The Begining of Building Self-Esteem
The following are suggestions of words to add to your vocabulary and identify in your life to build feelings, which are the link to the spiritual or inner self, and consequently often effect your self esteem. This example list provides an idea of how many feelings are inside of people.
To identify the true feelings you have, make a list of five feelings that are hard for you to show and a list of five feelings that are easy for you to show.
A lifetime of not being listened to or respected as an individual takes time to develop the hidden self that is still in you. Be patient in your recovery and make sure to recognize progress along the way.
Starting Points for Building Self Esteem
Changing Negative Messages From the Past
Many addiction recovery programs and workshops for building self esteem refer to the inner child and it’s important role in the recovery process. There are two colorfully written books by Claudia Black, It Will Never Happen to Me: Growing up with Addiction as Youngsters, Adolescents, Adults (or other dysfunctional families) and, It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood: Inspirations for Adult Children. Another short and sensitive book to bring out what you may have missed is called, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. Reading children’s books can open the child or the innocence within you that was robbed by your family. The Velveteen Rabbit, is about becoming ‘real’ and that is what you are attempting to do.
Learning to change the messages in your mind is a key to the recovery process. Some things you may have heard as a child and ideas for how to deal with or overcome them follow:
- “Shame on you.” – Remember shame is being told you are unworthy as a person not that you have made a mistake. Shame says you are a mistake. Change this to “I have a basic right to life (as a child of God).”
- “Big kids don’t cry.” – Allow yourself to know crying helps you keep in touch with what you really feel and is a sign of emotion and so it becomes, “I am an emotionally in-touch person.”
- “Would you grow up.” – Takes away from age appropriate development. Understand, “There is no rush in life and I learn and live at my own pace.”
- “You’re so selfish.” – Becomes, “Everyone has a right to privacy and to defend their things without always having to share.”
- “You make me sick!” – Can be changed to, “I don’t have the ability or power to make any one sick. It is a disease and unless I am ill, I don’t cause it.” See the ultimate goal was conformation to someone else. This again robs feeling.
- Children are beaten to get them to act in an ‘appropriate’ way and they may grow up believing they deserved it. Tell yourself it was abusive and nobody deserves it. Healthy ways to correct a child are distract them from negative attention or take a time out. Physical punishment is never okay.
Following the examples, make a list of at least ten messages from your life and change them into the truth about a healthy person.