Self-Image and Self-Esteem

I realize I didn’t continue my story from last time. But I guess I am just not quite ready to. I am trying to be okay with whatever comes out on here. Not judging what I write, how it comes off, how I organize entries, what people think, etc. Just be true to myself; if I end up encouraging someone in the process, that would be great!

So a little bit about my current state: I have low self-esteem. Big surprise. Ever since I grew out of adolescence, I was ashamed of this. I would continue to deny this fact, referring to it in my mind as “something only teens or super immature people struggle with.” Now, by the grace of God, I have accepted that, most likely through no fault of my own, I struggle with low self-image and self-esteem but that that fact does not define me.

Last week my therapist gave me this hand out on Self-Image and Self-Esteem written by Earnie Larsen. Self-image is based on the messages we received during our earliest years- whether direct or indirect-and these messages become how we see ourselves. Self-esteem is a direct reflection or your self-image, dictating 1) our expectations, 2) our options and 3) our limitations. I sincerely related to this: “If people have low self-esteem the value they have of themselves is very low. They see themselves as losers. They don’t expect to do well so what options do they have? Only negative options. The expectations are that it will never work; I’ll never be happy; no one will ever love me, and so on. ‘The limitations we place on our lives make our expectations come true.’ ”

The weird thing is, because of my identity as a “depressed” and “anxious” person for over half my life, these self-limiting thoughts have become such a deep part of myself. It’s like I am addicted to them; while in reality, I do have positive thoughts about my value, it just seems “wrong” to allow myself to think them.

My therapist’s assignment for me was to choose an area of my life in which I was very successful and answer some reflection questions about it. It was so hard to think of an area I was “very successful” in. I was bombarded by thoughts of areas I was once confident in, such as teaching, speaking Spanish, writing or my faith; and the sad reality that, in recent years, I have experienced utter failure (from my perspective) in these areas.

Fortunately I was able to dismiss these thoughts pretty easily; then I thought of my new job as a PCA (personal care attendant). While I am easily ashamed that I currently work only about 10 hours a week (I had to quit my “professional” full time job as a teacher last June), I still realized I am proud and confident in the work that I do as a caregiver. Doing the following reflection was very powerful for me and I hope it also brings you joy and comfort in whatever you are going through at the moment.

Here is my reflection:

  1. Choose an area of your life in which you are very successful: Working as a PCA (personal care attendant) for a 10-year-old girl and her family a. Self-image: how do you define yourself in this area? Very competent. Because of my sensitive nature, I bond well with people in a one-on-one relationship and learn how they tick, what would help them and overall, I have intense love for them (usually, of course, there are always certain people we “click” better with and who are easier to love). I am also someone who is dependable. I do what needs to be done efficiently; I show up to work every day; her parents see how well I work with and care for her so they trust me. I am myself with her and I try to always put her needs before my own. I am honest and friendly. I am a down-to-earth person with her family and I seemed to have “clicked” with them. I especially feel like I have become friends with her mom who is around my age. I have been able to support and encourage her as a mom and a Christian woman (and a teacher); and I feel honored that she has trusted me by opening up and sharing with me more and more! 

    b. As you define yoursef-how do you behave in that area? With integrity. Honestly, I have been tempted by all the alcohol at their house. Because of who I am and the relationship of trust I have built with this family, I rarely feel tempted anymore. In fact, I am confident that I could never betray them in this way. Other times, when I have put my needs before my client’s or gotten frustrated with her, I feel badly and always try to apologize to her and/or God. I have grace for myself, and am able to move on the next time. I also behave confidently. Because of the relationship I have created these last 5 months, I now have a say in her treatment, activities, etc. I have been voicing my thoughts more often and taking risks. The more I take a risk, positive things happen, which builds my confidence even more so I continue doing hard things.c. The consequences of this behavior: How I behave at my job has given me hope and confidence in other areas of life; so ultimately it has been a healing journey. My behavior has reminded me where my true gifts lie-in influencing individuals, just being present with them, using my sensitive nature to make a difference. The more I am my “true self” in other areas, the lower my chance are of giving in to temptations or going against this true nature. Also, this job has given me a renewed vision of my purpose, whether occupationally or in general: my God-given purpose; so I have more positive thoughts about my future!

    d. What is the result? The results define and deepen your self-image. The result is that there is no denying that I have made a difference and that my presence in others’ lives does not go unnoticed. While I haven’t affected large amounts of people, the people I have influenced are very dear to me and when I think about hurting or betraying them, it is devastating; similar to when I think of if one of them gets hurt or ill or worse. This kind of love is undeniable, and is the reason I am alive today. Thanks be to God, this love is my main purpose for living, something I could barely acknowledge when I was so ill last year. The reason I do what I do and why I am dependable and act out of integrity is because of the love I have received from Christ and the dear ones he has graced me with in this life.

    The messages of self-worth are:
    *I am full of love and have a lot of love to give.
    *I am worthy of love.
    *I am loyal, trustworthy and a person of integrity.
    *I can reach people on an intimate level, because of my deep sensitivity.
    *I have a deep awareness of self, I am honest and vulnerable and am more capable than many of helping others develop these traits.
    *This family has been graced and blessed with my presence as their PCA. (As I have been graced and blessed by them.) I can see myself being committed to them for many years to come.
    *Through my relationship with this precious child, I have also had a glimpse of what I can and will offer as a mother one day; I am reminded of the deep calling and privilege I feel of adopting this title in the near future!

One thought on “Self-Image and Self-Esteem

  1. Brittany what a beautiful post of your heart, your love for other, Gods spirit working thru you!! I think we all are and can be vulnerable and so hard to admit it. You are so honest and pure when you write!!! It is beautiful to read!!! I love you my friend and thank you for sharing your heart!!!! Big hugs!!!

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