Self-Esteem

It’s strange for me to hear someone say something complimentary about me. I can deal with the smaller compliments like, “you have great eyes” or “you have a pretty smile” but the compliment “you are gorgeous”, just throws me for a loop and it’s something I have to work on. When I think of myself in good terms, I think about what I can do rather than how I look. But this also has to do with my self-esteem.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have low self-esteem. Years of negative life experiences and failed expectations have led me to this point. I ‘know’ that I’m a good person but I ‘know’ is extremely different from I ‘believe’.

Low self-esteem occurs when we think negatively about ourselves and situations. This comes about because we feel the need to place value on everything and everyone. However, we set the value of our self-worth extremely low. Negative self thoughts equal negative or low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is also circular; actual or perceived criticism or negative judgments lead to repeated self-critical thoughts or cognitive distortions which leads to low self-esteem. This circle will continue until there is a change.

To exit the cycle of low self-esteem, you have to begin thinking and doing things differently. Changes have to be made. For thinking differently, examples include ‘fact versus opinion’ or ‘being more realistic’. For doing things differently, examples include ‘acknowledging your strengths, setting limits when helping others and acting who you want to be’. “Visualize yourself competently and confidently doing and enjoying the things you would like to enjoy doing and successfully doing what you need to do”.

Using positive statements or self affirmations can also help you develop a new attitude toward yourself. You must use the affirmation immediately after having the negative thought, even if you don’t believe the affirmation. After continued use of this new habit, the negative thought will be replaced by the affirmation. Positive affirmations are most often “I am…” statements.

In addition, you should use a coping thought/positive statement for each difficult or distressing situation. Make sure to write them out ahead of time so that you have them handy for when the situations occur. Examples of these include: ‘My mind is not always my friend’ and ‘Thoughts are just thoughts – they’re not necessarily true or factual’. Please view the worksheet attached at the end of this post for more examples.

Having a higher self-esteem will give you a higher self worth so you don’t have to depend on others for these emotions or feelings. A higher self-esteem will allow to feel motivation, encouragement and empowerment to reach your goals and dreams.

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  1. Positive Affirmations
  2. Self-Esteem
  3. Low Self-Esteem
  4. Positive Statements Worksheet
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Preferences Not Expectations

“You cannot live with expectations because life has no obligation to fulfill your desires. You can live with an open heart, but you cannot live with expectations.” ~Osho

Preferences not expectations. This has been my mantra lately. I need to learn to have preferences over having expectations. My expectations are only letting me down. In the end, they aren’t helping me, they are only hurting.

Expectations are defined as the act or state of looking forward or anticipating or to regard as likely to happen. It’s good to have high expectations regarding certain events or people, but having consistently high expectations can leave you upset and saddened when they are unfulfilled. Rather, I have been told that it is better to have preferences because they aren’t as set in stone as expectations.

Preferences are defined as a greater liking for one alternative over another or others. Having preferences means that you are less likely to be disappointed when things don’t go the way you plan because you have no expectations for it to follow your plans. It is also good to have a solid grasp on reality. If reality is lower than we expect our lives to be, we tend to be discontent and unhappy.

I guess you could say I have high expectations for my life that have gone unfulfilled, which has led to the unhappiness I feel today. I need to let go of these expectations or at least make them more realistic so that I’m not so disappointed when my life doesn’t go as I planned. I am trying to learn that having preferences is better than having expectations because I won’t regard preferences as likely to happen as expectations. It’s one of the many changes I need to make to bring more happiness into my life.

By having preferences, I will be more in touch with reality and hopefully not as disappointed that my life has not gone as planned. I need to learn to live in the moment, being in touch with reality rather than living in the past or worrying about the future. I can’t change the past and the future will be what I make of it, and if I live in the present, I will be a better person for my future.

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Reality Expectations

Personality

Please view the post, ‘Personality’ for a definition and discussion on development of a personality. This also includes a brief outline of the clusters that personality disorders are grouped into. Personality disorders are also used as classifiers with depression.

