Wendy C. said...

I want to read more about this topic. It reminds me of the behavior of someone in my family - the part about seeing others as "all good" or "all bad" My heart hurts for him..it's impossible to have even the slightest disagreement...things either have to be perfect (even if they need some work) or he grabs his back pack and heads for the door because there is nothing redeeming about me...I know better, and I want to help him...it's really hard sometimes.

danny said...

In my relationship with my partner, I realized that, most often, the problem is low self-esteem, which she experienced from her childhood. I must admit, I have my own share too but as an artist, I handled it in a creative way.

Thanks Dr. Deb for this wonderful input and congratulations to Emmy nomination of "Ripped". I've watched the program when I can and I didn't know you're behind of those scenes.

Phi said...

I don't have the time to read all the comments as I usually do, so I may repeat something that's already been said..
THANK YOU SO MUCH DEB! this post comes at the right time. Really.

:hugs:

Fallen Angels said...

Those on the opposite end of the spectrum from low self esteem are stigmatized as well, it's just maybe not as talked about? Sociopaths are "uncurable" and narcessists barely above that. I think that may be the reason they aren't pushed into therapy. Sociopaths in particular...therapy does not help them, so why bother? I'm not sure I agree with that, but that is the general thinking I have heard. There is far more than self esteem involved with these people, but that is also true of those with low self esteem.

Anonymous said...

Re: Sera's comment

My opinion is that unrealistic self-esteem, whether too low or too high, is indicative of a deeper issue that perhaps ought to be resolved through therapy, but it is not necessarily a problem ipso facto.

Playground in my Mind said...

Oh Dr. Deb. as always, I can swing by and see myself here. Lately though, I can honestly say that I see my old self here. I have been working hard to let go of past hurts. Thank you for the tools.
hugs, Renee

Godwhacker said...

One important thing to add to the discussion regarding self-esteem is ~ that one of the essential steps to achieving happiness is to believe that you deserve it. That is where and why healthy self-esteem is so important.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Ian,
Love can echo on....so sad that it played out the way it did.

Dear Meme,
You didn't sound negative. Actually, there are many people who are wonderful caregivers to everyone but htemselves. I hope you can be a super spoiler to yourself in the future.

Dear Id It Is,
Self-esteem is a biggie in my book. If we felt good about ourselves, maybe there'd be less hate in the world.

Dear Healthpsych,
I don't think you were clumsy at all. You raised an extremely important point!!!!!

Dear Palmtreechick,
There are many aspects to self-esteem. The spiritual self, the emotional self, the physical self, etc. KEep moving forward and hopefully you will love and accept yourself from inside and out.

Dear Jessica,
Call your county or town psychological association and ask for a therapist who specializes in self-harm. A lot goes into deciding whether to inform a third party - so don't fret. When I work with a person, I do a full interview to understand the kind of cutting, the casualness or severity of it, when and where it takes place, etc. Sometimes it is not necessary to inform a third party, while other times, it must be done. Getting help is the first step. It is good that you wish to do this. Good luck.

Dear Jodi,
Feel free to use or copy whatever you find helpful. :)

Dear Angel,
All or nothing thinking is not relegated to one facet. It occurs in many people for many reasons. It is true that BPD has a pronounced presentation of this black and white thinking, but again, it doesn't mean on has BPD if you have rigid thinking. Very good question, btw.

Dear Dreaming,
Perfectly said. Wow.

Dear Nancy,
Hey thanks.

Dear Wanda,
First of all here are some {{hugs}}}}}
Okay, now listen....your inner voice still haunts you with "old" "unrealistic" perceptions of yourself. I know how hard it is to rid or soften this kind of critic-within, but keep trying. Counter each "bad" comment with an undoing good one. It's like a game of tennis, but the good side HAS to win. Each day, think of yourself as a warrior. An emotional warrior. It takes practice and time, and sometimes a little therapy to help with the "blind spots". I wish you success with it.

Dear Caleb,
Healthpsych is one smart blogger. She knows her stuff and I love when she adds her unique insights. BTW, thanks for visiting. I'll head over to visit you soon.

