High self-esteem or narcissism?

By David Joel Miller.

Trait or State Narcissism.

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In the field of psychology, there has been a good deal of study of a personality dimension which psychologists call narcissism. The way the term trait narcissism is used is very different from the way mental health describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This difference has caused some problems when people look at the results of personality tests, theirs or other people’s, and see that there is a score for narcissism.

Trait narcissism is meant to be a measure of how good you feel about yourself. For most people, this trait will be relatively stable over time. State narcissism is how much you are thinking about your own needs now and can vary with the situation. Sometimes you should think about your needs first, and other times you need to include others needs in your calculations.

This difference between the way psychology defines narcissism and the way it is described in mental health and recovery literature has created a good deal of confusion.

High trait narcissism is mostly a good thing.

People with low self-esteem, score low on measures of trait narcissism. As your self-confidence and self-esteem rise, your scores on the narcissism inventory rise. People with high trait narcissism are likely to be extroverted, emotionally stable, and mentally healthy. High trait narcissism correlates with improved functioning and an increase in life satisfaction.

Only those at the extreme high-end of the scale begin to resemble those with malignant, pathological narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. How much is too much may be open to interpretation but in the tradeoff between low self-esteem and being highly Narcissistic being in the middle, balancing your needs with the needs of others is the healthiest place to be.

Trait narcissism is rising.

Worldwide there appears to be a rise in the levels of trait narcissism. This principally reflects the shift from Eastern collectivist cultures to the Western competitive, individualistic society. We have encouraged everyone to feel good about themselves by bolstering self-esteem, but despite these efforts, there is more depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. When you keep raising the standards for what you expect from people the result is not universal high self-esteem but a society where no one can measure up.

The concept trait narcissism is chiefly studied using verbal questionnaires and tests. This raises the question if everyone responding to these questionnaires understands the concept in the same way. To refine the research results, the trait of narcissism is often studied by separately analyze various subscales, each of those subscales is defined using other words.

The subscales of narcissism.

These various factors are used in measuring the level of narcissism a person has and the components of this condition. There has been some debate about whether these are all distinct factors or how much these concepts may overlap. Here are my thoughts, not specific diagnostic criteria.

Authority.

When do you take command, insist on leading, and assume you are correct, and how much do you defer to the judgment of others. Do you always think you are right?

Self-sufficiency.

Do you think you can do everything? Do you always need someone else’s help? Can you balance self-sufficiency and cooperation?

Superiority.

Feeling better than others is not the same thing as confidence. No one is the best at everything, but highly narcissistic people think they are inherently superior.

Vanity.

More focus on looking good than on substance.

Exhibitionism.

Balancing the search for applause with a tendency to do things specifically for attention.

Exploitativeness.

Is there give and take in your relationship or are you all about getting what you need.

Entitlement.

Do you accept that you need to work for what you get or do you feel that you are superior to others?

One interesting study examined the difference between people in the community who are high in trait narcissism and a group of prison inmates also high in narcissism. The subscale of Exploitivness mostly predicted which of those people who were high in trait narcissism would end up in prison.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Are you starving for approval?

By David Joel Miller.

Are you desperate for likes?

Desperate for likes?

Desperate for likes?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are some very mentally unhealthy consequences of using social media in an unhelpful way. Don’t become one of those people who spends their life frantically looking for likes. Remember the like button it someone’s opinion about what you said, not a judgment about who you are as a person or what you are doing with your life. If you find your self-esteem is becoming dependent on likes, you have set yourself up to the victimized by bullies and trolls. Here are some reasons why likes are playing too big a role in your life.

In childhood, approval was your pay.

When you were a small child, adults and caregivers in your life rewarded your behavior by giving approval and attention. As we grow in life, the locus of approval should shift from needing the attention of others to working for our own approval. If other people’s opinions matter more than your own is still have some growing up to do.

Learn to do things because you can be proud of them. Make it a point to notice your accomplishments. Don’t turn your self-esteem over to a button on a social media site.

Social approval looks deceptively like success.

