HW 2: Low self-esteem

This is one of the universally occurring traits of depressed people. Maybe not all depressed people have low self-esteem but those who have are innumerable.

I haven’t given this much thought before I started this blog. I’ve thought about many of my traits, about reasons behind my depression attacks and so forth. But I’ve always just taken it for a given, having low self-esteem.

Well, time to check it. I believe in change. I believe I can change. I believe I can change my low self-esteem into … not so low self-esteem. 

You see, how I started the last paragraph? With confidence. Until I noticed it. Then my enthusiasm diminished. (Or my vocabulary is lacking.)

One of the reasons, the fear of appearing pretentious, and the consequential self-check when I act confidently.
I see people, let’s say on tv or blogs – they are all confident. I like that. But when the confidence is overblown, the people showy, not so much. It’s repelling to me. I watch and read them, mostly because they have something important and interesting to say, but their persona is not endearing. I gawk at them in disbelieving awe.
I want to be confident, I want to be like them. I don’t want to be like them. Blech to me. I condemn my awe, I ridicule their pomp. Secretly I want it too.

So I check my behaviour, I check my thoughts – not showing too much of anything. To blend in the crowd. But I want to stand out so much. I love a stage, being on stage. I fear ridicule. Ping. Pong.
I guess it’s not the low self-esteem in this case that’s the problem. It’s the clashing of two opposite desires that cause my depression.

This came as a surprise to me (I just brainstormed to see where it took me). What else is there?

Perfectionism. I won’t dwell on the egg-first-chicken-first paradox. Is unfulfilled perfection the reason for low self-esteem or is it the other way around? It’s a vicious circle.
Mostly my low self-esteem stems from failure at perfection. Because most of the time I’m a perfectionist (in the bad sense of the word).
Of course, I know I can’t reach perfection. But I still try. It’s ingrained. I try to lessen this impulse every time I notice it.
In short. I strive for perfection, I fail, I condemn myself, I take it as a proof of my un-worth, voila: low self-esteem next time I try something.
Anyway, this is not the time to analyse perfectionism.

What caused this behaviour/thought pattern? Who cares. I need to approach it behaviouristic-ally. Well, I care. Maybe I need to make a small session out of it and lay on a couch a bit. Blech again.

— [Jack shakes his head, he’d rather see I made my mind] — [Don is an advocate for psychoanalysis, I guess. He’s at ease now.] — [Mos approves I give this a thought, but she’s not needed, so she waits at the back] — 

Confidence vs. self-esteem. What can I say about it? I think my concepts about it are jumbled. I’ll try to comb through it.

What I know: I have confidence in a few of my abilities. I can write well. I can organise an event. I can be a good revisor because I can spot mistakes and details from a mile away. I can’t cook. I’m lousy as a parent. I’m bad at focusing and being on-time. I find it difficult to decide. I don’t want to change (but I know I should and I want to be an adaptable, entrepreneurial, person). I can work well under extreme stress, but I can’t work under constant high stress. (Dumb, right?)

This is not a balanced list. It’s a ping-pong match again. At a first glance, it seems as though my positive traits are internal (I feel them to be true) while the negative seem to need an outside confirmation (I look for proof). Perfectionism also plays a part.
Still, what can I do about it? I need an inspiration. I’ll go browsing the web.

In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.” … “Synonyms or near-synonyms of self-esteem include: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, and self-integrity.” (Wikipedia, 6 August 2017)

Up to here, I wrote it in 2 sessions, 6 – 9 August 2017. Then, I think I got tired, gone to browse the web for inspiration, found inspiration, lost inspiration, got a job offer and my world upside down, and lost inspiration again for this post. And also my memory of what I wrote. It’s quite fascinating how I can be ever again surprised at my own words and findings. Today, it’s 3 November 2017.

