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Your negative beliefs about yourself are an understandable experiences.Low self-esteem is not something you were born with, it is something you have learned . And what has been learned can be unlearned , and new things learned to take their place ‘

For low self-esteem to develop three things learned to take their place.

1- You have life experiences that communicate negative messages to you about yourself.

2- You believe these messages -otherwise they would not affect you . This is how you get your Bottom Line.

3- You compensate for feeling bad about yourself by setting yourself extra-high standards (for example , perfectionism or believing you always have to be in control) . These ‘ Rules for Living ‘ lead you to expect more of yourself than is possible for any normal , imperfect human beings.

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Let’s look at each of these in turn. As you read through , think back over your own life and see if anythings rings bells for you. It might be helpful to keep a record of your thoughts , so write them down in a notebook . It may also be helpfall to talk to your supporter about this, espicially if looking at the past is difficult or upsetting for you.

1- Life experiences :

Painful experiences that lead to low self-esteem often happen during childhood , but not always , as you will see . Here are some possibilities . As you go through the list , consider which apply to you? Even if these particular experiences are not personally relevant , does scanning them bring events to mind that were important in forming your Bottom Line?

The early years

** Loss of someone important to you (for example, through bereavement , separation, divorce)

**Being ignored mistreated , neglected or abused.

**Failing to meet your parents ‘ standards , or being unfavourably compared to others.

**Lacking what you needed in order to develop a secure sense of self-worth (praise ; interest, reasurance ; and comfort’encouragement to express yourself ; being taught that making mistakes is a normal part of learning ; feeling able to ask for help and support intimacy , warmth, love and affection)

**Being a part of a family struggling with adversity(such as financial hardship illness , being a target for prejudice or hostility)

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School years

** Being teased or bullied or excluded

**Being the odd one out

**Struggling to manage lessons, tests and homework

Transition to adulthood

**Difficulties leaving home and learning how to manage independently set goals, manage your time and motivate yourself.

**Difficulties making new relationship and transforming old ones.

**Difficulties establishing a secure sexual identity.

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Later life

*Experiencing traumatic events.

*Experincing less dramatic , more gradual life changes which impact on things that have been central to feeling good about yourself, such as ; loss of work ( even through planned retirement) ; loss of financial security ;loss of health , fitness or good looks.

*Workplace bullying

*Becoming trapped in an abusive relationship.

*Being subject to enduring hardship or stress.

Such experiences are painful and distressing in themselves. However, as far as low sel-esteem is concerned, the key thing is that you concluded they must in some way be your fault, a sign of something fundmentally wrong with you. This is the origin of your Bottom Line.

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The Bottom Line

If our experiences are generally positive and we are valued and well treated, we probabply feel reasonably okay about ourselves. If not, this can give rise to lasting negative beliefs – the Bottom Lines that sum up how we feel about ourselves and lie at the heart of low self-esteem.

The bottom Lines reflects your attempt to make sene of what happened to you, perhaps early in life. It was your guest guess but, if you were very young, you probably lacked enough knowledge or experience to see the bigger picture , view things from different angles , amnd judge cause and effect. Small children cannot easily recognise that others are responsible for their own bad behaviour, that the unkind things others say may reveal more about them than about us , and that what is happening now will not necessarily continue for ever . So children often reach conclusions that are neither fair nor useful to themselves . Yet the Bottom Line once in place , continues to influence how we think and feel and what we do , day by day. Over time, it may become an unthinking habit of mind which feels like a simple fact, rather than something learned in the increasingly distant past.

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Rules for living

Negative experiences lead to negative beliefs-the Bottom Line. Your Bottom Line seems true to you, yet you still need to negotiate your way through life, to make and keep relationships, to feel more or less Okay about yourself . This is where ‘Rules for living’ come in. These standards (also learned) sum up what you expect yourself , how you belive you must act. So long as you follow the Rules, all is well. But if you fall short, up comes your negative Bottom Line. So , Rules prevent you from accepting yourself as you are and keep you constantly striving to be the person you think you should be.

The problems with Rules is that they ‘wallpaper over’ the Bottom Line. They help you to live with it, but leave it untouched , ready for activation when the circumstances are right. In some ways they are genuinely helpful, but they are also rigid and extreme , expressed in terms of’I must /I should/I cought’, not’ I’d prefer to’ , ‘I’d like to’ or ‘It would be a good idea too’,

The language of Rules is the language of absolute -‘never, always, everyoner, no one, all, nothing’. They make demands no ordinary human being could hope to meet , and take no account of variations in circumstances . So breaking the Rules is inevitable -but when it happens , it feels as if your Bottom Line must be true after all.


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