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In a recent BBC article, about Self Esteem and Self Help, BBC News reported “Self help makes you feel worse”.
Could this be true? You bet it can!
By way of an analogy, Let’s say you have children and continually give them unspecified praise like, “Oh you are very good”, “Oh you are so clever”, “You are such a little gem”.
After a while, pretty fast in fact, these praise statements lose their intended positivity and serve to build unhelpful aspects of identity. Why is this?
It is because these statements are not backed up with evidence or reasons which support the praise. If they are backed up they might look like this.
“Oh you are so clever because you have shown me how you did all your homework”.
“Oh you are a little gem because you have tidied up all your toys. Thank you!”
So you wont really be surprised that supporting evidence and reason actually build positive aspects of identity over time.
The BBC reports that the growing trend of using self-help mantras to boost your spirits may actually have a detrimental effect. The news comes from Canadian research, which found that people with low self-esteem felt worse after repeating positive statements about themselves.
This experimental research on university students has found that concentrating on positive thoughts and statements made people with high self-esteem feel even better, but those with low self-esteem to felt worse and had saw their self-esteem dip.
It is absolutely no surprise that if you have low self esteem and you simply tell yourself you have high positive self esteem you will most likely make yourself feel worse.
So Why is this?
Pretty simple really. It it because two things are happening.
1. You are lying to yourself and you know it! Never a good thing!
2. This method fails because self esteem is not created by talking to yourself. Simply telling yourself or repeating a mantra means there is no attention paid to how you structure your own self esteem in terms of your experiences, memories and neurological identity imprints.
So if you do have low self esteem and you want to increase it, how do you go about it safely?
A great place to start is to know what self esteem actually is!
You see, we have been using the term ‘self esteem’ and it may surprise you that not so many people using the term actually know what self esteem is.
If you want a easy to understand definition for self esteem, and you want some ideas of the structure of how to increase your self esteem then please look at this recent post.