Having lots of people like you is a success mirage. Successful people follow their own path. Sometimes doing good things means doing things that aren’t popular. Don’t mistake following the herd for doing something worthwhile. Highly successful people are not on social media, begging to be liked. Saying something for others approval is not an accomplished. Successful people are busy doing things not talking about them

Beware the effect trolls will have on your self-confidence.

People who don’t feel good about themselves delight in hurting others. There will always be someone out there to criticize you. Don’t set yourself up as a human sacrifice to the trolls. The more you do in life, the more people will criticize you. There will always be haters, the bullies of life, out to build themselves up by pulling others down.

Only your mother cared, don’t expect others to.

When you were small, someone, often your mother, fawned over everything you did. When you were very small, taking that first step may have been a big deal. Don’t forget that every other walking person had to take their first step. If something you do gets around applause, or a compliment, acknowledge the gift of appreciation by don’t start doing things expecting acknowledgments.

Don’t expect adults to care what clothing you bought, on what you ate for lunch. Real accomplishments take a lot of time and effort. Getting likes for spending money evaporates rapidly. What matters in your life is not the round of applause you get on social media but the difficult things you do when you are off-line.

Comparing up keeps you small.

When you start comparing yourself to others on social media, you are likely to develop a very biased view of the world. People very rarely compare themselves to others with fewer friends and fewer likes. If you constantly compare yourself to people with more friends and likes you will always feel small. The person with fifty friends always compares themselves to people with thousands of friends. Don’t forget there are other people will only have five friends. The more you compare, the more you judge and measure yourself, the more you harm your self-esteem and diminish yourself confidence.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Relationships suffer when you don’t like you.

By David Joel Miller.

Low self-esteem poisons your other relationships.

Low Self-esteem

Low Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In the aftermath of a failed relationship, many people come to counseling. One common theme is that they have low self-esteem. It’s a human tendency to try to use our relationship to boost our self-esteem and self-confidence.

People with low self-esteem are often like a leaky bucket. No matter how much love and affection their family or partner pours into them, they still feel empty. If you feel that something is lacking in your relationships, start by looking at yourself. People who are emotionally unwell tend to attract sick people into their lives.

Recovering people often find that as they become healthier, they develop more self-esteem. When you feel better about yourself, an unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship, will no longer be acceptable. Healthy people tend to attract other healthy people into their lives. Here are some ways that your low self-esteem may be damaging your relationships.

Low self-esteem makes you needy and dependent.

People who don’t feel good about themselves, don’t like or love themselves, are constantly hungry for approval from others. They seek out strong partners or friends to bolster their egos. That strong in control person you were dating can become that insufferable, controlling person. Extremely needy people drive other people away.

You may become pathologically jealous.

If you don’t feel good about yourself, you may doubt why your partner is staying with you. People who believe their mate has lots of options, while if they lose this partner, they are doomed to be alone, can become pathologically jealous.

When you don’t feel good about your self-worth you may begin to spy on your partner, follow them around, and endlessly question their behavior. If you’re becoming jealous ask yourself is this because you see real signs your partner is cheating on you? Or is this fear because you don’t understand why your partner is staying with you?

You become irritable and fight more.

People who don’t feel well, either physically or emotionally, become irritable and try to push others away. If you don’t like yourself, you may begin to doubt your partner. If you think your partner is likely to cheat on you and then leave you there is a risk you will begin to provoke fights, trying to make, the inevitable happened.

You are lonely even when you’re around others.

Loneliness is a powerful emotional complex. It drives people to associate with other people. If when you are alone, you feel frantic to be around others the problem may be that you don’t like yourself. People with low self-esteem don’t lose that lonely feeling even when they are in a crowd. How can you feel happy and connected when you expect others to dislike you, in the same manner, you just like yourself?

You attract negative people.

People with low self-esteem are hard to be around. They tend to drive away emotionally healthy people. When you’re feeling down, depressed, anxious, and unworthy, you become a magnet for other people with low self-esteem. People who are short on self-love are easy prey for narcissists, psychopaths, and other needy people who are out to use them.

Want healthy relationships?

