View Full Version : Battling Low Self-Esteem


BellaVita
07-31-15, 10:29 PM
I have been battling low self-esteem since childhood.

I've gone through periods where I've felt confident in myself, but lately that has crumbled and I feel so low about myself.

In my heart, I'm a fearless, confident person. I know that's who I am deep down.

But I went through so much abuse in my life, and so I usually eventually crumble since I was never built up as a person in the first place.

I struggle almost every day with low self-esteem about: my inability to function, my poor social skills, my appearance, my "brains"(intelligence), my lack of experience with things....

It's just a big mess.

Heck - I was even "diagnosed" with poor self-esteem by my old psychiatrist, and he urged my parents to tell me they were proud of me, but they never did.

They always tore me down and made me feel like (and told me) I'm worthless.

I now know that's NOT true , but it's such a deeply ingrained thing that I'm always worried I'm not good enough, not in good enough shape, not smart enough, pretty enough, that I'm too socially awkward etc.....

It doesn't help that I have gained some weight and lost some muscle tone (from an extended period of being sick) but I am slowly getting myself into working out again even if it is painful.

I'm with the most amazing man in the world who builds me up daily - he compliments my intellect, looks, he loves my quirks etc....

But I guess when I hear those things - inside I say "whatever" (I know, that's bad :() and "surely those things can't be true" even though on the outside I say "thank you."

Are there any ways to build up self-esteem after years of getting torn down by toxic people?

Sorry for sooooo many threads lately, I don't have any friends in real life(have trouble making friends:() except for my fiancť, so really this place is all I've got which I love because I love you all so much and you all are full of wisdom. :)

Unmanagable
07-31-15, 11:18 PM
Feeling many of the same things myself right now, bella. ((((Hugs)))) I totally understand.

It's such a defeating feeling to be able to feel that confidence on such an amazing level at times, only to be drop-kicked in the gut repeatedly as all the other feelings come rushing back in.

I'm trying to learn how to more gracefully dance with all of the shadows that I've learned like to linger, but it's still a struggle. May we all feel loved on a level deep enough to sustain our hearts, especially when we need it the absolute most.

That's the part that hurts me the most, I think. Is knowing no one within close proximity of me has been able to reach me on those deeper levels, as of yet, and that eats away at my heart.

dvdnvwls
07-31-15, 11:20 PM
One major part of this (maybe even close to the total of it?) is the fact that basing your self-esteem on the opinions of others can cause a lot of problems. Asking others for their opinion can be useful sometimes for a person who already has a realistic opinion of themselves, but for someone who has difficulty with self-esteem (notice how it's not called other-esteem, that's for a good reason!), always looking to others can become part of the problem.

BellaVita
07-31-15, 11:26 PM
Feeling many of the same things myself right now, bella. ((((Hugs)))) I totally understand.

It's such a defeating feeling to be able to feel that confidence on such an amazing level at times, only to be drop-kicked in the gut repeatedly as all the other feelings come rushing back in.

I'm trying to learn how to more gracefully dance with all of the shadows that I've learned like to linger, but it's still a struggle. May we all feel loved on a level deep enough to sustain our hearts, especially when we need it the absolute most.

That's the part that hurts me the most, I think. Is knowing no one within close proximity of me has been able to reach me on those deeper levels, as of yet, and that eats away at my heart.

((((((((((((Unmanagable)))))))))))))

You put that so beautifully.

Your words always connect with me at a deep level - I was going to mention in my OP that your posts in particular have healed me in many ways internally, but I didn't want to embarrass you.

Your words are written in such a way, that they cut to the the deepest parts of me (in a good way) and they reach my philosophical side that many others cannot reach.

It breaks my heart what you wrote at the end - about not experiencing feeling like someone has reached you in your deeper levels....:(

BellaVita
07-31-15, 11:29 PM
One major part of this (maybe even close to the total of it?) is the fact that basing your self-esteem on the opinions of others can cause a lot of problems. Asking others for their opinion can be useful sometimes for a person who already has a realistic opinion of themselves, but for someone who has difficulty with self-esteem (notice how it's not called other-esteem, that's for a good reason!), always looking to others can become part of the problem.

Yeah, I wish I knew how to believe my own self that I am good enough.

For years, my parents taught me that I only had self-worth if others thought well of me, they also always compared me to others even themselves in negative ways.

"Why can't you be more like so and so...."

"You're so lazy you **** ******** *****"

"I don't even care if you die"

I was actually told those things on a daily basis, and many more. :(

I want to learn REAL ways to build myself up, real ways to heal. Not cover-ups or trying not to look at the situation.

That's why I created this thread.

You seem like such a confident person, what do you tell yourself? (Or what actions do you take that have given you good self-esteem?)

Unmanagable
07-31-15, 11:35 PM
((((((((((((Unmanagable)))))))))))))

You put that so beautifully.

Your words always connect with me at a deep level - I was going to mention in my OP that your posts in particular have healed me in many ways internally, but I didn't want to embarrass you.

Your words are written in such a way, that they cut to the the deepest parts of me (in a good way) and they reach my philosophical side that many others cannot reach.

It breaks my heart what you wrote at the end - about not experiencing feeling like someone has reached you in your deeper levels....:(

Yeah, it breaks mine, too. I feel deeply loved, just not deeply understood and/or accepted as I am. I think the issue often lies in the changes we make within. When we finally DO realize our own depth,strength, and worth. Especially when others observe so closely, but aren't ready or willing to address their own stuff. It seems to add an even stranger element to an already strange world.

aeon
08-01-15, 12:25 AM
Are there any ways to build up self-esteem after years of getting torn down by toxic people?

For me, therapy never worked in this regard, but I did have success in two ways: One, achieving competence/mastery in a skill/activity that required significant effort over time. In my case that was bicycling distance endurance riding, but the key is that I had to work at it, improve my ability, and that it took time and didnít have any cheat or shortcut. The change I experienced was remarkable, and I think thatís because it becomes difficult to think poorly of yourself when you have demonstrated the virtues of self-discipline, sustained effort, achieving a goal, and so on.

Two, I chose to always seek to be the nicest and kindest person I could be at a given point in time, so as to encourage niceness and kindness in those I engaged with, even if that might seem a bit odd given the situation. The little boost came from seeing smiling faces, but the biggest part came from living in alignment with my own values, and choosing and acting in a manner that put the real me closer to my ideal me. It was an act of cultivating my best self.

Sorry for sooooo many threads lately, I don't have any friends in real life(have trouble making friends:()

I get what you mean (literally), but donít forget just how real this forum is here...weíre just not close enough to hug you. ;) But it is real, alright.


Cheers,
Ian

aeon
08-01-15, 12:55 AM
I feel deeply loved, just not deeply understood and/or accepted as I am.

I’ve experienced this, and hindsight being what it is, I will say this, speaking only for myself.

Being loved is wonderful, but I’d give that up in a heartbeat to have the experience of being deeply understood and accepted as I am.*

On some level, that would be the deepest of loves for me, especially in like kind because of the mutual understanding and appreciation of each other’s needs.

------------------

* When I think about the idea of this never happening, in particular I die and that never came to be (even knowing it is a tall order to say the least), it is so immediately triggering of a desperate anger and then overwhelming sadness that makes me wonder and then in a plaintive wail ask “Then what was this for, what was the point?!” Surely selfish, and the death-throes of an ego unsatisfied, rejecting perennial wisdom tradition’s messages of remaining in the present and accepting.

I suppose it shows how flimsy my self-esteem can be in that despite wanting that experience, ultimately, I fear I was only ever here as a child so I could be f****d, drugged, and beaten, and all the after was just theatre for a god with a sick sense of humor. And in those times I can’t find anything else in myself, it tests my ability to bear it, and I do, but I imagine throwing myself from a cliff because it would make the feeling stop.

Sorry for doing a thread derail, but I needed to say that because if I held it inside there would be undesired consequences. And I have to admit, I feel just a little pride for being authentic even when I would judge what I said as ugly. That shows some kind of progress. Toward what, I wonder.


Sigh,
Ian

BellaVita
08-01-15, 02:14 AM
Yeah, it breaks mine, too. I feel deeply loved, just not deeply understood and/or accepted as I am. I think the issue often lies in the changes we make within. When we finally DO realize our own depth,strength, and worth. Especially when others observe so closely, but aren't ready or willing to address their own stuff. It seems to add an even stranger element to an already strange world.

I bolded the part that really stuck out - yes! I've always wanted to describe that but couldn't find the words, yes it is strange when that is added.

:grouphug:

I'm glad to hear you are deeply loved, but I know the anguish not being deeply understood can cause.

BellaVita
08-01-15, 02:27 AM
For me, therapy never worked in this regard, but I did have success in two ways: One, achieving competence/mastery in a skill/activity that required significant effort over time. In my case that was bicycling distance endurance riding, but the key is that I had to work at it, improve my ability, and that it took time and didn’t have any cheat or shortcut. The change I experienced was remarkable, and I think that’s because it becomes difficult to think poorly of yourself when you have demonstrated the virtues of self-discipline, sustained effort, achieving a goal, and so on.

Thank you for bringing this up! :goodpost:

Your right, mastery of a skill or ability really improves confidence.

That's awesome that you are skilled in those areas, and worked so hard to get to where you are.

I think I need to go back to my roots, to the things I enjoy and love, and give my focus to those things.

I've been starting to do that, but it's a slow process.

I also have trouble sticking to something because I'm currently unmedicated and also have a chronic disease that causes pain. (When in a flare-up, which is almost all the time these days :()

But I have a fire that won't die out within me, so I need to harness that.

Two, I chose to always seek to be the nicest and kindest person I could be at a given point in time, so as to encourage niceness and kindness in those I engaged with, even if that might seem a bit odd given the situation. The little boost came from seeing smiling faces, but the biggest part came from living in alignment with my own values, and choosing and acting in a manner that put the real me closer to my ideal me. It was an act of cultivating my best self.

That is beautiful and good.

I agree with everything you wrote, kindness shown to others encourages kindness. Love shown to others brings about love.

It sometimes feels like one of my only purposes on this earth, is to try to make the world a better place and a kinder more compassionate place for those I come I come in contact with.

I guess that's alright. ;)

I get what you mean (literally), but don’t forget just how real this forum is here...we’re just not close enough to hug you. ;) But it is real, alright.

Awww thank you - this place is definitely very real to me and I get recharged emotionally when I come here.

Thanks for being so compassionate, understanding, and thoughtful in your post.

It really does give me a boost to know good people like you exist in the world. :o

stef
08-01-15, 02:29 AM
Loved but not understood, that says it all! I suppose that could be at the root of my own issues with this. This is an amazing thread, I wish I could write more but i cant get my thoughts together right now (not upset but i have to go out soon) :grouphug:

aeon
08-01-15, 03:37 AM
It sometimes feels like one of my only purposes on this earth, is to try to make the world a better place and a kinder more compassionate place for those I come I come in contact with.

I guess that's alright. ;)

I sure hope so, because as a fellow INFP, I know you couldnít help yourself to do otherwise anyway. :p

And I guess thatís alright. ;)


Cheers,
Ian

amberwillow
08-01-15, 03:45 AM
Loved - For myself I find that a strange ill-defined beast.

Understood - sketchy that others could understand me when I do not entirely understand myself. BUT

Acceptance - that is a priceless thing. Acceptance without judgement... Difficult but amazingly productive.

aeon
08-01-15, 04:09 AM
In my experience of being loved but not understood, there were times when the feeling I was loved was clear, but more often I wondered how could I be loved if I wasn’t known?

At that point was the “I love you” not so much about me, but “I love you because you ________,” where the blank can be some variant of “brush my hair,” “take care of my son,” “do the grocery shopping,” “helped put me through grad school,” and so on.

And in truth, there’s another aspect to it. I clearly and unambiguously stated a need I had and asked if she would be willing to help me meet it. In this, I was ignored.

I understand, I asked. She had every right to say no. But if I share a core part of who I am as a human being, and it is simply dismissed... Well, it did make me question if I was loved for my person or for what I could do.

Both are valid in their own way, and I can appreciate that. That said, I needed something deeper, more (psychologically) intimate, and I knew at some point that core need was never going to be met in that relationship.

So now I really question the idea of being loved yet not understood. If I am not understood, what aspect of me inspires the love, and will I have a rude shock one day when discovery of some part of myself marks the point at which the first limit of condition will be raised and stated?

Of course, I state this all as ideals, and with human beings things aren’t so black and white, and people do indeed have limits and conditions, so I understand the need for negotiation and compromise. I may be a dreamer and idealist, but I also appreciate the fact I do live in this world where ideals do not exist save for the imagination.

For me, being loved but not understood has an effect on my self-esteem, and a complex one at that.


Cheers,
Ian

BellaVita
08-01-15, 04:46 AM
* When I think about the idea of this never happening, in particular I die and that never came to be (even knowing it is a tall order to say the least), it is so immediately triggering of a desperate anger and then overwhelming sadness that makes me wonder and then in a plaintive wail ask “Then what was this for, what was the point?!” Surely selfish, and the death-throes of an ego unsatisfied, rejecting perennial wisdom tradition’s messages of remaining in the present and accepting.

I suppose it shows how flimsy my self-esteem can be in that despite wanting that experience, ultimately, I fear I was only ever here as a child so I could be f****d, drugged, and beaten, and all the after was just theatre for a god with a sick sense of humor. And in those times I can’t find anything else in myself, it tests my ability to bear it, and I do, but I imagine throwing myself from a cliff because it would make the feeling stop.

Sorry for doing a thread derail, but I needed to say that because if I held it inside there would be undesired consequences. And I have to admit, I feel just a little pride for being authentic even when I would judge what I said as ugly. That shows some kind of progress. Toward what, I wonder.


Sigh,
Ian

You say whatever you need to on this thread, it's here for all and for others to grow and find love and acceptance and for those to relate to the issues of low self-esteem - but of course not even limited to those things.

As long as things stay within the general topic, it's pretty much totally fine. :)

:grouphug: :grouphug:

I can relate so much to your thoughts, I don't say that to take away from your thoughts (or to say I know exactly what you went through/are going through) - but to hopefully provide comfort in some weird way.

Trying to find the meaning of our past experiences, and present experiences, and "will there ever be anything in the realm of love worthwhile in the future" are things that I have often over-thought about in the past.

I am also all for "living and experiencing the present fully" - but ya know we are human and thoughts tend to keep coming back and we can only do our best.

And our best doesn't mean we should feel bad when those thoughts come up, either.

But anyway, not sure if I'm making sense. I just so feel your pain and hope you will find love and understanding both together - and that you will feel cherished and accepted for who you are as a person.

I know I don't know you, and I can never give anything on a deep level without that I'm guessing, but do know from what I've read you sound like an incredible person with great depth and love and compassion - and I'm sure that will be fully recognized by someone else someday. :)

And yes - thank you for being authentic. It's so refreshing to see authenticity active in our society - so yeah thanks for that refresher.

I don't think your thoughts were ugly or selfish, I think they were perfectly normal and needed and good and lovely.

(Hope I'm not coming across as weird or what I'm saying gets taken the wrong way - but I guess you could say I really relate to you and so I want you to know yes yes please do feel free to share anything you need to say)

salleh
08-01-15, 11:08 AM
......FOr some reason, I know not why, I have always had a fair amount of self-confidence, not to the point of conceit, and there were times of self doubt ......I was kinda cute and kinda talented and kinda smart .....still am mostly .....but ...

....My sister Katy, she had it all, tall blond beautiful, smart as a whip, ( with a photographic memory) funny as can be, loved critters to distraction, hugely talented in acting and visual arts, ( sculpting and painting ) ....designed and made her own clothes without a pattern ..she'd just lay the fabric on the floor and cut the pieces out .....and they were stunning ....( she sewed them by hand, with a needle and thread ) ....tender hearted to a fault......

...Those were just the high points of the miracle that was Katy ......but Katy never really believed in herself ....she was constantly tortured by feelings of self doubt, and her self worth was tied in with her perceived beauty, if she didn't look perfect, she felt horrible .....

