*NEWBIE* Uber-Low Self Esteem

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2004
*NEWBIE* Uber-Low Self Esteem
Wed, 05-05-2010 - 10:36pm

Hello All,

First time posting on this board :)

Long story short - I'm almost 30. I have a great job, a masters degree, own my condo, car, and have an incredible wardrobe. I'm in good shape, healthy and have good friends. BUT I feel empty.

My boyfriend of 4 years, who I thought I would marry, dumped me after New Years this year and I've been miserable since then. I figured out I am battling depression caused by what my therapist has called 'low self esteem' caused by childhood neglect from both my parents, especially my Dad. I can rhyme off lists why I think I should feel good about myself, I can have others tell me why I am great but deep down, I don't believe or internalize any of it.

My therapist recommended writing down all of my positives 3 x a day...but it is exhausting and I am getting annoyed and writing stuff like "held the door for someone".

Any tips on where to start building self esteem?

I've always assumed self esteem is tied to perfection (I'm a perfectionist) and perfection is not attainable. How do you become OK with who you are?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2009
Thu, 05-06-2010 - 8:59am

hey, trouble, welcome to the board. you're right, there's no such thing as being perfect.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2004
Thu, 05-06-2010 - 7:10pm

Thanks for your response. I've never thought of doing the column thing...

It is a good idea .. there are some things that I don't like about myself that I can change.. I'm just lazy about them or embarrassed to deal with them.

Will write more and contribute to this board as I start my journey...

Avatar for firstglimpse
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2003
Fri, 05-07-2010 - 2:51pm

"I've always assumed self esteem is tied to perfection..."

Where would you get that idea? Oh wait, I know! The neglectful parents, that is where.

Seeing as my father mentally left when I was 3 years old (physically @ 6) and my narcissistic mother simply didn't know how to display love, I understand how thinking 'if I simply did better I'd be recognized & loved which would raise my esteem.'

Doesn't work that way.
But this thought process started while we were children and it's a hard one to break.

Unfortunately, what perfectionism may really lead to is anxiety/panic disorders. Which then can bring on a low esteem & possibly depression.

What is working for me (I still have a lot of work ahead of me) is learning about meditation, yoga and "The Noble Eightfold Path" (which comes from Buddhism). With Buddhism this path can lead to enlightenment, which I find bit extreme, but to try to apply this in my daily life helps me enjoy life today.

With perfectionism we tend to use the past too much as a teaching tool & the focus too much on the future. The problem is the past cannot be changed & the future cannot be secured (no matter how hard you try). Life happens in the present & only in the present.

Now, you may be like me & may need all your efforts for the ideal life to be blown up in your face in the matter of a single night - which is fine, we all need our learning experiences. But if a part of you could just sort of let go a little bit & learn to live life today you may find some relief to your grief.

Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion, therefore I believe it can be attached to any religion (or lack of).

So here is my EXTREME quick run down of what I had found one day, which lead me on my quest to learn more & to tailor it to my life. I know I still have a lot to work toward, but I realize life is a journey and as long as I continue to grow I am living well.

The Four Noble Truths:

1. Life means suffering. Human nature is not perfect & neither is the world.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment. Such as having a preconceived idea of what happiness is. Expectations. Not willing to bend & flow.

3. Cessation of suffering is attainable. By ridding oneself of attachment. (This is where it gets a little extreme as I cannot fathom losing all attachments.)

4. The path to the cessation of suffering .... leads to the eightfold path.


Eightfold path
* These are not sequential directions, you move in & out of these at different times of your life.

1. Right view: see and understand things as they really are.

2. Right intention: commitment to ethical & mental self-improvement.

3. Right speech: This one is hard, but do not speak with a negative tongue, especially where others are involved.

4. Right action: abstain from hurting others and self. This means all aspects of life. Eat well, exercise, etc.

5. Right livelihood: To choose an occupation that does not harm people or the environment. Such as dealing with weapons, selling intoxicants, etc.

6. Right effort: This one is confusing to me, but I think basically if, for example, you volunteer your time you do so with an open heart to the community, not with the thought to better yourself.

7. Right mindfulness: See things as they are. I think this refers to not reading into people intentions & making assumptions. That sort of thing.

8. Right concentration: This is where meditation arises. To be able to sit & clear your mind so that the when you come out of a meditative state you're more focused and see things more clearly. I cannot meditate in the stillness, but I find much relief through yoga - which is really a type of meditation.

One place that helps me really understand all of this better is a podcast provided for free by zencast.org. They have tons of speeches on many different topics.

HTH :)

"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng

"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2009
Mon, 05-10-2010 - 8:01am

you're welcome. sorry if the column suggestion was a little corny; it was something i thought of off the top of my head. i guess the point of it was to help you see that most things about you will fall into the middle ("good enough") category; some things will go in the "great" category, and some will go in the "not so great" category. that's the way it is with everyone. we all have our faults, we all have our stellar qualities, but we're all basically in the middle. if something is holding you back that you can change, then by all means try; if you can't