Begin by improving your relationship with you. You feel better about yourself you will begin to view your relationships with others in a more realistic way. If you like yourself, you will begin to demand that others treat you well. Emotionally healthy people cut the harmful, toxic people out of their lives. As you become mentally healthy, feel better about yourself, you will either find your relationships improving or find it easier to let go of the unhealthy relationships in your life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Self-esteem boosters.

By David Joel Miller.

Does your self-esteem need a boost?

Proud

Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many people describe themselves as having low self-esteem, and yet the things they are doing and the way they are doing those things are reducing their self-esteem rather than improving it.

If you would like to grow your self-esteem here are some behaviors to improve your self-esteem, and some things to stop doing that may be damage your self-esteem.

Doing more worthwhile things builds self-esteem.

One cause of low self-esteem is inaction. Doing nothing is hard on your self-esteem. People who are active, living life, build up their self-esteem. Focus on doing things you can be proud of. Rather than aiming for huge world-changing actions, try to make each thing you do throughout the day something you feel good about.

Focus on the positive not the negative.

Only paying attention to your errors is a sure self-esteem deflator. If you only count the negative you build up a wall that prevents you from seeing your accomplishments. Pay particular attention to the positive things that happen each day of your life. When something good occurs, pause and take special note before that accomplishment disappears from sight.

Develop a positive support system.

Surround yourself with people who feel good about themselves and about you. Having negative people in your life is sure to lower your self-esteem. Positive people build you up; negative influences pull you down. Maximize your helpful support system.

Increase your self-esteem by learning to love yourself.

Learn to love yourself exactly the way you are. You are a worthwhile person because of who you are not because of the things you do. Learn to accept yourself, like yourself, and enjoy spending time with you. Everyone needs a best friend. Become your own best friend, and other friendships will follow.

Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.

Be kind and gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up will not make you a better person. The way you treat yourself becomes the model for the way others will treat you. Include time for a healthy lifestyle in your schedule. Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, and when you’re tired allow yourself to rest and recharge. Don’t engage in self-harming behaviors.

For more self-esteem stop the insults.

Don’t call yourself names. Calling yourself stupid or fat or any other insult will destroy your self-esteem. Learn to view your shortcomings as improvement opportunities. Rather than call yourself stupid, tell yourself that you, like all other humans, sometimes make mistakes. If there are things you don’t know, learn more about them, get more education. If you’re unhappy with your physical condition, see a medical doctor, work with a counselor, and begin the program of self-improvement.

Remember the compliments.

Never getting a compliment undermines self-esteem. Complements are gifts, learn to give them and to accept them graciously. Give honest compliments. See the good in yourself and others. Don’t lie to yourself or pretend you accomplish things you never did. Do learn to recognize the progress you make in your life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Shiny outside, dark side within – the narcissist.

By David Joel Miller.

Narcissists are dazzling at first.

In psychology, there’s an idea referred to as trait narcissism. This trait is closely related to self-esteem and measures how good you feel about yourself. As your narcissism rises, you feel better about yourself. Generally, this is considered a good thing. As your self-esteem rises you take better care of yourself. You may dress better and exhibit more self-confidence. The problems begin when the narcissist loses the ability to empathize with others, and it becomes all about them. At that point, high trait narcissism, or self-esteem, can become a destructive pathological narcissism we call narcissistic personality disorder.

Too much narcissism quickly turns repulsive.

People who have dated pathological narcissists report that in the beginning, the narcissist was extremely attractive. They often dress well, have expensive cars, and appear successful. Pathological narcissists have attracted fields where they can run the show and be in control of others.

When you first meet them, Narcissists are charming. Romantic partners find themselves swept off their feet. In romantic relationships, the problems begin to appear about the seventh date. In business contexts, it may take many months to recognize the destructive aspects of the narcissist.

In narcissism confidence becomes arrogance.

Confidence is a good thing when it comes from a high level of skill and talent. What makes the narcissist dangerous is that their confidence is the result of overvaluing their abilities. Narcissists are good at boasting that they can’t produce the result. What looked like competent turns out to be arrogance. They overestimate themselves and underestimate everyone else.

