I received an email today from a 16 year old girl asking for help. She is having problems with her self-esteem. Sound familiar?
It seems to me that most of us with Panic and Anxiety disorders have self-image and self-esteem issues. Learning to accept ourselves and honor ourselves is key to dealing with Panic Disorder, in my opinion. My panic has subsided greatly since I changed my self-image.
What is self-image? There are many key issues wrapped up in your self-image. Let me offer some definitions for your consideration.
Self-Concept: This is an individual’s evaluation of himself or herself – a self-appraisal.
Self-Image: This is the picture that you have of yourself, the sort of person you believe you are. How would you describe yourself to someone?
Your self-image is created by your peers, your parents, those around you. Whether feedback is positive or negative, this is how you tend to view yourself.
Self-Esteem: This is how you feel about yourself. You may have a very postive self-image and very low self-esteem.
How do you go about improving your Self-Concept?
~ Become aware of yourself.
~ Establish a positive attitude towards yourself and others.
~ Acknowledge all of your feelings.
~ Focus on yourself.
~ Strive to believe that you, and others, are worthy of being liked and accepted.
~ Develop the belief that you, and others, are worthy of respect.
~ Stay away from those people who are highly critical of you.
~ Surround yourself with people who support you.
Remember, the people around you expect you to behave in a certain way. As your self-concept improves, these people may need some time to get used to the ‘new’ you!
Try these exercises to speed you on your way to self-actualization, to being all that you can be, to loving, honoring and respecting yourself!!
(The Communication Handbook, 1986, p. 274, Joseph DeVito)
- Answer the question “Who am I?” by writing 10 to 20 times “I am…” Complete the sentence with what comes to mind first.
- Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns: “Stengths” and “Weaknesses.” Fill the two columns as quickly as possible with strengths and weaknesses you see in yourself.
- Take another sheet of paper and, under the heading “Self-Improvement Goals,” complete the statement “I want to improve my…” as many times as you can in 5 minutes.
These exercises are the beginning of a dialogue with and about yourself, but remember that you change, so update the exercise occasionally.