People who are depressive, anxious and full of shame often feel that life
“hasn`t been fair to them”. This feeling of “unfairness” is kept alive by
them in different ways (f.ex. in form of “being worthless”, “being a Mr.
Nobody”, “not being capable of anything”). They feel as persons who have
to fight for something all the time, who are always confronted with
problems or are suffering from constant deficits, who are neither allowed
to take nor have been given something. That is why depressive people
mostly suffer from a low self-esteem (“inferiority”). In order to back up
their self-esteem they strive for acceptance which relates to their own
performance (“I am what I perform”). As soon as their performance
diminishes they feel in danger. At the same time, depressive people
constantly tend to run themselves and their performance down. They wait
impatiently for positive feedbacks from others and are dependent on their
opinion. If they get that positive feedback they requested, they have no
trust in it because they know that they themselves asked for it. The
following suggestions show ways out of that dilemma.
Accept your self-esteem problem
accept that you have a “self-esteem problem”. Think about what may have
caused it (f.ex. disparage, neglection, desinterest on the part of
important persons in your childhood, bad marks, lacking self-esteem of
parents and other role models, disregard of the family).
Stop the “inner critic”
Consequently practise to say “stop” loudly, whenever the doubts and
depressive thoughts which were described in the beginning, arise in you
(“You silly cow...”, “You are not capable of anything”, “You`d rather”).
Simply order yourself to think about your list of personal skills, your
wealth (which can also be non-materialistic) and successes. For this
purpose write corresponding key words on a piece of paper, hang up these
notes in your home in order to complete them constantly over the next few
to know your positive sides
another piece of paper. Imagine you were a person who likes you
very much and therefore sees only your positive or even lovely
charcteristics. What would that be? Write down all observations and ideas
on your note. The following characteristics of despressive people are very
often greatly valued: A lot of depressive people are perservering and
reliable. They are performance-related and orient towards social ideas.
They seem modest because they rarely make aggressive demands. A lot of
them are very sensitive, warm-hearted and capable of deep feelings. In a
partnership they are affectionate and seek company. They do not act
hastily. Being cautious they think carefully and in detail about a lot of
things. They are very self-critical and put the “blame” on themselves.
They are the classical helpers who do not hesitate to take responsibility
for others and make sacrifices if necessary.
Accept and encourage yourself
your “weak points”, too! Accept yourself as what you are. Nobody is
perfect and responsible for everything. It is the mixture of strenghts and
weaknesses which gives us an individual “”profile” and makes us so unique.
Stand by your weak points also in front of others. Let other people know
about your weak points – this is often considered to be a sign of
strength! Don`t make desperate efforts to hide your nervousness, just dare
to talk openly about it with friends and collegues. Forgive yourself
possible mistakes and make inner peace with yourself and your weaknesses.
Especially in situations where you feel insecure keep saying: “I am o.k.
how I am” and “I can do it”
Stand by yourself and feel “authentic”
express your opinion, even if this might be to your disadvantage. Stand by
those values of which you are thorougly convinced. (which were not only
drummed in your head or dictated to you). Just behave how you feel. Be
authentic instead of playing a role or being a puppet for others. They
should see you as the person you are and not as a good tactician. Be proud
of having “a will on your own” even if people call it “stubborness”. Stay
a recognizable personality, don`t dissolve in the anonymous crowd. Take
“self-confident” people as an example.
Appear clear and self-confident
wait for a good self-esteem feeling in order to appear self-confident
later. Make it the other way round: Practise to appear self-confident and
be amazed how this makes your self-esteem grow. F.ex. use the word “I”
instead of “we”. Refrain from indirect speech. Say precisely what you want
(“I want...”, “I wish...”). Your expression should be powerful, clear and
quick-witted. Save others the trouble of having to guess your opinion and
wishes. Refrain from subservience and justification. Resist the “reflex of
obedience”. Don`t lull yourself in a false sense of security which you can
seemingly obtain if you give up the identity or try to be everybody`s
darling. Look right in the eyes of the other person and smile. Emphasize
your wish with corresponding gestures, posture, facial expression and
volume. Keep checking in front of a mirror if you stand up straight, and,
that is important, not let your head and shoulders hang down. With the
help of a tape recorder practise to speak in a loud, calm, clear and
rather deep (than shrill) voice. People having a low self-esteem are often
not able to do that. In conversations proudly mention what are your strong
points (this is no “show-off” but a sense-making alternative to a “long
face”). When you approach an unknown person go straight-up, be
self-confident and look in her eyes to test if this person makes way for
yourself in the focus of attention
out of your shadow existence. From time to time practise to be resolute
and to draw attention. At the restaurant, f.ex., drop a silverware loudly
on the floor. In shops, fit several clothes without buying them. In
public, shout something to someone who is standing quite a distance away.
Wear clothes which attract attention. While standing in line, ask people
to let you go first. In front of others, practise doing things you are not
yet good at. In the street, whistle and sing loudly to yourself. Practise
to communicate your feelings and thoughts to others.
Keep checking and improving your self-image
it a habit to ask other people for positive feedbacks (observations)
concerning your person. (“What do you like about me?”,” In your opinion,
what am I especially good at?”) Friendly say thank you for compliments and
try not to give any further (mostly disparaging) comments. Free yourself
from the automatism of thinking “What will the others think of me? What
are their expectations?” Care less about the others but more about you.
Don`t take everything personally. Make a difference between your value as
a person and the value of your achievments. Even if someone thinks
something about you (which is more rare than you think!), it is and stays
the mere opinion of another person. Such an opinion absolutely doesn`t
change your personality! You decide if you want to think the same!
Furthermore, if you keep asking yourself what the others are thinking, you
take yourself too seriously, at least on that point. By the way, people
with a low self-esteem are more occupied with themselves than people
without that problem. In spite of this intensive self-occupation, their
perceptive faculty is low or not existent because they have difficulties
in objectively feeling themselves deep inside.