Most would agree that a low self-esteem is harmful to the individual, but we may not realize that self-esteem wounds can present themselves in many forms. People rarely come to see me complaining of low self-esteem, but they often come in because of the results of low self-esteem.
Self-esteem wounds can be the driving force behind many psychological difficulties. Here are a few.
There are several types of depression. Some are primarily cause by a chemical imbalance, and can be inherited. Most depression, however, is brought about by negative life experiences, and negative thinking patterns. Self-criticism fuels depression. The individual is bombarded by negative thoughts about himself, and negative thoughts about his future. Treating depression usually requires helping the person alter negative thinking patterns. When the self-esteem improves, so does the depression.
Self-esteem wounds often come in the form of inadequacy feelings. The person doesn’t feel prepared to deal with difficult life tasks, and anticipates failure. Everything begins to feel overwhelming. Anxiety is the natural result.
This is when a person feels anxious in social situations. She assumes that others are judging her, and is afraid of saying the wrong thing or not being able to say anything. She assumes that others are better than she, are more comfortable in social situations, and therefore, are judging her inadequacies. With treatment, she learns to see herself as equal to others, thus lessening the social anxiety.
Similar to social anxiety, here the person avoids interactions with others. He may withdraw because of a fear of judgment, or simply because he no longer enjoys social interaction. He may see himself as less competent than others, or as less likeable or important. Assuming that he will not be liked, he avoids occasions where rejection is possible.
Irritability and Temper Outbursts:
When the person perceives herself as inadequate, she may assume that others are judging her. Her reaction may be anger. When she perceives herself as unlovable or unlikeable, she may perceive rejection even when it isn’t there. Her reaction to the perceived rejection may also be anger.
Poor Relationship Choices:
It may sound strange, but people tend to find themselves in relationships, that deepen their self-esteem wounds. The abused girl often grows up to marry the abusive man. The rejected boy is often attracted to the distant woman. The criticized boy often marries an overly critical wife. These choices are unconscious, but are common results of self-esteem wounds.
This one may surprise some people. We usually assume that someone who displays arrogant behaviors actually thinks too much of themselves. While this may be true at times, most arrogant people are actually compensating or hiding insecurities. They see themselves as less than others and try to hide that by bragging or acting like they are better than others.
People with self-esteem wounds will not pursue opportunities as frequently. They doubt themselves. They expect failure, so they don’t attempt things. They dismiss their dreams because they think they are possible.
This may sound strange, but some people with low self-esteem put too much effort into achievement. They sacrifice everything to succeed. They try to succeed to prove their former critics wrong. Such attempts are like pouring water into a bucket with a hold in the bottom. No matter how much you pour in, it never gets full. No amount of success will heal an inadequacy self-esteem wound.
The list could go on. Self-esteem wounds impact people in many ways. You may have seen yourself or a loved one in this list. If so, take steps to address the wounds. Self-esteem wounds can be healed with time, treatment and persistence.
Comments: Can you think of any other consequences of self-esteem wounds? Please share!