"I’m 20. I have got a loved and loving husband. Problem that always follows me – is my overweight. My height is 170 cm, weight – 69 kg – this is not a critical situation, but I try to keep to a diet, go in for sport. My husband loves me very much, tries to do everything for me, and tries to support me during my depressions as for imperfect figure. He gives me no reason to jealous.
But if I see he looked on some interesting girl, I’m upset and quarrel with him. It seems to me that I’m the ugliest one in this world. I create conflict situations unconsciously. I don’t know what to do. I cannot live in constant depression because of my figure, and I feel sorry for my husband – I understand that I can lose him due to my shouting and critics. Please, advice me what to do."
"It occurred to me that I have never really loved anybody (men), and I thought: I may miss this feeling at all. I have got a boyfriend, we have been together for 2 years, I broke with him 3 times for this period, tried to be with other man, then came back. Now we’re together, I say him I love him, but I know it’s not truth. I started thinking: may be I cannot love at all? Probably, no, as love begins from ourselves, and I don’t love myself, my body.
I’m always angry with myself, if I want something very much, I try to hide this feeling deep inside, as I think I will not get it. I attended ball dances for a while, went to classes gladly, adored my partner, but quit dancing. I’m living with a feeling of despair, feel I’m not necessary for anybody, know that dances will be only my dream, I gained weight (64 kg while 174 cm). I don’t want anything and even living…"
Everyone has an image or portrait of himself in his mind unconsciously. An idea of himself as of a personality. And in most cases this opinion is formed unconsciously, basing on past experience, attitude of other people to us.
We will always act like that personality, which we identify us with. A man, who thinks he is a loser, will always find a way and reason to ruin business, despite of will power efforts. Image of our Ego changes to better or worse in the process of accumulation of practical experience. But our self-esteem does not depend on things that took place in this experience; it depends on our own estimation of events, which occur to us. Inferiority complex appears more often from our conclusions, than of facts and events. For example, I sing badly. This is fact, but it does not mean I’m an inferior person in general. A person with broken acceptation of reality may make absolutely another conclusion: “I sing badly, I do everything wrong, I cannot do anything, I’m a loser.”
Everything depends on norms we measure ourselves with. Feeling of inferiority appears, when we estimate ourselves using "maximum" standards of other people. When we act this way, we are on the second place surely. And as we suppose we should correspond to standards, we begin feeling we’re people of second sort. This wrong idea sounds like this: "I should be like someone else" or “I should be like everybody". That’s why we are trying to look like top-models from magazines’ covers, invent standards, which we have to correspond to. But in fact: does this common standard exist? No. Beauty standards change often, like fashion trends.
Convictions form our behavior and emotions. And we value these or those events basing on our convictions. People with low self-esteem have wrong opinion of other people’s opinion of them. They concentrate on negative aspects, ignoring good qualities. Wrong self-esteem leads to a feeling of inconsistency or incompetence. Low self-esteem, and further, depression, are results of constant break of estimation of events.
Here are main types of psychological mistakes, which appear, when a person has low self-esteem:
Maximization One sees everything in black or white colors. A person, thinking in categories "everything or nothing", sees himself as a loser while slightest discrepancy of things to his criteria. This way is destructive, as only 2 variants of estimation can be seldom met. Nobody can be either absolutely unique or complete fool, either attractive, or ugly. There’s nothing that corresponds to extreme concepts.
If you try to live according to absolute categories, lots of reasons for resentment with yourself will appear. Majority of psychological disorders together with low self-esteem are caused by maximization. If a person estimates his life from a position "everything or nothing", then he’s assured that his actions can be either great or worthless. Straight results of such world view – are laziness and passivity.
General conclusion based on single facts The only negative event is accepted like an endless "black period". For example, a pupil with excellent marks failed to pass exam to enter the University. Further he builds his reflections this way: "I failed to enter now, I will not enter ever, and I’m a loser".
Psychological filtering of events A person chooses only negative details of situation. For example, while passing exam you make one mistake. You are thinking of it all the time and make a conclusion you will receive bad mark. In fact, this is the only mistake, which is absolutely unnoticeable on the background of a wonderful answer.
Disqualification of positive
A person does not accept positive facts, insisting on their impossibility, keeps negative impressions, in spite of their discrepancy to real events. For example, you may accept compliments as mockery. I.e. you may always find something that allows you affirming that you’re worse than others. You choose only negative details of any event. So you always confirm negative impression of you:
"Your dress is beautiful"
"I guessed it is provoking".
Negative interpretation of reality
It happens because of ignorance of real state of events or belief that bad presentiments always come true.
A man decides that someone thinks bad of him and does not strive to understand real situation. Feeling that people look down on you prevents you from normal communication. For example, a girl decides that on a party everybody is thinking of her overweight and unattractive appearance and avoids meeting everybody. An interlocutor, facing such cold attitude, thinks that he’s not interesting for her and is in a hurry to make off. Or: a man feels that something bad will happen and is assured that this will surely happen. I.e. he concentrates on negative result. For example, somebody forgot to tell your boyfriend about your call. You decide he does not want to talk to you and does not even guess that somebody just forgot to tell him about your call. You make a conclusion that he will consider you annoying, if you call him again.
Overestimate and understatement
Overestimate of meaning of good events and understatement of bad ones. Effect of a "spyglass". Usually overestimate concerns your own mistakes. You always decide: "my reputation is broken". And when you think of your successes, you look at them from another side: "nothing special". Both understatement of achievements and overestimate of failures guarantee bad state of health. Especially, if you compare yourself with others. "These top-models from magazines are so slender, and I…", "Marsha is really successful, and I can do only small things".
