Self-Esteem, Self-Aggression Counseling

Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it has not worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

— Louise L. Hay

Shame, worthlessness, inadequacy, and comparison are forms of self-aggression that can become integrally tied to our sense of self. With the pressures we experience in life, we may adopt tendencies to beat ourselves up, never feeling satisfied.

Sometimes that turns into a self-esteem roller coaster: On the down side, we berate ourselves for not meeting some self-imposed high standards, and then on the up side, we feel better when we do. With this kind of up and down, we set high expectations for ourselves on both ends, and then are seized by unhelpful intrusive thoughts, stuck feeling bad about ourselves, or unfavorably comparing ourselves to others.

In our Western culture, self-esteem can be based on either how we stand out from the crowd or how we conform and ignore our unique, brilliant selves. Our self-worth becomes a measure of how much we value ourselves in comparison to others, which is always fluctuating. Being “average” or “enough” is not enough.

Added to that, our views and attitudes toward self are influenced by the messages we pick up from our communities, culture, and families; families that sometimes lack the skill and care to nurture us through.

Over time, low self-esteem and self-aggression can lead to depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation.

There Is Another Way

In contrast to building self-esteem that rises and falls, we can build self-compassion. Self-compassion is not performance-based or self-evaluative. It is offering the same kindness and warmth to ourselves when we are struggling, fail, or recognize something in ourselves we don’t like. It is something we all deserve as human beings, and we do for our friends. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do this for ourselves.

Self-compassion recognizes that the human condition is imperfect and it is the thing that connects humankind rather than separates us. Self-compassion provides space for being mindful and kind, as opposed to self-critical, to the parts of ourselves that are suffering. Self-compassion offers a kind of steadiness, reliability, and warmth in times of challenge.

Our sessions offer a space to be warm and curious about the unhelpful ways you may talk about yourself, to yourself, or view yourself. Together, we can bring self-compassion into your life and see how it impacts your moment-to-moment experiences.