The further we perceive to be away from the 'ideal image' the greater our disappointment is. The ideal image can be based on a stereotype of how we should look or where we should be in life according to society. Or it can a self-constructed ideal of being 'always perfect' or 'always nice'.
Whenever we do not live up to these expectations we might experience a profound drop in our own value accompanied by feelings of anxiety and often depression. The greater the difference between what we think we are and what we think we ought be, the greater our discomfort becomes.
The concept of self-esteem has two main components: general and specific. General self-esteem reflects our global perception of ourselves and our ability to face the world. It defines how we feel about ourselves as individuals at any given moment. Specific self-esteem on other hand reflects how we evaluate our competency or ability in a specific area or role.
For example, Jane is a successful interior designer who feels really good about where she is in life. However, on the days when she has to do any math calculations associated with work, she experiences low self-esteem as she perceives her math abilities to be very poor. The next day, she quickly recovers from this dip in her self-esteem by focusing on the parts of her life that are going well.
From this example, we can see that while we might have areas of our lives where we lack abilities or competencies we can still maintain a positive self-view.
Our self-esteem can serve as a thermometer of where we are at in our lives. A low self-esteem, or strong drop in temperature, can signal to us that something is not going well for us. Instead of branding or labeling ourselves with 'I have a low self-esteem', we can empower ourselves by interpreting it as time for change. The feelings of unhappiness, discomfort and anxiety become signals of desire for change and motivators for seeking a new equilibrium. Change is always possible, even when we can not change external circumstances (e.g. loss of promotion, failed exam) we can change our perceptions and choose new ways of facing the world.
In a place of confusion and doubt, it is often difficult to see the choices you might have. Counselling presents a safe place to discover what is not working right now in your life, provides space to see your choices more clearly and brings your focus back to your strengths and resources.
By Viktoria Ivanova