Building Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
Online Therapy to Build Self-Esteem
Struggling with Low Self-esteem and a lack of confidence?
Do You Hate your Self-Image and Feel Inadequate?
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The Power of Mindfulness Therapy for Building Self-Confidence
Self-esteem is based on core beliefs about our self-worth. These beliefs depend on core emotions. Resolve these core emotions and the beliefs change automatically. This is the primary focus of Mindfulness Therapy.
Self-esteem describes that general feeling about our self-worth. This is based on a collection of self-beliefs: what we think about our self and how we think others see us. These beliefs become established early on during childhood, and most self-esteem issues result from having a poor relationship with our parents. An over-controlling father or mother who is hyper-critical and emotionally abusive can leave deep scars on the fragile self-image of the developing child. Many patterns of emotional abuse are passed on from generation to generation and will continue indefinitely until someone has the courage to awaken to these patterns of habitual conditioned reactivity and change them.
Mindfulness Therapy is totally focused on helping you break free from such patterns of negative emotional reactivity by working very specifically on the emotional wounds that we carry inside. This involves facing our emotions and then cultivating a friendly, caring relationship toward that “hurt child” that we carry inside that is crying out for love and attention. This is where the healing needs to happen. When you have learned how to be the caring parent toward your inner child, then you will be able to let go of the negative self beliefs and patterns of reactivity. Only then will you be able to develop a healthy self-image, based on love and compassion, and only through developing this inner love can you learn how to express that love externally in your personal relationships.
I recently worked with a lady who found it impossible to be around her father without becoming very angry. She threatened to cut off all contact with him.
Looking a little deeper in our first session of Online Therapy, it was clear that her father had a habit of being very controlling and manipulative with her and with her mother as well. It seemed that he was unable to appreciate her or show any normal level of love toward her. Everything was negative and a put-down or criticism. Needless to say, this lady had absorbed his negativity over the course of her life and it left her with a very fragile self-image.
Now, as a therapist, we could spend many sessions trying to massage her fragile ego and attempt to change her beliefs about herself, but in my experience, what is much more essential is to go directly to the core emotions themselves and work on healing and resolving them – changing from the inside out, in effect. When people change their suffering at the core like this the self-beliefs and negative habitual thinking tends to resolve and diminish giving way to more positive and functional beliefs. But, if you don’t heal these core emotions, then no amount of persuasion and reasoning will change your self-beliefs.
So, over the following few online therapy sessions via Skype, I had her build a relationship with the actual core emotions of inadequacy and unworthiness. At first it was hard and she would readily collapse into the emotions and become overwhelmed, leading to outbursts of anger and resentment. But, with practice she was able to establish that all-important Mindfulness-based Relationship, the MBR, with the emotion without becoming reactive and without becoming identified with the emotion. She was now able to “sit” with the emotion and take a look at it. What is this thing?
When she started to experiment with imagery that resonated with the felt sense of the emotion, she immediately imagined a scene, sitting at a table with her father, while he was criticizing her in his usual nasty way. Rather than get into the content of what he was saying, I had her explore the structural properties of the imagery itself. When she looked in this way, as an observer, she was surprised at how small she was relative to her father, who seemed to tower over her in this picture.
Now we have something interesting to work with. At this stage of Mindfulness Therapy, with the benefit of having a non-reactive relationship with her emotion, she can start to take an active role in changing the properties of this inner imagery. I had her imagine making herself very much bigger than her father so that she was towering over him – the opposite of the previous scene. This produced a remarkable and powerful shift in the emotions associated with her self-esteem. Suddenly, she got that solid experience at the core level that she did not have to take on the “poor little me” victim role. He could still say the same negative and acidic words, but she did not need to take them in and feel upset. She developed this new felt sense further and could see the nasty words fall off her, rather than sticking to her. Now she was starting to get her sense of self, back again: her emotional immune system was starting to kick in, neutralizing the infectious words that he hurdled at her. They just didn’t stick any more.
Interestingly, as she continued to watch this process, she noticed how her father began to get weaker and weaker, losing his power. He started to falter in his words and eventually he could find no more words to hurl at her. Looking into his eyes, she saw tears welling up. She saw, in place of the ogre of her previous father, a frightened little boy, desperate and shivering. From her newfound position of power she was overwhelmed, not with emotion, but with compassion for him. She imagined embracing him and holding him in her arms, allowing him to cry, and cry, and cry until he finally went to sleep.
This single online counseling session of mindfulness therapy completely transformed the emotional base of her relationship with her father, and most importantly, her relationship with herself. This is the power of experiential imagery that becomes possible when we cultivate a Mindfulness-based Relationship with our emotions. They will all resolve given that we sit with them with an openness of mind and heart and allow that innate compassion to arise to heal suffering, where suffering exists.
The take-home message is that if we really want to build our self-esteem back up after years of emotional abuse, we must find the emotional suffering within and cultivate a caring and compassionate relationship with it. We must learn to sit with our emotions, not run away from them or try to get rid of them. The act of arguing with our self-beliefs is also just not enough; it is just another way of not listening and not creating that caring relationship that is so needed.
