Friday, September 24, 2021

Avoid Self-Sabotage In Therapy By Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Since starting my practice in 2016, I’ve talked to over 250 clients over some 4000 hours. And one subject that keeps coming up is how good self-esteem is connected to success in therapy sessions.

So how does that work?

People go to therapy sessions for various reasons. If you’re caring for someone who’s sick or starting your own company, a therapy session is the perfect safe space to have an open chat about your thoughts and emotions.

Or perhaps you have identified an issue and want to make changes.  Like you want to manage your anxiety better. Or you’re bulimic and want to stop binging and purging. Or you want to stop falling into toxic relationships.

All of these are perfectly common issues but here’s where it gets tricky: if you want to figure out what’s going on, you have to look into yourself and figure out how you think and behave.

And this is where self-esteem comes in.

Self-esteem is what we think, feel, and believe about ourselves. If you have good self-esteem, you know you’re human, which means you’re nicely flawed, just like everyone else, good bits and less good bits, all mixed up.

With good self-esteem, you dig inside yourself and say, “this bit of me I like and keep”, “this bit of me I don’t like so much, but I’ll keep it and call it a feature” and “that bit of me I’m not keen on so I’m going to change it.”

And the thing is, with good self-esteem, you can be as loving about the bits of you that you don’t like very much as you can about the rest of you.

If you have low self-esteem, you don’t believe in yourself, and you have that nagging feeling that you’re unworthy, a failure, or not quite right. And that leads to self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage refers to behaviour or thinking that stops you from doing what you want to do.

Like, if you’re caring for someone who’s sick and you know you’re burning out and feeling angry, hopeless and helpless, talking it through will help. But self-sabotage will whisper, “You should be an angel of mercy! What if they think you’re selfish or wicked?” And then those fears stop you from reaching out.

Of if you’re bulimic, self-sabotage will have you thinking, “If I can’t change immediately and without backsliding in three sessions, it proves I’m beyond hope.” And as changing habits and mindsets isn’t a 1-2-3, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure.

What is particularly nasty about low self-esteem and self-sabotage is that after they’ve made sure you fail, they combine to whisper, “told you so; you suck” and then you’re afraid to try again.

So, how can you help yourself? 

First, know three truths:

#1 You’re human, imperfect and that’s okay

#2 Be as kind to yourself as you are to others

#3 When your inner critic starts up, recognise it as stress talking and distract yourself. Make tea, pet the cat, walk the dog, clean a drawer, sing a song, whatever

And for a nice self-esteem boost, try this positive qualities exercise:

#1 Pick four of your positive qualities (here are some ideas)

Adventurous    Ambitious   Appreciative   Artistic   Brave  Calm  Charming  Clean  Clever  Considerate  Courageous  Curious  Decisive  Easygoing  Empathetic  Enthusiastic  Ethical  Fashionable  Forgiving  Frank  Friendly  Grateful  Helpful Honest  Humble  Humorous  Imaginative  Independent  Individualistic  Interesting  Kind  Leader  Logical  Loyal  Mature  Neat  Open-minded  Optimistic  Patient  Reasonable  Resilient  Responsible  Romantic  Self-confident  Self-disciplined  Thoughtful

#2 Two or three times a week, look back over the last 48 hours and see where you displayed your four positive qualities.

So if you picked humorous, you might say, “Yesterday I cheered up my friend by telling her my rabbit joke.” Talk to yourself, or journal, it doesn’t matter how you do it – as long as you do it.

It may feel a bit weird, especially if you’re used to being mean to yourself, but keep at it. This exercise will focus your mind on your good points in a regular, constructive manner and that will give you a bit of a boost.

Remember: the more accepting you are of yourself, the easier it will be to make the changes you want.

I hope you found this interesting.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Friday, September 10, 2021

What's up, Doc? Telling The Pros From The Quacks


A random image

Doctor, patient, diagnose – they’re powerful words that imply Science, Medicine and a certain reliability and objectivity.  But if you’re not standing in your doctor’s office, I strongly suggest you’re a bit careful.

There’s a chiropractor just down the road from me who wears a lab coat, calls herself “Doctor” and calls her clients “patients.” She also “diagnoses” her clients with various ailments.

I came across her because she terrified one of my friends with her “medical advice.”

So here are some facts:

Anyone with a PhD is a doctor. You can get a PhD in lots of subjects from Astronomy to Zoology.

Medical Degree holders are called Doctor – although they don’t usually have PhDs.

Vets are called Doctor although they don’t have Medical Degrees and usually not PhDs either.

There are lots of professions with their own courses that confer Doctor titles. This includes chiropractors, people who use massage techniques and exercise for healing.

Does it matter?

Chiropractors can be very helpful and healing, and a PhD in zoology might have some insight into human health too. I have consulted my vet for my own health and had some excellent advice (‘cause I’m a cow 😊)

However, they are not medical doctors.

Transparent and honest professional people will tell you, “I’m Dr Jane, I have a PhD in physiotherapy but I’m not a medical doctor.”  Or they just say, “I’m Jane, I have a PhD in physiotherapy.” They also avoid words like “diagnose” and “patient”.

Should we restrict who can call themselves Doctor?

Frankly, I don’t care what people call themselves, as long as they are transparent about their qualifications.

I run a mile from a chiropractor with a white coat who calls herself “doctor”, just as I run a mile from a clinical psychologist who calls her clients “patients.” I avoid them because anyone who uses souped up words like these is pretending to have training that they don’t have.

I find that misrepresentation extremely concerning. I don't trust people like that.

As there are lots of different doctors about, and social media doesn’t check credentials, I’m extremely careful of what I believe online. I ask a lot of questions and it’s surprising how many shady types are out there without a medical degree are giving “medical advice”.  

Here’s what to know about mental health professionals.

A psychiatrist is a doctor, a person with a medical degree and also a specialist. They specialise in diagnosing and treating mental illness. As they are doctors, they can prescribe medicine.

Every other kind of mental health professional, whether they are psychologists, therapists, counsellors, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, or other titles, are not medical doctors. They cannot prescribe medicine or sell you supplements. (And if they tell you that supplements are part of therapy, they’re scamming you.

As for my titles, I have a Master’s Degree, so you can call me Mistress 😊 Kidding! I’m not a doctor of any kind.

I have a Bachelors of Science with Honours in Psychology from Stirling University, Scotland and a Masters with Distinction in Counselling from Open University Malaysia. I’m also a member of some fancy schmancy organisations like the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy but I don’t put that anywhere except for my invoices because I don’t want people to be thinking MBACP means I’m a doc. Also, I make it very clear that I cannot diagnose, and I have plain clients who call me Ellen.

I hope you find this interesting. Tell me what you think in the comments?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay