Do you assume that people won’t like you? Then, thinking that you are not good enough, do you isolate yourself, and end up feeling lonely?
Maybe you’ve tried to combat this pattern by forcing yourself into social situations? And, then, when you are in these social situations, do you feel awkward or phony?
Or perhaps, because you feel so badly about yourself, you are surrounded by people who are “takers”?
These situations can leave you feeling very alone. Unseen, unappreciated, and unvalued.
This is a tough place to be.
Research tells us that all of us have a strong need to be valued, seen and appreciated. When you don’t receive this, the most vital part of you curls up and goes into hiding.
Let me tell you about Elizabeth*, and what she did to turn her life around.
Elizabeth had felt that she wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or worthy of attention most of her life.
She had been told, over and over again by her parents, that the “good life “ was “not for people like her”. The best she could expect was to get by, and she’d be “lucky to find anyone who’d marry her”.
It wasn’t that her parents wished her ill, but they were brash and extrovert by nature. Consequently, they were baffled by Elizabeth’s sensitivity and introvert tendencies.
They thought that someone with her traits would be crushed by the “real world” and sought to protect her by telling her to reduce her expectation and her reach.
And it worked. Elizabeth made her life small.
She had a job she didn’t really like, doing something she didn’t care about, had friends that she—when she was honest with herself—found intensely boring.
She had a brash, extrovert boyfriend who really didn’t pay attention to her needs, wants or interests. Often, Elizabeth felt like his unpaid maid rather than a life partner.
Her loneliness was intense, especially in the small hours of the night.
Sometimes, positive change takes the guise of disaster. So it was for Elizabeth.
In the course of few hours two devastating things happened to her. She lost her job, and coming home early, she found her boyfriend in bed with another woman.
She felt like a complete failure. All she wanted to do was to crawl into bed, hide under the covers, and stay there forever.
But, rather than completely giving into her feelings of worthlessness, she reached out for help.
The Journey to Feeling Connected
Elizabeth came into therapy expecting that I would give her some kind of pep-talk, try to reason her out of her low self-esteem, and then get frustrated when she failed to “recover”.
Instead, we spent time in discovery, finding out about all the different aspects of Elizabeth. Her interests, her thoughts, her wishes, and her dreams. At first it was hard for her to articulate these things, because she was not used to being heard.
Over time, she discovered that the low self-esteem was just a part of her.
She also had many other parts, such as creativity, joy, anger, determination, a great sense of humour, and a zest for life.
Most surprisingly, she connected to an inner well-spring of confidence and calm, which became her source of courage and energy as she moved forward.
She discovered an interest and aptitude for writing, and eventually found work as a blogger. She loved it!
Even more, she re-awakened her love of animals, volunteered at the local animal shelter, and adopted two small dogs who had experienced much abuse. Learning how to get them to trust again made her feel of real worth, and she made friends with similar interests and values.
They were not boring at all.
There were lots of difficult steps, such as grieving the limited relationship with her parents and reducing her contact with them.
Within 8 months, Elizabeth didn’t feel alone anymore. She was connected to friends who cared about her and animals who loved her. Her life felt full of meaning and worth.
When to get help
Often the first step to changing ingrained patterns is to take one small step into something unfamiliar, something that you actually want.
For some, that is not too difficult, whereas for others, that’s when the low self-esteem messages become very loud. If that is what happens to you, this may be a good time to get some help.
Otherwise, it is possible that your attempts to make changes will be sabotaged by your low self-esteem.
Therapy can help stop that self-sabotage, and create lasting improvements, like it did for Elizabeth.
When you are ready, I invite you to call me at 250 515 2123 or contact me through the pop-up box on my website. I look forward to hearing from yo
* Elizabeth is a pseudonym, and the details have been modified for privacy.