Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Rehabilitation is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
WHAT IS SELF ESTEEM?
"Self Esteem" (how we feel about ourselves) is influenced by many factors. A person's upbringing, peer group pressure, current employment, physical appearance and so on, all interact to help determine how we feel about ourselves. It is our perception of us, and in many cases it is not 100% accurate! It can also be based on flawed perception of what others think of us. Too often people are focused on how they do not match up to society’s current ideal, rather than focusing on their positive attributes. It is in essence our personal assessment and judgement of ourselves as compared to those around us.
However volatile or inaccurate a person’s perception of himself is, self esteem is the key to a successful, happy and productive life. It affects the state of our personal happiness, for we cannot be happy if we do not like ourselves; and it also affects the way we do our job, the kind of relationships we have, the success or failure of raising our children. It's the generator of human motivation! Someone with low self esteem is generally depressed and/or anxious, second guessing themselves, conditioning themselves to failure and lacking in motivation. “It's all too hard”, “I’ll never be good enough” etc is the common mindset of low self esteem.
Our self esteem therefore is the index of how we feel about ourselves. It reflects if we see ourselves as a worthy, capable, lovable, significant persons, or as a useless, inept, unlovable and insignificant person.
Some have defined self esteem as our inner mirror. This is a particularly useful metaphor, since it is concrete and helps us visualise the concept of self esteem. The inner mirror of self esteem is created in the early years of life. It is brought about through the way we perceive the attitude toward us of people who are significant in our life, especially our parents.
Self esteem is established through respect and approval from others, actual achievement and success, and acceptance of, and acting upon ones inner nature. The way in which parents, extended family friends and siblings respond to, treat and interact with a child is critical in the development of their self-esteem. It is important to emphasise positive traits and characteristics and to engage in positive, sincere and reinforcing interactions with even small children.
Therefore, self-image is a neutral description of ourselves. E.g. I am a woman. Self-esteem is an estimation of our worth e.g. “I am a lovely woman.”, “I am a kind woman.” “I am an ugly woman” etc.
The Importance of Self-Esteem
How a person feel affects how they live our lives. If they feel loved and liked -
· They often have better relationships with others.
· They are more likely to ask family and friends for help and support.
· They will believe they can accomplish our goals and aims.
· People who think they can accomplish goals are most likely to do well in school.
Therefore having a good self-esteem allows people to accept themselves and live life more fully.
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS - STRESS AND PERFECTIONISM
A perfectionist can affect their stress own stress levels and self-esteem. Many perfectionists feel that they are effective because of their perfectionist traits, but much research has shown that that actually isn’t the case. If you are not sure if you are a perfectionist, or would like to encourage others to look at their perfectionist tendencies, there are many tests available on the internet.
Consider the traits of a perfectionist. They may not undertake a task unless they can do it perfectly, they may feel disappointed in themselves if they make a mistake, they may set themselves unrealistic expectations, they may not start tasks at all because they are scared they won’t do them perfectly and so on. Perfectionism, therefore, can have negative consequences
People cannot be good at everything. Not everyone is a supermodel or Einstein or the perfect mother or father, athlete or superstar. It is important for people to be realistic about who they are. A person must consider who they are and what they have to offer other people, as well as considering their own weaknesses. Being honest with themselves will enable people to carry out an accurate assessment of themselves. This will also enable them to consider areas that they may wish to improve. For example, if they realise that they are not good at listening to others and this is affecting their relationships, they may try harder to actively listen and improve this in themselves. If a person is overly critical of themselves, it can overwhelm them, believing they have nothing positive to give. Whereas, if a person views themselves too highly, they may appear arrogant and ignore their own flaws, which may become worse and worse.
Learning to accept one’s self is the key building block in the structure of self esteem. One realistically assesses abilities, and capitalises on strengths while recognising weaknesses. High self esteem is not dependent upon total success. It means a readiness to see in oneself those limits that are there, and a healthy sense of pride in the abilities and competencies that are present. It also implies a trust of one’s inner nature, the ability to make decisions confidently and carry them out even in the face of disapproval and criticism.