Online Mindfulness Therapy for Building Self-esteem and Self-confidence
How to improve self esteem in relationships – Online Mindfulness Therapy
So I’m often asked how to improve self-esteem in relationships. This is a very interesting area really to examine what it is that actually causes low self-esteem for most people. Low self-esteem is produced by habitual reactive thinking reactive thoughts that basically feeds the emotion of low self-esteem not feeling adequate, feeling helpless, feeling very small in relationship to other people, to the challenges of life in general. In relationships it’s feeling that that you’re not able to stand up for yourself and your needs in that relationship. That you’re not worthy of that relationship, and so on. All of these kinds of reactive thinking is what really fuels low self-esteem.
So the first job is to literally take a piece of paper and write down all of those habitual reactive thoughts that are associated with low self-esteem. Just make a big list of them. Now the second part of the process of building self-esteem uses mindfulness therapy which is what I specialize in and that I offer online through Skype therapy sessions. If you’re interested in scheduling Skype therapy sessions with me then please go to my website and email me and we can schedule a session.
But the principle here of mindfulness therapy is quite different than conventional talking therapy. So, in mindfulness therapy we do not try to negate those thoughts, those reactive thoughts that create the self esteem. You do not try to fight them. We do not even try to replace them with positive thoughts. Generally that approach is not going to be effective, simply because those self-critical thoughts that are affecting your self-esteem and your confidence have an emotional charge, and you can’t just replace them with other thoughts that don’t have an equally strong emotional charge. So we don’t try to get rid of them at all. What we try to do is change our relationship to them. This is the central theme of mindfulness therapy.
The real problem is actually not the thoughts, it’s just the fact that we become identified with that we’ve basically become those thoughts. We blindly allow those thoughts to overwhelm us and to control us. In mindfulness training and mindfulness meditation, particularly, we actually learn to change our relationship to those thoughts so that we stay as the Observer observing thoughts, rather than becoming lost in the thoughts.
When you develop this conscious relationship that essentially frees you from the influence of those thoughts, and the more that you focus mindfulness on those thoughts the freer you become. So, what I teach is to meditate on those thoughts that you have assembled in your list. You take each thought and you hold it in the mind consciously and even with friendliness, as well. That’s very important because that also frees you from the influence of the thoughts. The more friendly you can be to the thought, the freer you become and the greater self-esteem you will develop, because self-esteem really develops quite naturally when we break free from those thoughts.
So we learn to meditate on all of the thoughts that fuel that self-esteem and the emotion of low self-esteem, itself, that feeling of helplessness and vulnerability or hurt that lies beneath the thoughts, we learn to form a friendly and conscious relationship with that emotion also, because it very much needs your caring quality of mind. It needs that. It’s like a child. It needs the love of its parent in order to grow up healthy. And it’s exactly the same with the underlying emotions that fuel those reactive thoughts that feed the low self-esteem. That underlying emotion desperately needs your love, and that’s a very important part of the training of mindfulness meditation on low self-esteem.
So if you would like to learn more about the mindfulness approach to building self-esteem and also self-confidence in relationships, then please go to my website and email me to schedule a therapy session via Skype to help you in this process. Thank you.
The secret to developing Self-Confidence: Change the inner image of your self in relation to others
I had a very interesting Skype session with a client in New York today who wanted help in building his confidence. He is a very successful professional, but simply falls apart when he has to talk in front of his peers at professional meetings and seminars.
As in all these cases, my approach is to get the client to look inside to investigate the structure of how he represents himself in his mind’s eye. This approach is amazingly effective for working with all forms of emotional distress and is particularly effective with issues around self-confidence and self-esteem.
Talking about your emotions, as in standard mental health counseling is never as effective as actually looking directly at your emotions and seeing what is there. This is a much more direct approach, and an essential feature of Mindfulness Therapy as I understand it. Mindfulness, fundamentally, is about looking and seeing, rather than looking and analyzing or looking and interpreting what you see.
When this client looked at his emotion of feeling very insecure in front of people, what he saw was a very small image of himself next to very large images of those people in the audience, rather like the picture above. Now is it at all surprising that he would feel afraid with this kind of imagery operating internally? All emotions have a structure like this, an inner picture that conveys the emotion and forms the structure that holds the emotion together. Most of the time we are quite unaware of this internal imagery, but when we focus mindful awareness on the emotion, the image structure begins to become conscious. This is a very important because it gives us something very tangible to work with. If we work on changing this internal imagery, we find that we can change the emotion, and in quite profound ways.
I guided my client to sit with his emotion and explore this imagery and then to experiment in how to make the internal representation of himself very much bigger in relation to the audience. He tried making a number of changes, and what he discovered is that increasing his height was particularly effective. When he did this, the fear subsided almost completely and he felt much more stable, confident and resourceful.
In this online Skype session he literally rebuilt his inner picture of himself. We practiced some rehearsals using this new imagery in preparation for the upcoming presentation that he had to make the following week and he certainly felt much more confident after practicing this for a few days at home.
The presentation day came and he was able to carry this new image of himself into the room and the presentation went perfectly well. It only took the one session to completely change his inner perception of himself. Now he was on a new path and his confidence and self-esteem continued to grow quite naturally. This is quite natural for people who really choose to look at their emotions. I should say that he had been to a “talk therapist” for over two years yet had made little progress. After a little questioning on this, it became quite clear why he had not made much progress before – during all those previous sessions, his therapist had never once asked him to simply look at his inner emotions and see what was there. Lot’s of time was spent investigating his childhood memories, but that is simply not as relevant as actually looking and seeing what is present NOW!
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Dr. Peter Strong is a professional online therapist and specializes in Mindfulness Therapy.
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