Self-esteem, Confidence and Assertiveness – The ‘Whole-Brain and Holistic’ approach

I feel rubbish about myself, what’s the point even trying to get a job or a girlfriend?

Whenever I’m around two or more people I just ‘change’ somehow, and become all dithery and nervous. I’m really self-conscious and I keep imaging they don’t like me and think I don’t deserve to be there. I can’t talk properly and every time I open my mouth and try to say something it comes out all wrong, and I want the ground to open up and swallow me. I feel so stupid and ashamed.”

It’s as if everyone else has a sat-nav to get them through life, and I can’t even read the street sign-posts as I stumble around and so I just keep getting lost. I’m such an idiot and everyone can see that.”

Such feelings of ‘low self-esteem’ or weak self-concept, or inadequate social skills and social anxiety are common, people just cover them up in different ways – from avoidance of going out and meeting people, to overcompensating by being the ‘people-pleaser’ or even the embarrassing drunk who sets up the very rejection he/she expects.

We need to get at the facts and evidence behind the emotions – to find out how this incapacitating problem was created and how it has been kept alive ever since – probably growing more problematic each year.

When approaching any problem in a ‘whole-brain and holistic’ way we want to cover all angles – and not be limited to looking only at someone’s history/memory; or their thinking style; or the way they express feelings; or to make plans or set goals for their future – as the different traditional therapy theories do. Instead we want to establish the context and bigger picture, to include the physiological/biological, social, relational and perhaps spiritual aspects of the person’s difficulties.

They may have a genetic predisposition to be shy, withdrawn and overly cautious; but there might well be early experiences such as trauma, abuse or neglect; or the need to be false and wear masks and to fulfill expected ‘roles’ in the family, school or church, which have also limited their confidence and self-belief, created their poor self-concept and left them with inadequate social skills.

The way a person sees and evaluates their own physical appearance, and how they compare it to others; and how they take care of themselves, and how much respect and time they give to their body, posture, diet and health, and their sleeping patterns, are all contributory factors which greatly affect their self-concept (which is first formed from the opinions of others and the type of attention paid to us in childhood).

We might also explore an example of a recent scenario – which we’ll talk through as we create the steps of their personal flow-chart of blockages… and to pause and reflect upon what the person was assuming, telling themselves, and feeling, at each step.

It’s all very well knowing how a problem got set up and carried on throughout the years, but it’s more important to then make the necessary changes which will improve someone’s overall self-confidence; and to learn and rehearse (in a small safe group – as happens in the modules of ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process) the necessary skills for assertive behaviour, different levels and styles of communication – both speaking and listening, and how to handle the ‘difficult people’ who threaten our inner balance. Using the powers of imagination and heartfelt visualisation then helps to cement the desired changes.

There are nutritional and herbal supplements to assist in keeping the mood calm and relaxed, to reduce cravings, and to aid sound sleep. (There is also a system called B.E.E.R. which I’ve created to help with sleep problems – see page 63 of my book ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process for more details).

A new way of relating to one’s self; improved ‘self-talk’; new information/knowledge; understanding; and learning and practicing new social skills all add to the mix of creating a better and more helpful self-concept – drafted with the adult brain and not simply replaying the decisions and fears of the wounded child inside us.

(For persistent problems due to a negative ‘programming’ from childhood, I have also devised an approach called Quantum Psyche Process www.qpp.uk.com which changes the SCRIPT or the Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time, and my book ‘Into Minds – an introduction to Quantum Psyche Process gives a fuller explanation of this.)

Negative and out-dated decisions about who we are, what we deserve and what we should expect can drain our energy and prevent us from ever becoming the best version of ourselves. We can chose to change those childhood decisions into ones that serve us better as adults, and give us the freedom of a robust, confident, self-assured, assertive and authentic self – which we all have the right to!

 

By Maxine Harley (MSc Integrative Psychotherapy) www.maxineharley.com    www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk     www.qpp.uk.com