Building a healthy sense of self

Positive self-esteem: the immune system of the spirit

Almost every aspect of our lives – our personal happiness, success, relationships with others, achievement, creativity, dependencies, even our sex lives – revolves around one core characteristic: our self-esteem. In the deepest part of ourselves we all carry an image (one which we may not even be completely aware of) of who we are as a person and how worthy we are in relation to others. Whether or not it actually corresponds to reality, this image guides us through our day-to-day activities, significantly affecting everything from our choice of career and spouse to what kind of clothes we wear. This self-image is similar to an oil painting: layer upon layer of paint has been applied since our birth to create a complex internal representation. Each time our parents, teachers or friends made a comment (“You’re stupid” or “You have a lot of talent “) and each time we interpreted others behavior toward us in a certain way (“They chose him as captain because he’s more popular”), we add another layer to that canvas. This painting now serves as the backdrop for the way we display ourselves throughout our lives, and is not easily altered once the layers become too thick.

Many of us carry around self-doubts that limit our potential. We doubt how capable we will be at performing a new job, we doubt whether we can keep our lover interested, or we doubt whether we’re smart enough to finish that university program. Whatever the case may be, this is where a choice needs to be made: we can either let those self-doubts control our actions, or we can work through them by improving the things we can change and accepting those we can’t. As deep as the layers of our self-image may be, we are all capable of stripping away the negative layers and replacing them with positive ones. Only then can we start working on the most important relationship we’ll ever have: the relationship with ourself.

Healthy self-esteem means thinking as highly of yourself as you think of your friends and peers. We are so used to negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses than our strengths. We are often taught we will “fail,” so it is often hard to enjoy success, no matter how small each “success” might be.

We help people feel competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and to feel worthy of happiness.  High self-esteem is crucial during the turbulence of teenage years.  Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the spirit, helping individuals face life problems and bounce back from adversity.

Related information on this topic

Doctors within our practice who focus on Self-Esteem issues:

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Oak Brook | 1200 Harger Road, Ste. 220

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