The narcissist’s overconfidence turns out to be a lack of insight.

Narcissists seek evidence that they are always right and superior to others. Consequently, they discount the opinions and contributions of others. They lose the ability to understand how their actions are affecting others. Narcissists, the pathological kinds, just don’t care about other people. Their view of the world is unrealistic they are unable to accept that they are less than perfect.

The Charming narcissist becomes manipulative and impulsive.

When you first meet a narcissist, they turn on the charm. This is easy for them to do because they fully believe that everyone worships them and that they are superior to others. Because of their unrealistic self-confidence and don’t think things over and act impulsively. These impulsive actions based on the belief that they are always right in their actions should always be admired.

With a narcissist, a dramatic life turns into attention-seeking histrionics.

Because of their grandiose beliefs, narcissists tend to live drama-filled lives. They live larger than life adventures. In their minds, they should be the stars of their own reality show. If others interested in him should lag, they’re likely to behave in histrionic ways.

It’s not unusual for people with pathological narcissism, technically called narcissistic personality disorder, to also qualify for diagnoses of histrionic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. When you believe, you are that wonderful; it’s easy to believe that everything should be about you and that the rules that apply to ordinary mortals don’t apply to you.

With the narcissist, imaginative becomes odd, even bizarre.

People who are high in self-confidence are often imaginative and creative. When self-esteem moves into being feelings of superiority, that creative streak can become bizarre thinking and behavior.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Narcissist in your life?

By David Joel Miller.

Discovered a narcissist in your life?

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Suddenly one day it dawns on you that someone in your life is a narcissist. This person is causing you pain, and you are trying to figure out what to do about them. Maybe this narcissist is a family member, a romantic partner, or maybe it is your boss.

You see all the signs. They have an inflated opinion of themselves, think they’re superior to you and others. Everything is all about them. You notice that they are constantly trying to manipulate you. This narcissist keeps asking your opinion about them. They are hungry for praise but become furious if you criticize them. The more you are around them, the more you feel used. No matter how much you give, it is never enough. They are causing you a lot of pain, and they can’t seem to see why you feel the way you do.

Sure, looks like a narcissist. What are you going to do now?

They shouldn’t act that way, but they do.

The first thing most people do when it dawns on them that they’re dealing with the narcissist is to try to get that narcissist to understand how it makes them feel, and to change their ways. You can spend a lot of time talking to them, trying to get them to understand how they are affecting you. Not only don’t they get it, but they believe they are so special that they have the right to expect everything to be about their needs and wishes. No matter how hard you try, they will not change.

They may be incapable of change.

If this person is really a narcissist, they may be incapable of change. Some people are high in self-esteem, assertive, and confident. The psychologist would say they are high in trait narcissism. Since they are competitive and want to win, they expect everyone else to take care of himself and this person may be slow to recognize how they are impacting you.

If this person has reached the point of malignant narcissism, technically diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder, one of the symptoms of their disorder is a lack of ability to empathize with you. They’re not capable of seeing your point of view. Any change in this situation is going to have to come from you.

What other problems do they have?

As you think about how you can cope with the narcissist think about what other problems, particularly mental health challenges, this person may have. Do they have a history of antisocial behavior? This increases the risk for you. Narcissists who are also paranoid, have Histrionic or Borderline Personality Disorders, present challenges even to highly trained professionals. If the narcissist in your life also has depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder professional help, for them and you, will be needed. Especially avoid narcissists with addictive disorders may be a danger to themselves and others.

What choices do you have?

If you have identified a narcissist in your life, think carefully about your choices. If it’s a boss, you can learn techniques to manage your interactions. You may be able to transfer to a different department or find a different job. Keep in mind that high level of narcissism is common in managers and in certain professions. Think carefully about whether this is something you can put up with or would it be emotionally healthier for you to leave.

For people in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to think about the long-term. If you been going together for two years, you may be telling yourself you have a lot of time invested. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have had to live with this person for 30 or 40 years?

