Most people with BPD have very low self-esteem. This is because we have often grown up in toxic environments where we have been told we are stupid or ugly or fat or hopeless all our lives. It is a huge stumbling block for most of us because we were not taught how to value ourselves and celebrate the things which we are good at.
We grow up in homes where there is often not enough nurturing from our parents. Dr. Phil says that the most important parent in a child’s life is the parent of the same sex. I believe this to be true. Be that as it may, if you have a parent (or TWO) who do not encourage you or tell you that you are good at things or even applaud your achievements you will grow up not having any appreciation for the things you are good at. It is very difficult to develop good self-esteem in an environment like this. So, we grow up thinking that we suck at everything we do. These kinds of thoughts translate to our feelings. Remember, every feeling first begins as a thought.
Our level of self-esteem impacts EVERY SINGLE DECISION we make in our lives: from the people we choose as friends when we are in grade school through high school and beyond, to whether or not we pursue post-secondary education, to whether or not we choose to self-medicate with substances like alcohol or drugs. So, if you don’t have good self-esteem as child, it is doubly important that you learn how to develop it as an adult. Studies have shown that having low self-esteem can predispose a person to a mental illness later in life.
When you have low self-esteem you will tend to view the world as a terribly hostile place in which to live and you will also tend to see yourself as a victim. Learning assertiveness is one very good way to boost self-esteem and will help you get out of the mire of depression.
I grew up with almost zero self-esteem. It’s not that my parents didn’t love me, they did. But neither of THEM had any self-esteem. Parents can not teach skills to their children that they themselves have not learned. So, if you don’t know how to make pasta, you can’t possibly teach it to your child, Yes?
How can you build self-esteem?
What did I do to learn self-esteem? Well, I knew that I was a good writer so I concentrated on my writing skills and started writing poetry. Was I any good at it? At the beginning, no. Was I able to persist with it? Yes, because I was doing it for myself and my own enjoyment. I didn’t share it with anyone for a long, long time. When I started sending it out to try to get it published I received rejection slip after rejection slip. Think J.K. Rowling here, guys. But I kept writing. Gradually my writing got better and my appreciation of my craft got better.
Later I decided that I really wanted to try to lose some weight and change my eating habits. Over the 28 years of my marriage I gained about 100 pounds. So, I adopted a little dog and we started walking. First just around the block because that was literally all I could do. But after he stopped doing his business I added another block and then another block until eventually we were walking between 7 and 8 miles per day. Over a two year period I lost more than 50 pounds. Talk about a shot in the arm for my self-esteem.
How do YOU begin to build your self-esteem?
First, sit down and write a list of the things you like to do. It can be gardening, writing, biking, hiking, putting jigsaw puzzles together, cooking, anything. Then figure out a way to learn how to do something new related to that interest and start learning and putting it into practice. This will be a slow process but if you stay with it, you will master it and you will build your self-esteem along the way.
The next list you should make is one that sets out your strengths and the things you have achieved over your lifetime. Include everything you can think of. Print both of these lists off and put them some place where you be sure to see them each morning as you get ready for your day.
Some other tips include:
Spend time attending to your personal hygiene by making sure you shower, brush your teeth and brush your hair each morning.
Making sure that you have clean clothes without any holes or tears in them will also give your self-esteem a boost. Try to wear clothes that are pressed and presentable.
Make an effort to keep your living space as clean, tidy and visually attractive as possible. Your surroundings have a big effect on your mental state. If you are living in a place that is cluttered and dirty, your attitude will reflect it.
Set a challenge for yourself, something you will be able to attain without too much difficulty. When you have achieved it, celebrate it with your cheerleading squad.
Do something you have been procrastinating about such as going outside to weed in your garden or taking a long walk with a friend, spending some time learning a new game or making a new recipe. All these little things will quickly help to boost your self-esteem.
It’s pretty simple and, sort of like practicing gratitude and the ball is in your court.