I found this on the web 3 months ago:

Vulnerable self-esteem” (of a wider classification of self-esteem types, Wikipedia, 3 November 2017)
“The individual has a generally positive self-image. However, their self-esteem is also vulnerable to the perceived risk of an imminent anti-feat (such as defeat, embarrassment, shame, discredit), consequently they are often nervous and regularly use defense mechanisms. A typical protection mechanism of those with a Vulnerable Self-Esteem may consist in avoiding decision-making. Although such individuals may outwardly exhibit great self-confidence, the underlying reality may be just the opposite: the apparent self-confidence is indicative of their heightened fear of anti-feats and the fragility of their self-esteem. They may also try to blame others to protect their self-image from situations which would threaten it. They may employ defense mechanisms, including attempting to lose at games and other competitions in order to protect their self-image by publicly dissociating themselves from a ‘need to win’, and asserting an independence from social acceptance which they may deeply desire. In this deep fear of being unaccepted by an individual’s peers, they make poor life choices by making risky choices.”


Compliments and Self-Esteem” (Why Some People Hate Receiving Compliments)
… “compliments can make people with low self-esteem feel uncomfortable because they contradict their own self-views. … In other words, receiving praise from others when we feel negatively about ourselves elicits discomfort because it conflicts with our existing belief system. If we believe we’re truly undesirable, hearing compliments about how attractive we are will feel jarring and inauthentic. If we believe we’re unintelligent, someone lavishing us with praise about how smart we are will feel more like a taunt than a compliment. And if we’re convinced we’re incapable of success, receiving praise about our how capable we are can feel like a set-up for future heartbreak and disappointment.”

Again, surprise. I never thought my sort of problems were so common that someone is studying them. This is sooo my description.
Except that attempts (the first finding) at losing competitions / doing a job poorly are attempts at lessening the high expectations everyone has for me. Perfectionism again. I really need to do a session for perfectionism…

Constant deprecation
People close to me always disapprove of what I do or don’t do. My parents, my husband, my boss… Is this external influence one of the reasons my self-esteem is low? Or is my low self-esteem the reason I let people walk all over me?
Like, “Why are you complicating” or “Why do you ask such stupid questions?” I do complicate, I do ask questions no one wants to answer, but how can I get answers by not asking? Why everyone understands things and I don’t?

Am I stupid, too smart or just different? Why everyone understands simple things and I don’t? Do I want to be like the others? Yes and no.  I like myself. At least when I don’t have to compare. Like at work. I’m slow, methodical, like to have a good archive, but the world today doesn’t need slow people, no matter how perfect the final product would be.

I haven’t grown up. 
I have questions and insecurities about myself that are characteristic of adolescence. I haven’t resolved them yet and I feel inadequate. I feel nonevolved, stupid, late.

My senses have deteriorated
I have weak senses of sight, smell and probably hearing. I feel like I was in a bubble, detached from the world I live in. Actually, the problem is more my feeling of otherness, of alien-ness that contributes to my low self-esteem.

Skin problems
I have some skin irritations, pimples that are filled with itchy fluid, and I can’t leave them be. I scratch, I squeeze, I spread the virus. I think skin herpes is also present sometimes. When I come near to people, especially to my children or at work, I fear I’m contagious, I fear I’ll infect them, and I fear the diseases are transparently visible. I fear people are just polite and pretend they don’t see my awful face… or that they are oblivious and would be “collaterals” of my sick person. I think I’m aware that my logic is twisted but that’s how I feel.

And because I have emotional problems, I’m not a worthy friend to have. I can’t connect with people for fear they’d recognise me as a fake, as a not-good-enough.


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Consequences of low self-esteem
I stick to tested, proven and safe things. No entrepreneurial things.

Fear of failure. Actually, belief in the negative outcome of everything I do. And then surprise when I succeed.

Fear of people like me, or clever people or observant people, or just people I yearn their approval.
I don’t know why. I fear one day they’ll see through me and see I was a fake and hollow. I avoid people, mostly the ones I yearn their approval the most.

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That was self-esteem in general. I could, for the sake of you, the readers, made the post short and split into a few chunks, but I won’t. I need to do what’s best for me. That means putting everything I can think of self-esteem into one article, so I can easily find it the next time I read it. And I really am aware I write too long for readability. Low opinion of myself, low self-esteem etc. I need to write such things down. Maybe someday I’ll laugh at it. I hope so.

(There’s more but I’m getting nowhere, it’s already two months since I started writing this post. The post is awful, but I’m posting it as it is to fight perfectionism.)


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