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Trajectories of Self-Esteem
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the previous section, we discussed the use of metaphors as a method for your client
to find closure with some of their "I'm Unlovable" issues.
In this section, we'll talk about the Four R's of Regaining Self-Esteem. At some point in time
before your client's current trauma or presenting problem, they were in a more
positive space. The essence of the four R's is a structured way to utilize this
energy or positive attitude from the past.
age 35, whom we were introduced to in an earlier section, felt that she
was a failure and as she stated, "Couldn't do anything right." Meredith
has been married to Christopher for 15 years. They have two children. Meredith
stated, "I feel like I'm a failure. I never seem to do anything right. Ever
since I was little, I always messed everything up. Now I'm afraid that I'm not
raising my children right, and that Christopher will eventually leave me.”
Four R's of Regaining Self-Esteem
I found the four R's of
rediscovery, reminding, reclaiming and re-energizing served as a general outline
for my sessions with Meredith. Obviously, growth doesn't occur in chronological
order. But as you listen to these Four R's of Regaining Self-Esteem, see if you
agree with my list of four stages of growth as they assist clients with self-defeating
The first R is Reminding.
Oftentimes clients like Meredith need to remind
themselves of hopes and dreams that they have or have had in the past. Meredith
reminded herself of what she had previously wanted to do. She stated, "I
thought about taking a Real Estate course to become an agent, but I had my first
child, and then I wanted to stay at home and focus on raising a family. By the
time I felt that it was okay to be away from the children for a few hours at a
time, I was so afraid I would fail I just figured I'd cut my losses and stay home."
Meredith's fear of failure was so strong, that she began to forget that she had
goals outside of being a mother.
Sound familiar? Once she recalled her goal of
being a Real Estate agent, Meredith wanted to find ways to get past her fear of
failure, so she could honestly evaluate if this was something she wanted to do.
Do you have a client whom you're currently treating that needs to remind themselves
of a goal or dream they've had in the past to regain their Self-Esteem and a feeling
of being worthy of love?
The second R is Rediscover.
Meredith rediscovered her "better side"
as she termed it, rather than focusing on her fear of failure. Here's how she
rediscovered her "better side." In a session, Meredith recalled how
she had felt when she graduated from high school, "My parents and teachers
were so proud of me. I did a really good job my senior year." I asked Meredith,
"Think about how you felt when you graduated from high school, and how it
would feel to graduate from the Real Estate course."
you found, like I have, that once clients remind themselves of their goals and
dreams, they sometimes can rediscover a time in their lives when they felt confident?
They start to realize what's possible for them, and work towards becoming that
person again. Do you have a client that may benefit from rediscovering and discussing
a positive feeling from the past to connect with their present situation to regain
The third R is Reclaiming Strength.
Being reminded of her hopes and dreams
of going to Real Estate School allowed Meredith to reclaim her strength and dignity,
and reminded her that she deserved a better life. Meredith stated, "I guess
I know that part of me, somewhere, is a decent human being. I just need to focus
on that more often than being afraid all the time."
By actively reclaiming
her faith in herself, Meredith realized that her hopes and dreams could become
a reality. I've found, as you probably have, that the key for my client to reclaim
or assimilate a strength is feeling they deserve to feel that way. In your next
session with your Meredith, do you need to ask the question, "Do you feel
you deserve happiness in a relationship?" or "Do you feel you deserve
the promotion, or the boat, or the new house?" I find the use of the word
"deserve" is the springboard to assisting a client to reclaim a strength
they may have lost or never felt they had.
Most importantly, the fourth and final R after reminding, rediscovering, and reclaiming
is re-energizing. At the Rediscovery and Reclaiming stages, your clients
are reminded of their hopes and dreams.
As you know, hopes and dreams
are important because they can re-energize your client's life. Meredith's hope
of taking the Real Estate course acted as a catalyst in reclaiming her strengths,
and re-energized her to get the happiness that she now felt she deserved.
stated, "When I enrolled in the Real Estate course, I began to get back a
sense of Self-Esteem over my life. I felt in charge of my life and less like Christopher's
doormat. I could make my own decisions. Now I feel that I'm not a failure; I'm
a person working towards a goal and doing the best I can."
The Think-Aloud Technique
facilitate the use of the Four R's, I've found it helpful for some clients to
use The Think-Aloud Technique. Here's how it works. I told Meredith, "When
you go through the four R's, verbalize all thoughts and feelings experienced while
reminding, rediscovering, reclaiming, and re-energizing. This will help you to
further internalize the steps you're taking to feel better about yourself. If
you're uncomfortable with thinking aloud, you can also write your thoughts and
feelings down in a journal. It's the act of expression that helps you internalize,
not necessarily the way that you express these thoughts."
summary, the four R's of regaining Self-Esteem are: reminding, rediscovering,
reclaiming and re-energizing. They can help your client focus on positive
aspects of their life and act as a springboard to dispute their negative image.
The next section will deal with the emotional roller coaster that your client may
find themselves riding as they begin to re-examine these Lifetraps.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Hank, P. (2015). Beyond an informal everyday concept of self-esteem: A latent state-trait model. Journal of Individual Differences, 36(4), 237–246.
McCullough, K. M., Wong, Y. J., & Deng, K. (2021). Exploring the connections between watching Asian American YouTubers, racial identity, and self-esteem. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 12(1), 41–51.
Rentzsch, K., Erz, E., & Schütz, A. (2021). Development of short and ultra-short forms of the Multidimensional Self-Esteem Scale: Relations to the Big Five, narcissism, and academic achievement in adults and adolescents. European Journal of Psychological Assessment.
Roberson, K., & Pieterse, A. L. (2021). Internalized racism and self-esteem: Do depressive symptoms matter? Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 27(3), 531–536.
Shaw, B. A., Liang, J., & Krause, N. (2010). Age and race differences in the trajectories of self-esteem. Psychology and Aging, 25(1), 84–94.
Wagner, J., Gerstorf, D., Hoppmann, C., & Luszcz, M. A. (2013). The nature and correlates of self-esteem trajectories in late life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(1), 139–153.
What are the four R's of Regaining Self-Esteem? To select and enter
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