Our feeling of self-worth from the core of our personality. Nothing is more important to our psychological well-being. The level of our self-esteem affects virtually every aspect of our lives. It affects how we perceive ourselves, and how they subsequently treat us. It affects our choices in life, from our careers to whom we befriend or get involved with romantically. It influences how we get along with others and how productive we are, as well as how much we make of our abilities. It affects our ability to take action when things need to change and our ability to be creative. It affects our stability, and even affects whether we tend to be followers or leaders. It only stands to reason that the level of our self-esteem, the way we feel about ourselves in general, would also affect our ability to form intimate relationships’.
Many people use the words self-esteem and self-concept interchangeably, but these terms actually have different meanings. Our self-concept, or self-image, is the set of beliefs or images we have about ourselves. Our self-esteem is the measure of how much we like and approve of our self-concept. Many of the ideas we have about ourselves were acquired in childhood from two sources: how others treated us and what others told us about ourselves. How others defined us has becomes how we perceive ourselves. Your self-image — who you think you are— is a package that you have put together from how others have seen and treated you, and from the conclusions you drew in comparing yourself to others.
(Self Esteem Third Edition- Matthew McKay, PH.D./ Patrick Fanning)
I have become so accustomed to putting myself down in my head, it’s something I’ve done most of my life. It’s an immediate reaction. I have always failed myself before anyone else could fail me. Anything I was actually good at or I was told I was good at, I would quit shortly after hearing “you should keep it up, you’re very talented.” For example, I have been told I am an amazing artist when it comes to drawing. I stopped drawing a while ago, and anytime I do I keep it to myself. I played soccer for almost 12 years and towards the end, I was told to go provincial because I would be an asset to the team. So I quit and I haven’t played since. Not a very productive thing to do. But I haven’t yet figured out why I did this, of why I still do this. But I know it’s something I need to figure out so I can correct it, I have missed a lot of opportunities because I am so afraid to mess up. It’s a little ironic that I am so afraid to fail in this aspect, but when I look back I’ve fucked up so many things as a result of my addictions. I think some of it has to do with my dad, and I feel awful saying this, I know he would lose his mind if he read this but I always go back to him and the way he did/ does things. His dad; my grandpa was physically abusive. My dad believes because he’s not physically abusing his kids that the emotional abuse is okay. My dad has been emotionally abusive my whole life. To me, to my brother, to my mom. He has a way of belittling you until you feel so small and worthless. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad to pieces; he’s one of my favourite people. My dad and I are very close and I can tell him anything and everything. But that does not mean I agree with the way he handles things. My mom has become so accustomed to being put down she doesn’t even cry anymore. Actually I don’t either, I am use to it. But I think it still affects me. My brother isn’t use to it yet. My dad has a switch, I am always careful about what I say and how I say it. And I know if he is drinking, then not to argue, to just keep quiet.
As I am writing this, I feel a wave of guiltiness rushing through me. I feel awful for saying those things’ about my dad. But it’s true. I am very defensive when it comes to my dad even if what is being said isn’t negative. Its weird, I don’t fully understand it. I think I grew up thinking dad was always right and I was always wrong because of his attitude and belittlement. Anything that changes my childhood views scares me so I criticize them. Confusing? I know. Sorry I have rambled here, I’ve lost track of where I was going with this. But I think it’s all intertwined here, missing puzzle pieces are finding their spot.
I am working towards improving my self-esteem. I can honestly say I don’t care what many people think of me. But I do care what my parents think of me. Seeking their approval after everything I’ve done proves difficult. I have come to realize that I need to approve myself first; I need to believe in myself. I need to stop failing myself. I have to love and accept who I am.