There are many types of personality disorders and to simplify things, they are grouped into three clusters: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A disorders are characterized by odd and eccentric behavior or thinking. These disorders include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

  • Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of trust and suspicion of others, unjustified belief that others are ‘out to get you’, hesitancy to confide in others, angry or hostile reactions and a tendency to hold grudges. The essential feature for paranoid disorder is interpreting the actions of others as threatening or demeaning. This type of person may appear jealous, secretive and emotionally ‘cold’.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of interest in social or personal relationships, a preference to be alone, a limited range of emotional expression, inability to have pleasure in activities, and inability to pick up on normal social cues. The essential feature for schizoid disorder is appearing introverted, withdrawn, and distant. This type of person is often absorbed in their own thoughts and fears closeness with others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs or behaviors, odd perceptual experiences, flat emotions, “magical thinking”, and the belief that casual incidents or events have hidden messages. The essential feature for schizotypal disorder is a pattern of peculiarities. This type of person has difficulty forming relationships and may act inappropriately during social interactions.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior. These disorders include borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.

  • Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsive and risky behaviors, unstable self-image and self-esteem, up and down moods, intense fear of abandonment, ongoing feelings of emptiness and intense displays of anger. The essential feature for borderline disorder is abrupt and extreme mood changes and self-destructive actions. This type of person is impulsive, self-destructive, socially dependent and have a difficulty with their sense of identity. This disorder is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.
  • Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a disregard for other’s needs or feelings, persistent lying and stealing, recurring problems with the law, aggressive behavior and lack of remorse for behavior. The essential feature for antisocial disorder involves ignoring social norms while acting out their conflicts, no respect for others and no remorse for their actions. They are at a higher risk for substance abuse because of their behaviors.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by fantasies of power, success and attractiveness, failure to recognize other’s needs and feelings, exaggeration of achievements or talents, arrogance, and expectation of constant praise and admiration. The essential feature for narcissistic disorder involves having an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a constant need for attention. This type of person is over sensitive to failure and prove to extreme mood swings between self-admiration and insecurity.

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Cluster C disorders are characterized by anxious, and fearful behavior or thinking. These disorders include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

  • Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by sensitivity to criticism or rejection, feelings of inadequacy, inferiority or unattractiveness, avoidance of interpersonal contact, social inhibition and fear of disapproval, embarrassment or ridicule. The essential feature for avoidant disorder is excessive social discomfort. This type of person usually has no close relationships, although they would like to and are upset at their inability to relate well to others.
  • Dependent personality disorder is characterized by excessive dependence on others and the need to be taken care of, submissive or clingy behavior, fear of fending for yourself, lack of self-confidence, difficulty disagreeing with others and tolerance of poor or abusive treatment. The essential feature is a pattern of submissive and dependent behavior, rely on others to make decisions. This type of person is usually uncomfortable and helpless if they are alone and can be devastated if a relationship ends.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by a preoccupation with details, orderliness and rules, extreme perfectionism, a desire to be in control, excessive commitment to work and an inability to discard broken or worthless objects.The essential feature for  obsessive-compulsive disorder is a striving for perfection and rare satisfaction with their achievements. This type of person is reliable, dependable and methodical, but inflexible to change. They are highly cautious and pay specific attention to detail.

This is just a brief summary of a few of the more typical personality disorders. Although you may identify with the traits of various disorders, a doctor would need to decide whether or not you should be diagnosed with it. Every person can identify with various aspects of personality disorders because no one person’s personality is perfect. We’re all different and that’s ok.

  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. Mental Health America
  3. American Psychological Association
  4. US National Library of Medicine
  5. Psychology Today

Personality

Personality is a very fluid idea. Often times, our actions or reactions are blamed on our personality. “That’s just how they are.” But personality is actually developed through the situations and environments we experience during adolescence. Our personality is affected by our temperament and our character. The APA defines personality as, “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”. Personality can also be defined as a set of traits or characteristics that uniquely influence a person’s behaviors and thoughts is various situations.

Personality evolves over time. It does not remain stagnant. Our behaviors and traits are influenced by our life experiences and relationships. Personality traits are also reinforced by our experiences. In many ways an unhealthy personality trait can be reaffirmed when a life event doesn’t go as planned. However, in this way you may also be committing a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unintentionally and/or unconsciously fulfills a preconceived notion or idea, whether it be positive or negative. The only experience I have ever had with self-fulfilling prophecies have been negative.

There are also illnesses regarding personality. These of course, would be considered personality disorders. A person can have certain individual traits of a disorder without having the disorder. A personality disorder is defined as “a pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are consistently exhibited over a long period of time and create emotional and mental distress”. Personality disorders exist on a continuum from mild to severe, but left untreated it can reduce a person’s quality of life. Personality disorders can also be considered ‘fatal flaws’.

Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters based on their similarities and symptoms. Cluster A disorders are considered odd or eccentric behavior. This would include schizoid or paranoid personalities. Cluster B disorders are dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. This would include narcissistic or histrionic personalities. Cluster C disorders are considered anxious and fearful behavior. This would include avoidant, dependent or OCD personalities.

In the next post I will be discussing the various personality disorders within their clusters, their traits and how they are diagnosed. Please remember that even if you display some of these traits, that does not mean that you have a personality disorder. No one is perfect.

  1. American Psychological Association
  2. Mind for Better Mental Health

The Ups and Downs of One Day

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I decided to go hiking. I knew of a pretty spot near a popular local tourist location that was just enough off track to be good for a quiet hike and picnic. We started out early, with our picnic, blankets and drinks, excited to spend the day together and in relative peace and quiet.

We parked and hiked down to the first waterfall. The trail followed the river and was gorgeous, but you were guaranteed to get slightly wet. We rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and started right in. We were having a blast. There was no one there, it was a wonderful day and we were excited to explore the area.

Things continued on nicely until we got to a fork. The path wasn’t very well marked but we could see another couple across the river so we thought that was the way to go. Unfortunately the only way to cross was a couple of tree branches that were clogging the riverbend. I decided to forge ahead. I was doing really well until 3/4 of the way across when I lost my balance and fell in, butt first. I felt like I struggled to for minutes to get out but my BF said it was probably only 30 seconds.

When my BF walked across and joined me, we decided to take a break for a few minutes. I was soaking wet from the butt down and was feeling rather shaky. As soon as we pulled out a blanket, I sat down and pulled out my phone. I immediately felt like crying. It worked, but the screen had been shattered. My BF sat down next to me and we just sat and talked for awhile. For me, this had definitely put a damper on my nice day. Now, I was worried about money and paying for at least a screen repair if not a completely new phone.

The rest of the day spent hiking went very well. And when we got home I showered and started a load of laundry. Then we started on our errands which now included a phone repair. After stopping at the local store, they said I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade but to check out a kiosk at the local mall for screen repair. After talking to the guy at the screen repair kiosk, I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving my phone with him or even having him find me a new phone, all of which would cost more than I spent to buy the phone in the first place.

My BF, being the resourceful guy that he is, looked up the price of my old phone at a local Target. Needing to run other errands as well, we headed to Target where we ran into the local business representative for my phone company. Talking to her for even a couple of minutes, she gave us advice to go to walmart where my old phone would cost $40 or the upgrade would be $70. She also gave me advice for the auto-pay setup and perks.

I ended up spending the extra $30 for the upgrade which was still cheaper than when I originally bought my old phone. We ended the day with a visit to my parent’s house and a fabulous spaghetti dinner.

In this one day, I experienced an emotional rollercoaster. My emotions and moods ranged from up to down so quickly it was almost difficult to follow and I’m sure it was difficult for my BF to watch. He handled it like a pro though, and was extremely supportive of me and the entire day. I’m extremely glad that I had him with me. All in all, I’m determined to look at it as a good day because I got a new phone, and I got to spend quality time with my BF. Also, I’ve decided that the next time I go hiking, I’m going to leave my phone in the car.