To understand their own perfectionist tendencies, it is useful to record perfectionist tendencies. A person should be encouraged to record them as they pop into their heads. For example –
“I had a great idea this afternoon, but then thought about it more and realised that it wouldn’t work well.”
“I was going to clean out my shed today, but realised I wouldn’t have time to do it properly, so didn’t bother.”
“I couldn’t decide what to wear tonight, everything made me look fat, so I told my friends I had a headache and didn’t go out.”
When a person starts to record their feelings of perfectionism, they may be amazed at how much they DON’T do because of their feelings. Their view can be – “If I can’t do it perfectly, then why bother?” But who can ever do EVERYTHING perfectly? It’s not realistic OR possible, so a person must learn to accept that and try to be less of a perfectionist.
That is obviously easier than it sounds. Some methods of changing perfectionist behaviour –
* If a person doesn’t seem able to do housework and tidying because they haven’t got time to do a perfect job, they may try some little techniques to get started. Such as – Every time I go into a room, I will change that room for the better. This may only mean picking up a book and putting it into the right place, straightening a cushion, putting a cup in the dishwasher, simple things, but if done every time a person goes into a room, this can make tasks easier. A second tactic is to only set small targets. e.g. “I will clean this room for ten minutes, so I will dust those shelves.” “I will mop this floor” or similar.
* Setting smaller targets to be done can help. Rather than setting a large task like “I am going to decorate my entire house” or “I am going to improve my business profits by 50% this year”, set smaller targets. E.g. I’m going to paint my front door this week. I’m going to paint that window frame this week and so on. It may take longer to complete, but at least you are starting to complete tasks, whereas only starting when you are able to do the WHOLE house may never happen. Setting targets like improving business by 50% is again unrealistic – HOW are you going to do this. Sitting down and deciding on the smaller tasks required to do this can be helpful. e.g. improving my internet present. OK, this is still quite a large task, so this could again be broken down. e.g. write a twitter note once a week. Write a note on facebook once a week. Add ten links a week to my website and so on. These smaller tasks can be diarised and worked on a weekly basis. So the person can see that they are doing something regularly and well.
*Understand that no one is perfect. Obviously a person does not want to make mistakes. This is not good. For example, an accountant would not want to think that it was ok for them to make mistakes in adding up regularly. It obviously would not be good for them professionally. BUT EVERYONE does make mistakes at times. It is important that people accept that mistakes can be made and learn from them, rather than simply criticising and berating themselves.
*If a person has a tendency to notice that they are always bad. (Also see the notes on the inner critic in this lesson), they must also try to improve this tendency. Every time they see something bad about themselves, they should make a list of five good things about themselves. This will hopefully encourage them to have a more positive view of themselves.
*Goals set by perfectionists often tend to be for unreasonable excellence, with no account taking of learning time and so on. A perfectionist may allow little time for error. It can reduce stress by changing goals to smaller steps, as discussed above, and also rewarding themselves for goals achieved. For example, a person decides to go to the gym five times a week, although they have not done any exercise for years. This is likely to be unrealistic and it is likely that the person will stop after a short time because they just can’t keep it up. It would be better to aim for twice a week, but go more if they can. They will hopefully achieve this twice a week and feel good that they are, and then if they go three times a week, they will feel better about themselves.
*Another consideration for the perfectionist is enjoyment. The perfectionist may not enjoy many of the tasks they give themselves because they are so worried about them being perfect. They may focus so much on the results that they don’t enjoy the process itself. When they are completing any task, they should be encourage to consider WHY they are doing the task and whether they actually enjoy it. They may find that they enjoy planning the process, achieving each goal and so on. They should focus on this enjoyment or satisfaction, rather than just focussing all their sense of achievement on the final outcome.
*Perfectionists may also find it difficult to handle criticism. They may view criticism as a person attack and respond accordingly. Mistakes are a good way to learn and improve, so if a criticism is harsh, it is a good practice for the perfectionist to get into that they are learning, the same as everyone else.