Tag Archive for: giorgio nardone

Self-esteem by the pound! Advice to achieve it

Self-esteem can be reached by everyone, let’s find out together what is the winning strategy to achieve it. Regardless of the problem that leads people to turn to me, the first requests that are made of me are:

“Yes, I would like to solve my difficulty (phobia, relational problem, overcoming a bereavement …), but first help me to increase my self-esteem”.

“Before solving his problem, we need to raise my son’s self-esteem”.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, self-esteem is not a gift to be wrapped and given to the person concerned, everyone must build it independently.

With brief strategic therapy, the person immediately gets involved in overcoming their limits, that is, the problems that led them to ask for help. In fact, indications are given to be put into practice between sessions. It is precisely by putting oneself on the line and overcoming his/her/their own difficulties that he will win twice, via the disturbance and via a welcome increase in self-esteem.

Of course, sometimes it is the only request that is asked of me, but even in this case it is possible to identify challenges to be overcome, which the person is avoiding engaging in fear or had not identified as necessary. In any case, if the fight is done in person (supported by the therapeutic indications), self-esteem rises.

There are those who have suffered for years insults and devaluations by those who instead should have supported them, for example the family, in this case it will be necessary to work both on the past, to ensure that the person is emancipated from it, and on the anger that may have generated all this in him/her/them. They are elaborations, sometimes painful, in which the person is an agent, so once he/she/they have reached inner peace, he/she/they can only compliment themselves.

It is necessary to overcome the belief that others can give us self-esteem, here are some reflections in this regard:

  • It is better to ensure that the people we care about put themselves to the test by risking failure (but also success!), rather than preventing any difficulties that may arise. If the person doesn’t do well, he/she/they will have learned how to do better next time.
  • You don’t need to praise someone to boost their self-esteem, they will notice (at any age!) if compliments are just made to make them feel better.
  • It is essential to take the educational responsibility of “arguing”, if necessary, with children, to encourage them to complete the paths they have taken (e.g. sport). When they come to the end, they will be proud of themselves, they will have more confidence in their abilities, they will learn to be more resistant to effort. If at the first difficulty you accept that they surrender without wanting to, you will pass the idea that you also think they would not have succeeded. If you discuss it, you will show that you believe in him/her/they. Obviously, each case is unique and tenacity as an end in itself is not productive; it is a question of listening to understand the reasons for wanting to interrupt, if these are valid, so be it.
  • If those around us want to help us achieve self-esteem, they must support us, not replace us!
positive thinking rimini

The false myth of “think positive”

How many times in the face of a difficult situation have we been told: “Think positive!”, “Be optimistic!”. Whether it’s a minor mishap like puncturing a tire, missing an important appointment due to illness, or a real existential tragedy, such as a critical work situation, relationship problems with children, partners, the possibility of having contracted an illness…usually these words can have a double effect on us:

  • The first, the most obvious: “He says it to encourage me / because he loves me”.
  • The second, which insinuates itself in a slightly less conscious way into our minds is: “It gives little importance to my problem”.

Far from supporting the approach of those who empathically end up “crying with us”; or who with a fatal attitude liquidates everything with: “Life is all a rip off!”

It could be useful to start from the person’s narration, confirming the weight that his problem actually has, and then together look for a solution to get out of it. A solution that is as practical as possible, not mental ruminations or sterile theories; Sometimes a friend who knows us well can help us in this task. Obviously if it is not enough it will be necessary to contact a professional.

N.B. Complaining blocks the action!

Sometimes, however, we ourselves inflict it on ourselves with worse results if possible.

In the book “Psicotrappole” (“Psychotraps”, or the sufferings we build ourselves), Giorgio Nardone indicates that positive thinking is one of the worst “thinking” psychotraps. With positive thinking, in fact, one might end up deluding oneself and the following disappointment can even lead to depressive forms. Moreover, the higher the expectation, the more devastating is the effect of disappointment.

Taking into account that the mechanism of self-fulfilling prophecy works much more in the negative than in the positive; when we voluntarily try to think positively, the paradoxical effect is obtained: I end up depressed more, if I am afraid and I try to think optimistically, I am further scared.

So, what to do?

The “psychosolution” offered in Nardone’s text, which I highly recommend reading, is:

  • Remember that positive thinking in the face of fear, anger or pain exacerbates these feelings rather than reducing them.
  • Positive thinking is only useful when there are already successful results, to amplify the confidence in our resources and abilities, already expressed in the facts. This means increasing efforts on the basis of proven effectiveness, therefore the opposite of an illusory, voluntary expectation.

In conclusion, it is essential to keep the tendency to create voluntary illusions at bay, so as not to say, “the journey was beautiful but the arrival was disappointing”.