When Fear Rules !

Negative Thoughts Trash Self-Esteem

by on Apr.29, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I talk a lot about how crucial it is that we continue to challenge ourselves, to stretch and face obstacles. We all enjoy feeling we are doing something worthwhile and purposeful with our lives, that we are taking steps to accomplish things we have thought of doing.

However, most of us have a competing need to feel comfortable and safe.
It is like we have a part of our brain that daydreams and imagines while another part wants to protect, and that is the reality of what often does occur between our ears on a rather constant basis. This is especially true for the more adapting, approval seeking personality types. While your intellectual side says, “ I would like to do something special and more meaningful in my life”, the other side throws negative thoughts in your way to detour your efforts.

The more you allow yourself to give in to the detours, the more you weaken your resolve to stretch and take new steps, thereby creating even more negative self-talk that trashes your self-esteem. It’s a viscous cycle !

We know it has been a difficult job market out there. Great opportunities for personal growth are harder to find,  and many find themselves having to take a job that is below their expectations, just to have a job. Others lose jobs and find themselves filing for Unemployment Compensation, while I find some attempting to seek out Social Security Disability due to stress and depression. It is tough out there !

There is no perfect answer, but one thing I have seen is that even though the road map may have more detours than you are use to, it is still very important to stay on course. Yes, you may need to take a job that you feel is beneath you, or that is not on your career path, but what is critical is that you stay focused on the reality that this is just a detour, and that you continue to network and search for what you really want. At least you are working, which keeps you out there mingling with people, where others can see what you are capable of, and where you can feel more worth and value than if you are sitting home collecting unemployment.

I have seen many who have taken advantage of unemployment, which I can appreciate, but while receiving benefits, they do not search for jobs or take classes to improve their chances of securing a better job and staying focused on their personal growth. Many have said to me,”I will start looking once the Unemployment checks stop”. For so many, their self esteem weakens as they are not feeling productive and they are avoiding taking steps that would put them in a better place. After a while, their dreams die off and they settle for so much less than they want and deserve.

Then there are those who take jobs, but what they are doing is certainly not on par with what they planned. However, if it is a reasonable job, helps pay the bills, it is not surprising that many in that situation just become comfortably-uncomfortable with what they are doing. The longer they are in that limbo state, the more they weaken in personal resolve.

Now all of these people I am talking about most likely know they are avoiding doing what they need to do, but at the same time, they may want to avoid feeling potential rejection by continuing to job search. Obviously, since there is that underlying realization that they are avoiding, their self-esteem gets slammed as their negative self-talk becomes more intense.

In the case of my clients going through the above scenarios, they report that their anxiety symptoms have increased,  where they are either experiencing more panic attacks or that the obsessive/ intrusive thoughts or compulsive behavior is on the rise. Sure, they are feeling in conflict within themselves. They KNOW they are avoiding or giving in to the detours, not taking all the steps they should be. We cannot escape the ravages of avoidance on our self-esteem.

Of course, this does not just apply to job/career issues. The fact is that relationship issues and conflicts are huge triggers for anxiety symptoms. If a person is in a relationship where they are unhappy and unfulfilled, or even worse where they are being abused, manipulated or controlled, but avoids taking steps to make changes, they weaken day by day. The longer one stays in that type of friendship or relationship, the more our self esteem suffers, and the negative self-talk flourishes. Before you know it, we can start telling ourselves we do not deserve any better, or that we are not good enough to deserve what we truly want.

Obstacles are made to be challenged, but unless you are by nature an aggressive personality, you run the risk of a shrinking self-esteem if you avoid taking steps {not leaps} to challenge your fears and negative self-talk. That can easily lead to an emotional paralysis. Don’t let this happen. One Step at a Time ! Re-work your plan and goals. Set reasonable goals based on the changing climate out there, find support persons where you keep pushing each other ahead, but don’t dare settle.

Feel free to join me in our on-line Support Groups, Sunday evenings at 9 PM, ET. Just go to http://www.OneStepataTime.com  and join as a free member.

And remember to visit our Blog at http://www.RuledByFear.com

We are on Facebook  :  https://www.facebook.com/groups/RuledByFear

We are also writing Blogs for the San Clemente California Patch, the Brecksville Ohio Patch and the Strongsville Ohio Patch on line Newspapers. Go to http://www.Patch.com .

Be Good to Yourself,

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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