Dear Crackerlilo,
Insight is an amazing thing. Wow, you must have done a lot of work to move through that all.

Dear Anonymous,
I think you are hitting a lateral issue here, but an important one. It is true that there are social "rewards" for some individuals....but I always feel that karma'll get 'em.

Dear Dreaming,
No, this exchange is great. And your comments are so awewsome!!!!

Dear Anonymous,
Your points are very thought-provoking, not rude or insensitive at all. I understand what you are highlighting.

Dear Wendy,
I have a beloved family member like that as well. It IS hard to reach out and smooth the rough edges. I hear you on that. The best we can do is to love them the best we can.

Dear Danny,
When a couple meet and their histories mesh, so many things can get triggered. Contrastly, so many things can gel. You make a great point about how to express one's emotions. Creativity and art are magical ways to do that!

Dear Phi,
Hey there. Hope you are well.

Dear Fallen,
The narcissist and the sociopath are QUITE difficult to treat in therapy and prognosis is often poor. You are right.

Dear Anon,
Yup. True.

Dear Renee,
I love that you used the phrase your "old self". Being able to shed the harshness or insecurity from earlier times is a wonderful achievement. I never minimize how easy it is...I know both personally and professionally the work it takes to do so. Hugs back at'cha.

~Deb

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Godwhacker,
Once again, you add a most important insight.

~Deb

Tiesha said...

Wonderful post Dr. Deb! It really speaks to the need for good mental health screening and care for children and adolescents!

A Flowered Purse said...

You know that negative self talk is one of the most destroying things, I have personally to deal with. It's also hard to stop. I once went to a psychiatrist who had me carry a pen and pad and I had to put a check mark everything a negative thought about myself came up. I swear I got tired of checking, I checked a ton.
its kinda sad when you think about it.
hugs Dr Deb
Love
dianna

Traci said...

Deb: I've been reading all the comments since I was last here and I just wanted to say thank you for putting such timely and important stuff out there for us. What a gift you lay in front of us. Thanks blogger friend. You Rock!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Deat Tiesha,
We need to help each other learn and grow and shed the negative light. I agree.

Dear Dianna,
I know about the cyclical way negative thoughts can haunt a person. It is hard to interrupt it and change it, but it can be done. I wish for everyone to be able to tame that internal beast of a voice.

Dear Traci,
This post resonating with many, for sure. I hope it can lighten the load for some. Hugs back at'cha

~Deb
Dear

Andrew said...

So many of us are in a position of having to nurture not ourselves, but a life partner with low self-esteem. We can pass along the tips in your post to the partner with low self-esteem, but what about guidelines for the nurturing partner? How best can they fulfill their chosen role in trying to bolster another?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Andrew,
That is a great question, and probably should be a whole other post. In short, the best way to support a partner with low self-esteem is to make sure that you, yourself, are not burdened by making sure your partner feels good.

~Deb

Aileen said...

Dr. Deb, I'm having this problem right now. I have a very low self esteem which would need major help. THe thing is I dont dare to ask help from my friends and my relationship between them is getting worse because I am isolating myself from the circle. I have no idea how to aproach them back. I am afraid they wont receive me and if I told them I need help, they might not want to help me. What can I do???

psychgrad said...

What about the research that found that people with low self-esteem tend to be more realistic (can't remember the actual adjective). Saying something to effect of: they don't look at the world through rose-tinted glasses. For example, 95% of people in N.A think that they have above average intelligence.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Aileen,
I think therapy could be really helpful. Call your local psychological association and ask for a referral. Sometimes talking to friends about such things is not the best way to go.

Dear Ser,
Hmmmm.....I think that a person with low self esteem might have a harsher lens with which he/she views life. If you find that study, let me know. I would like to read it.
~Deb

WorriedMom said...

Dr. Deb,
Thank goodness I found this. My eldest daughter, who's now 22, is suffering a case of low self esteem lately due to a recent separation problem. It seems that the problem is getting serious that it looks as if she's becoming more depressed. I'd been searching the internet to find ways and solutions to help me explain to her that it is not the end of the world for her......