How To Feel Better About Yourself
Often a person comes into therapy wanting to improve their self esteem. They feel bad about themselves in comparison to others. I find the concept of self esteem to be outdated and often useless or even detrimental. Most people identify self esteem as how they feel about themselves. This is measured by others expectations of them or society expectations of them, rather then their own unique strengthens and abilities. No one measures up to society expectations of looks, intelligence, ability, or wealth. We are not tall enough, skinny enough, rich enough, good looking enough, and neither are our children. Hence we all feel bad about not measuring up. Our value is based on what others think of us. The result is low self esteem.
I find a much better way to help people feel better about themselves is to talk about the concept of self. Carl Jung defines the self as bringing all aspects of a person together. I encourage a person to go back and think about the stories of what they were like before age 5. Did they always climb on top of the furniture? Don’t be surprised if they love adventure. Were you always creating art projects? Or building with Legos? Could you sit still, or were you into everything? Did you talk up a storm, or love to read? These give you clues into your own unique being.
Often people find it very difficult to identify what is unique, special or positive about who they are. They can quickly list off what wrong with them and how they are bad. But what is good? Wow that is hard. The process of identifying what makes up who you are is so valuable. As you move through this process you begin to value yourself and not rely on others to validate you.
The process of defining yourself
- Identify your character traits and write a list.
- Begin to take these traits and create a collage about you.
- What is missing? What do you want that is not in the list or collage? Write those out.
- Ask if it is a realistic? What might you have to give up develop that trait?
- Do you like what you see? Is this you? Can you begin to accept your ok? Maybe even wonderful?
From Volume 11 of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung Psychology and Religion: West and East Princeton University Press, 1969
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