Through The Looking Glass
Who Do You See When You Look In the Mirror?
The answer to that question might surprise you...if you are honest. There are many reasons for the answers we have, but the root of it goes down to the shaping of our self-esteem.
What Is Self Esteem?
Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about yourself, such as the assessment of your own appearance, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours. Note: this is highly subjective based on past experiences.
What Shapes Our Self-Esteem?
The shaping of your self-esteem begins in childhood and continues on throughout your life.
On the positive side: if you experience nurturing, encouragement and love in a safe environment growing up, then that usually fosters a healthy developing self-esteem.
On the negative side: if you experience trauma, abuse, pain (physical, emotional or psychological), bullying, etc. and do not feel safe, then that fosters a very negative self-esteem.
What results is an internal monologue. This is a repetitive set of statements of belief.
To give an example from my own life: growing up I endured endless bullying in the form of mocking (the kids would mock my spastic movements), calling me names (cripple, retard, etc.) and physically beating me with fists and feet every single day. I was told I “should have died at birth,” that "I didn't deserve the air I breathed."
Over time, I came to believe those words were true, because every time I looked in the mirror, my internal monologue was a repetitive cycle of these words and I hated who I saw in the mirror.
Your early experiences in life (significant events or relationships which have affected your sense of identity), are what form the foundation that you build upon, putting up walls created by a negative image of yourself. Bullying, rejection abuse, criticism, punishment, neglect, grief, guilt or shame are some of the key reinforcing emotions.
The formation of how you view yourself leads to the development of Core Beliefs (which are conclusions you make about yourself, based upon your early experiences). Some common Core Beliefs, resulting from the types of experiences listed above, would be statements such as: “I am stupid,” “I am worthless", "I can't do anything right", etc.
Once those negative Core Beliefs take root, you assume that they are true. Once that happens, you develop ways to cope which are based on your own assumptions. For example: “Nobody likes me.” (an assumption based on a Core Belief), results in a coping mechanism or unwritten rule of “I have to watch what I say or do at all times or else I’ll be rejected.”
Now we may grow up with a healthy self-esteem and then relationships with partners or coworkers can erode that self-esteem. Life is hard and life experiences have an impact. Low self-esteem is a vicious cycle.
The Cycle of Low Self-Esteem
Low Self-Esteem leads to negative expectations which result in low effort/high anxiety responses which inevitably leads to failure and/or self-blame which further reinforces the low self-esteem.
How to Break the Cycle
It takes courage and the willingness to evaluate your core beliefs and determine exactly what is true and what is a lie.
Once you have replaced the lies that you have bought into with the truth of who you really are, you can then shift your mindset from expecting negative results and negative things in your life to expecting positive results and positive things.
This will provide motivation and decrease your anxiety as you begin to dream for yourself and create plans and actions to achieve your dreams. Maybe you are struggling with this process. There is hope and there is somewhere to turn!
That's where coaching comes in. Finding the right person to come alongside and help is priceless. Guess what?
You, are worth it!