As Planned

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 2

Week 2, Day 1:
I’ve been feeling better for the last couple of days. I need to write more on those days so that everyone understands that depression is up and down. I want to share more of my up days because not everything is down.
I’m scheduled to talk at 2 churches so far this coming month. (May is mental health awareness month.) It’s a little nerve racking, but I’m hoping to speak to another pastor at a local church about speaking to his congregation as well. And I’ve already spoken to a pastor at a larger church and she has all kinds of ideas of where I could speak. She saw me once before when the depression first began and she says she sees a huge improvement.
I’m nervous about my next therapist appointment. I don’t know if it’s going to work out, but I’m thinking I’m doing well enough that I would need to see someone once a week. It’s possible that during winter two times a week would be better because the winter is so hard on me.

Day 2:
The therapist session went really well. I think she’s really going to be able to help me with my issues and help me get to a point when I don’t have to see a therapist weekly. I really felt like there was a connection and that she’s going to be very beneficial for me. She’s going to be the assistant to my mechanic while working on my mind.
I’m really starting to look forward to the future, something I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m still going to have my struggles but for today, things are looking up!!

Day 3:
Today was filled with ups and downs. I went hiking with my BF. Please click here to read about my day.

Day 7:
I’ve been feeling uninspired with my writing lately. It’s not flowing like it used to and I’m frustrated with it. Maybe part of the problem is that I’m writing mostly scientific and informational posts. Posts that are meant to educate but if I’m feeling uninspired writing them, who is going to want to read them?
I think I’m also feeling frustrated that things aren’t moving faster along. I feel like I’m plodding through each today and it’s a struggle. I want to be happy, but at the moment all I can do is find those bits of happy moments that occur day to day and add them together. Will I ever be fully happy? Am I meant to be happy?

Day 8:
I got taken off of all my meds today. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Of course, we weren’t sure if they were working and I was feeling better while only sporadically taking them so perhaps this is for the best. I don’t like having to rely on drugs anyway.
I had a good session in therapy but we really just talked about my week. I think we’re still trying to get the lay of the land. I know that I do want to work on self-validation, so it’s something I’m going to bring up in my next session.

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Friends

When I was little, I didn’t have very many friends. I usually had the one requisite best friend and that is who I would hang out with. For some reason though, eventually this best friend would move and I would spend time in limbo before finding a new friend. This happened many times from 1st grade all the way through high school.

I was always on the fringe of any groups. Now that I’m older, I feel like I spent my childhood chasing after the other kids on the playground. I would invite girls to my birthday parties and they would attend but I wasn’t always include in outside events. As we got older, it became even more apparent to me that I didn’t belong.

My middle school years, 5th and 6th grade, I felt like even more of an outsider. In 5th grade, I became the teacher’s pet just so I could go back to my classroom instead of going out to recess. The few times I remember going to recess, I recall sitting in front of an old tree stump that was disintegrating and picking at it, watching all of the other kids. I tried joining in a couple of times but I honestly felt like I wasn’t wanted.

By high school the differences were even more pronounced. I wasn’t into fashion and I wasn’t ‘boy-crazy’. I was a musical nerd who enjoyed her classes and joined every extracurricular choral group possible. After I turned 16, I got a job but I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Looking back at pictures of myself from high school, I feel like I’m on the edges; on the outside looking in.

I’ve felt this way my entire life. I’ve often been told it’s because I’m more mature than others my age or that I ‘had an old soul’. But while that is great advice, as a kid, I just wanted to fit in. I just wanted to be part of the group; to feel wanted and involved.

Today, I don’t have many friends, but I cherish the ones I do. They are important to me because I know how much it sucks to not be  invited or to be forgotten or ignored. I want my friends to know that I appreciate that they are willing to be there for me, especially on days when my depression attempts to get the best of me. My friends are my support and for that, I thank them.