Dealing With Low Self-Esteem

06 Nov 18

One of the main areas I see clients about is low self-esteem, though I’d yet to write a piece for the website on this. Until now.

I have seen many people over the last few years struggling to accept themselves, mostly women and girls, though this may well be down to men being less likely to open up and discuss this issue. But we’re in a society that now offers breast implants to men too, so clearly there is an issue here that needs acknowledging.

But let’s focus on women first.

So what’s the issue? Usually how we look. The media bombards us with images of what society tells us are sexually attractive women. Advertising, films, TV, magazines, music videos consistently use blatant overtly sexualised images of women. These women all look ‘perfect’ and whilst we all know how images and video are doctored to create these unachievable looks, on some level it sinks in that we don’t look like that. When something is repeatedly drummed into us, those pathways in the brain are reinforced and when we team that with telling ourselves we’re not good enough, those neural pathways become deeper ingrained.

So here’s an opportunity to make money. The shops are full of padded bras, some up to two sizes bigger. They’re now also full of padded knickers to get that Kardashian bum. Jeans and underwear that sculpts and shapes, so suddenly the streets are full of women with a hip to waist ratio beyond the 70/30% studies show men find desirable. More dangerously, cosmetic surgery is now commonplace. We can have injections into our buttocks to fatten them up. Botox in our wrinkles to hide the lines that are a part of us. Marketing tells us breast implants are safer now, but there are still dangers and women are willing to risk these in order to appear more attractive to men by society’s standards. There are celebrities that openly admit to having implants, some who say it’s the best thing they did for their career, some who regret it and once famous enough they have them removed. How sad that our achievements should be so influenced by how we look. How scary that so many female stars see surgery as the go to option, it really has become the norm to use surgery to change their bodies rather than address their confidence.

I have seen young women seeking guidance from me before they go under the knife. Thankfully, they came to me first. There are so many areas we can address here. But let’s consider men and boys before I do.

Body image as a trend for women has sadly existed for many many years. But now it too seems society has seen a market in making money out of vulnerable men too. Whilst this is a newer concept in terms of body image, it is dripping down into society with young lads feeling the need to measure up to their idols. From what I have seen in the therapy room, the pressure for males is still more in being capable than how they look. But image is becoming more of an issue. Just how prevalent this issue is, is hard for me to know because society has also pressured men into always been strong, never showing weakness, never showing lack of confidence. This I suspect is why I see far fewer males than females in my office. But this trend is starting to change with more and more younger men now requesting therapy with me. Although interestingly, males still tend to request more help in boosting their confidence in their abilities and personalities than in how they look.

So what can we do besides faking it?

Facing up to our issues may seem harder than simply going under the knife, but the benefits of self-acceptance far outweigh the dangers of surgery. Please recognise this is a short article, touching on the basics of a deep and complex issue.

The roots of our self esteem may well go back to childhood. Whilst our brains remain malleable through our lives, there is no doubt that what we experience when we are young and impressionable may well leave us predisposed to low self esteem in adulthood. But whatever age we are, if we are repeatedly told something, eventually it can sink in. The brain soaks up information that we can come to believe. Once we feel we’re not good enough it may affect our life choices leading us further down a road to unworthiness. But we can turn this around. Being told nice things about ourselves does boost our confidence, so when someone says something nice, soak that up. Say thank you and accept it without denial (even if you don’t believe it). After all, we’re quick to simply accept the negatives. This however is not a miracle cure, as Fritz Pearls once said, “if we need praise, encouragement and pats on the back from everyone, then we make everyone our judge”. This is simply a step in the right direction. The key is in believing in your own self-worth inside of yourself, recognising our value as individuals, not needing the approval of others for how we look.

But when our self esteem is rock bottom this is beyond challenging.

This is where hypnotherapy may help. All those years of feeling bad about ourselves has created neural pathways that it’s far too easy to keep reinforcing. Working on this subconsciously can create a positive environment for rewiring the brain to a more realistic way of seeing ourselves and others. I’m a big believer in working on the conscious brain as part of hypnotherapy sessions. This makes for a far more effective long term outcome. We can address those errors in thinking consciously with CBT. Plus, we can recognise the unrealistic pressures we put on ourselves to look like people who in truth, don’t really even look like that! With the hypnotherapy side of treatment working on our subconscious alongside this conscious effort, the results can be very effective. Hypnotherapy can boost our self esteem and confidence in ourselves, helping us recognise our good qualities. It can also be used to let go of those things in our past that may be holding us back, part of the treatment plan can include opening the mind to recognising events that may have shaped us in a less than positive way, enabling us to make sense of them and let them go. Eat client is an individual needing to address their issues in their own way.

So maybe it’s time we stopped wanting to look like everyone else and valued those qualities that make us the unique human beings that we are. Society will always strive to make us insecure as there is a profit to be made from this. Maybe it’s time we stepped back from those pressures and enjoyed simply being ourselves.