Written By: Cristina Behrens-Soulavy, RMHC-I
Self-esteem has seemingly become a household word, far easier perhaps to say than to actually feel. Parents, teachers, and therapists use it almost as a universal explanation for all behaviors and emotions. But what exactly is this ubiquitous yet little understood term, and why is it so important in our day-to-day lives?
Self-Esteem is a psychological term that reflects the value a person places on themselves or on some level of their identity like their intelligence, athleticism, relationship skills or their vocational accomplishments. It is associated with their individual sense of self-worth. It can also be reflected in the person’s ability to think positively about themselves and stay connected to those optimistic beliefs even through challenging situations.
As a therapist, I rely on the use of imagery with my clients during their session. I believe that self-esteem is an ever-present flame from where each of us can draw our individual strength, heat and light. I often ask my clients to picture their self-esteem as an inner flame burning in the center of their body. A flame that allows their inner light to shine brightly. When this flame is high you feel a sense of warmth, a sense of worthiness and you feel empowered. You are confident, your relationships feel rewarding and you also attain a level of satisfaction within your life and your individual accomplishments. On the contrary, when this flame is low, you can easily feel limited, emotionless and powerless and, perhaps, diminished. This can cause a need to reevaluate your life, but it will be from an inner state of negativity. This glumness will bring about pessimistic outlooks and hopelessness. Unfortunately, this can lead to a state of isolation that can open doors to potential, emotional problems. Anxiety, depression, self-harm, substance abuse and eating disorders are just some of the few states of negativity that doors can be opened to.
In therapy we can safely explore your inner flame and stimulate it so that it burns brightly and warmly. We will work together to explore and identify the source(s) that causes your flame to flicker and decrease. We will work on recognizing the occasions that decrease that flame and allow your feelings of negativity to envelop you like a cold winter storm. In session, we will work as a team and come up with strategies and/or coping mechanisms that will help restore your inner flame and fend off the winds of self-doubt.
With time, effort and consistency you will begin to feel better about yourself and you will see an improvement in your social relations. This will, in turn, allow you to experience higher levels of self-esteem and decrease the periods of time where you feel depressed or anxious.
It would be my honor to work with you. Together, we will add fuel to your inner flame and allow it to shine brightly!