If this is a family member, a parent or sibling, decide if you can tolerate them in small doses. Some people find they have to move away and reduce contact.

Is this a recurring pattern?

Have you been in multiple relationships with narcissists? You need to take a look at yourself; possibly you will need therapy. If you were a child of a narcissistic parent, you might be attracted to a narcissistic partner. We become comfortable with what we are used to. If you are low in self-esteem, you will attract narcissists who will believe it would be easy to manipulate you. What is the solution to the recurring problems? Work on changing yourself.

Will it get better with time?

People who are high in trait narcissism, competitive, self-confident people, tend to mellow with age. You may find that by lowering your expectations for those around you and learning to meet your own needs, that high narcissism person can become tolerable. Think about it. How will you cope with the narcissist in your life?

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How to destroy self-esteem.

By David Joel Miller.

How many self-esteem destroyers have you experienced?

Proud

Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

People around you may be doing things that undermine your self-esteem.

You may have done some of the same things to your family or friends.

Worse yet, you may have been doing these confidence-destroying things to yourself for a long time.

Look at these methods of undermining self-esteem. How many of these things are damaging your self-esteem?

Point out every mistake.

Having someone constantly point out every mistake you make is annoying. When others do this to you, it can lower your self-esteem. When you do it to yourself, it will undermine your confidence. Continually pointing out mistakes but never recognizing accomplishments can create a condition called learned helplessness. When you get the message that you cannot do anything right, you give up trying.

Withhold all praise.

Parents sometimes treat children this way. The old belief was that praising someone too much would give them “a swelled head.” Occasionally pointing out a shortcoming may help someone improve. Continually pointing out every mistake causes people to give up. Why would you continue trying if it is not possible to do it correctly?

Be careful not to praise someone for things that are trivial. Telling your child how great they did when they came in last in a race does not raise their self-esteem. When everyone gets a blue ribbon, the awards do not raise self-esteem. Recognizing effort, regardless of the outcome, does raise self-esteem.

There’s nothing wrong with taking credit for things done well. Make it a point to praise your family and friends and recognize their accomplishments. Give yourself credit. Don’t discount your accomplishments. Taking pride in the things you do results in taking pride in yourself.

Don’t expect others to be better at everything.

The expectation that everyone else is better than you at everything sets up an unrealistic standard. No one is the best at everything. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be careful that you do not set a higher standard of behavior for others than you set for yourself.

Self-handicapping, telling yourself that you are not capable of doing what others do may at first seems like a way to avoid disappointment. However, continually setting lower expectations for yourself damages your self-esteem. Accept yourself and others as good enough just the way you are, while you continue to work on improving yourself.

Don’t make your love conditional.

Being loved only when you do things for others, makes love a commodity. Accept yourself just the way you are. Don’t start believing that you are lovable only because of what you do for others. People who only love because you give them gifts, or do acts of service for them, are confusing love with using people.

Avoid role model failure.

Be careful about whom you pick for a role model. Avoid comparing you in your work clothes to others dressed for the red carpet. Avoid the trap of social media comparisons. If you have ten friends, be happy with that. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has 50 friends and then start believing you do not measure up. If you grew up without a role model, or with poor role models, spend some time becoming the kind of person you want others to model themselves after.

Expect perfection no matter what.

Quality is good. Striving to be your best is wonderful. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you must be perfect or you are no good. Perfectionists tend to drive themselves and others crazy. No matter how well things are done, it is never good enough. Trying to be perfect demolishes self-esteem, is an impossible goal, and is likely to lead to depression and giving up.

Criticize individual differences.

Avoid trying to be exactly like everyone else. Don’t be one of those people criticizes everyone who does not fit the ideal exactly. Embrace your individuality. Allowing you to be yourself and others to be who they are, results in feeling positive about yourself and others.

Use shame to motivate.

Shame is the feeling that you are a bad person. Some people in families try to control others by shaming them. There’s a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says you did something bad don’t do it again. Shame says you made a mistake; you are a bad person. Shaming yourself and others undermine self-esteem and can lead to giving up all efforts to improve.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.