How low self-esteem begins
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt
As young children, we are like blank slates, learning rapidly about the world around us by observing and direct experience. How others treat us teaches us about our value and this is how low self-esteem begins. Sadly, many children grow up receiving very negative messages from their parents as well as significant others such as extended family members, friends and teachers.
These negative early messages are often false messages and say more about the person who said them than about the innocent child receiving them. Nonetheless, the can end up leaving life long scars that affects individual’s self-esteem for a very long time.
Learn to recognise that any negative messages that you received as a child may not have been accurate. Negative statements such as “Don’t be so stupid” or “You never get anything right” or “Why can’t you be more like…(your sister/your brother etc)…can do a lot of damage but it doesn’t mean that the messages were correct, truthful or accurate.
Sometimes as adults, we need to identify these early messages and rewrite them for ourselves. Thankfully, as w grow older we tend to become more aware of our parent’s failings and their earlier messages to us can lose some of their power. It may be highly likely that you have internalised some of these negative messages and have installed within you as core beliefs. You cannot change the past but you CAN change core beliefs about yourself. Perhaps you AREN’T stupid at all. Perhaps your parent just wasn’t good at managing their own stress and said the wrong things sometimes. Parents make many mistakes too and you don’t have to carry their version of you anymore if you don’t like it. Redefine yourself. Look for your strengths, make a list if necessary. Working on self-esteem is a life long job. We all have setbacks that can fill us with doubt and trigger old core beliefs about ourselves.
When you realise that this is happening it makes it easier to put these thoughts in their place and dismiss them without believing them and thinking they are true.
As an adult, you have power to decide who you want to be. Don’t allow old outdated messages to define you.