.....So, self- confidence and self worth are not tied to who you really are ......Katy taught me that many decades ago .....they are internal lies you are telling yourself for some reason ......


..I know that it's hard to find mental health care for free in this country .....but have you looked into therapy ? ....medication is good for us ADHDers, but many of us require therapy too ......years of being put down for our differences takes a heavy toll on our self worth ....and your parents are in the spot-light for that ......

.....A therapist can help you find the tools to battle those feelings .....and I am pretty sure that there are some out there who will help for little or no money .....try CHADD to start .....or check with your local social services .....a word of warning .....if the person you are seeing isn't sitting right with you for some reason .....stop immediately and find someone else ......do not let a mental health person make you feel worse about yourself cause they are "trained " ......there are some nasty ones out there ......sad to say .....


....The other thing is to try to work on something you love, the way Ian brought up ....when you are doing something you love to do, and getting good results ....you will feel so much better about yourself it's really kind of mind boggling .....


.....Just sitting and fretting about all this is a self defeating endless loop, and can also start a downward spiral and you need to find a way to jar yourself out of it .....therapy AND working on something you love should head you in the right direction .....

dvdnvwls
08-01-15, 02:57 PM
It sometimes feels like one of my only purposes on this earth, is to try to make the world a better place and a kinder more compassionate place for those I come I come in contact with.

You've nailed that part, let me tell you. :D :grouphug:

BellaVita
08-02-15, 12:22 AM
In my experience of being loved but not understood, there were times when the feeling I was loved was clear, but more often I wondered how could I be loved if I wasn’t known?

I had those same thoughts in one of my previous relationshipships.

I was loved, that was very clear, but my inner depths were not understood and they didn't even get looked at. :(

At that point was the “I love you” not so much about me, but “I love you because you ________,” where the blank can be some variant of “brush my hair,” “take care of my son,” “do the grocery shopping,” “helped put me through grad school,” and so on.

And in truth, there’s another aspect to it. I clearly and unambiguously stated a need I had and asked if she would be willing to help me meet it. In this, I was ignored.

Ouch, that really hurts doesn't it. I'm sorry to hear you went through that.

I understand, I asked. She had every right to say no. But if I share a core part of who I am as a human being, and it is simply dismissed... Well, it did make me question if I was loved for my person or for what I could do.

Yes, ugh, makes one question everything when a specific need that goes to your core is asked (to get met), and it is treated as if that need doesn't exist.

Both are valid in their own way, and I can appreciate that. That said, I needed something deeper, more (psychologically) intimate, and I knew at some point that core need was never going to be met in that relationship.

Sounds like we've been through very similar things.

Those words are exactly what I discovered, when I was in my last relationship. Everything was great, I was protected and loved, but that deep psychological connection and understanding I was longing for was missing.

It wasn't there in the way I needed, anyway.

(I was in a relationship with an INFJ, this tends to happen in INFP x INFJ relationships)

So now I really question the idea of being loved yet not understood. If I am not understood, what aspect of me inspires the love, and will I have a rude shock one day when discovery of some part of myself marks the point at which the first limit of condition will be raised and stated?

Wow, the part I bolded really got to me.

Perfectly put.

Of course, I state this all as ideals, and with human beings things aren’t so black and white, and people do indeed have limits and conditions, so I understand the need for negotiation and compromise. I may be a dreamer and idealist, but I also appreciate the fact I do live in this world where ideals do not exist save for the imagination.

For me, being loved but not understood has an effect on my self-esteem, and a complex one at that.


Cheers,
Ian

Trust me, I'm so glad I never gave up on my ideals.....I almost did(to a certain extent), I almost thought "nah, those things don't actually exist do they?" but they did, they do.

Thanks again for so poetically and perfectly sharing your thoughts.

anonymouslyadd
08-02-15, 12:36 AM
I have quotes from people on here that have really helped me. I read them when I'm feeling really crappy about myself.

aeon
08-02-15, 02:29 AM
Ouch, that really hurts doesn't it. I'm sorry to hear you went through that.

(I was in a relationship with an INFJ, this tends to happen in INFP x INFJ relationships)

She typed as INFJ.


Shrug,
Ian