Conclusions based on emotions
Belief that negative emotions reflect real situation: "I feel this, so it is real". In fact, feelings reflect thoughts, if latest are broken, then emotional reaction does not correspond facts. For example: I feel guilty, this means I did something wrong. One of results of such reaction – is delay.
For example, you feel fear in front of communication, and always excuse your not wishing to go on contact – a person is inappropriate, situation is wrong etc. When communication takes place, it turns out, that nothing awful has happened. Negative feelings were an obstacle.
I would… An attempt to motivate situation from a position "it could happen" and "it could not happen" causes complex of guilt and is a reason of exasperation. One feels offence, he feels depressed because the things he did not done. He falls into depression because of impossibility to change something. When behavior falls down below his standards, then possible and impossible cause feelings of disgust for himself, shame and complex of guilt. You may avoid it, if you adjust your requirements to reality and not try to measure your actions by those norms, which other people seem to use.
Labels are self-image and opinion about other people, based completely on negative facts. This is an extreme form of general conclusion of some separate facts, labels are stuck instead of description of one’s own or other people’s mistakes. "I’m an idiot", "He’s bad" – labels can be based on unfounded, even single cases – these are results of emotional splashes. Instead of thinking: "I made a mistake", one thinks: "I’m a loser". A woman ate ice-cream and is angry: "I’m a pig, I’m fat". We cannot characterize our "ego" by one thought. Life is complicated, everything flows and changes. A person is not like a monument. So any label is false and pared-down.
Taking responsibility for events that do not depend on you This means seeing a reason caused negative events, in you, regardless of the fact that there was no possibility to affect them. One thinks that that those were his mistakes and failures that affected negative situation. Taking responsibility for events that do not depend on him creates feeling of guilt, suffering from his own helplessness.
For example, a lecturer notices that somebody is sleeping on a lesson. He thinks at once: "I’m a bad lecturer". But in fact, this person had no sleep during 3 days and just "switched off".
Lecturer is not guilty, but he took responsibility for this on himself.
How to improve your self-esteem
Understanding of the fact that our actions, feelings and behavior are just a result of our ideas and beliefs, gives powerful starting-lever of change of personality.
Create a realistic image of your Ego
The first step to satisfaction with life and yourself consists in creating of a realistic and adequate idea of yourself. As we live in a real world, an image of our Ego should reflect this reality. If your idea of yourself is complete and stable, then you will feel calm and comfortable, otherwise you will feel anxiety and worrying.
Make a list of your pluses and minuses. Write down pluses in one graph, minuses – in other. Remember situations, which confirmed these characteristics. Pay a special attention to minuses – examine each one separately, asking questions: is it true or not (who said it, or why did you decide that you have this minus)? Which facts confirm it? In which situations it is showed? Does this worry you in life? Do other people have this quality? Does it worry them?
Try to balance graph with minuses with characteristics from graph with pluses. For example:
I’m plump, but kind and witty. Or: there’re lots of plump women, but successful and popular. Bring your minuses to positive side. As a result you will receive your portrait, including strong and weak sides, where weak ones are compensated by strong. This will be real estimation of your personality.
Another step – is composing an image of a person, whom you would like to become. For this you need to draw a person, whom you would like to become, in your thoughts. This should not be an invented unreal image of you, as such ideas do not correspond to reality. Think about the way you can change present situation. Probably, you need to go in for sport, receive additional education, communicate more etc.
Your task is to find your real Ego and bring your images of yourself to complete correspondence with an object they reflect. It is very important that pictures would be as much brighter, correspond closer to real experience. You need to pay attention to small details: sounds, color, separate objects. You should imagine yourself in real time. This exercise forms new information in a memory of your nervous system, helps to create a new image of your Ego. After training you will discover with surprise that you are already not trying, but acting in other manner.
Stop measuring your abilities with other people’s standards. You are not the worst, not the best, you are unique. Now you have an image of your Ego, and you live in correspondence with it. So the only criterion of estimation of events – are inner standards.
Work out habit to happiness
Happiness – is a mood, while which we have pleasant thoughts. Ancient Roman philosopher Epictetus said: "People are worried not by events themselves, but by their opinion about these events". According to other famous philosopher and poet Emerson R. words, a measure of psychic health is a habit to search positive sides in everything. If you prefer light thoughts on purpose, this does not mean you live wearing rose-colored glasses. These thoughts form positive image of your Ego. They create positive experience, basing on which you confirm your opinion of yourself like of a successful person, and, thus, act like a successful person.
Habits – are just methods of reaction, which we learned to do automatically. Not less than 95% of things that we call peculiarities of behavior, emotions, reactions, are a result of formed habits. We can change them. For this you need to practice new methods of reaction to events. In other words, replace a habit of constant criticizing yourself and searching minuses by a habit of finding positive sides in any event.
Put only positive goals in front of you If we always come back to past mistakes and failures in our mind, they turn into a goal, which is kept in imagination and memory. At the moment when we change direction of our thoughts, stop intensifying past negative stereotypes, past with its mistakes and failures loses its power over us. Negative purpose is replaced by positive.
Using effort to stay away from undesirable manner of behavior, you really only make it stronger. For example, you want to grow thin and make you eat less by unbelievable efforts of will power. But very soon you slip out and everything repeats. The best way to overcome any habit – is to form a clear image of a wished result in your mind and exercise in gaining your goal effortless.
Yana Mikheeva is the creator of All about women site, it is an on-line resource for women and about women. Here you can find articles on various subjects, such as: diets, receipts, health, cellulite, figure, aromatherapy, wholesome food, psychology of relationships, pregnancy, parenting, fashion and many others. She also has Blog for women
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