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Low Self-Esteem Panic Attacks

Having a healthy self-esteem has immeasurable benefits, but instead many of us suffer from low self-esteem panic attacks.


We treat ourselves with disrespect and abuse ourselves with self-attacks. During these self-attacks we act as both the abuser and the victim. The abuser will say, “you’ll never be able to do it, you’ll make a fool of us”, and the victim will say, “I’ll never be able to do it, I am going to make a fool of myself”.


After this internal dialog a full-on panic attack ensues, and we run for cover when no one is chasing us.


In order to break free from this cycle we first have to address the root.


What is self-esteem?


Low self-esteem causes us to mess up our lives because self-esteem is the way we think about ourselves and the value we place on ourselves. It’s the ingrained beliefs we have about ourselves.


We all criticize ourselves from time to time, but if you are consumed with bad thoughts about yourself or judge yourself negatively, you have low self-esteem.


You may not know the cause of your low self-esteem, but there are steps to take to improve it.


Signs Of Low Self-Esteem


What are the signs of a low self-esteem?

· critical, negative, and abusive internal dialogue

· focusing on your negatives and ignoring your achievements

· thinking that other people are better than you

· avoiding challenges for fear of failing

· avoid things you find challenging

· comparing yourself to others

· hyper self-awareness and self-focus

· self-doubt

· low self-worth


Critical, Negative, And Abusive Internal Dialogue


The most significant warning sign of a low self-esteem is critical, negative, and abusive internal dialogues.


These internal dialogues usually come from early childhood experiences that are internalized and form part of the way we think about ourselves. As we grow-up, we try to make sense of human interactions, and give reasons to the way people treat us or treat themselves. Many of our negative internal dialogues come from internalized interactions with our parents, primary care takers, peers, siblings, and other influential adults such as teachers, sports coaches, aunts, uncles, and family friends.


For example, growing-up your parents might have had marital problems that you were unaware of, or were too young to understand. The tension at home was high and on a few occasions your mother snapped at you. She was overwhelmed and said, “your room is always such a mess, I am tired of cleaning up after all of you”. You try and make sense of you mother’s anger or unhappiness and think, “if I am super neat my mom will be happy”. She might have been consumed or guarded, and unaware of this, you went to give her a long hug, and she said, “stop clinging to me, you are not a baby anymore”. You internalize her response and think that only immature children need physical affection.


A social example is, your friend had a big fight with her mother before school. When you see her, you ask her if you can borrow her tennis racketed to use after school. She is rude to you and says, “no, get your parents to buy you your own racketed”. You immediately internalize her reaction and reason that she is angry and irritated with you, or that she doesn’t really want to be friends with you anymore.


A work example is, at work a position opened that you have had your eye on for a while and you are very excited. You go to the relevant manager’s office to talk to him about applying of the position. Unbeknown to you, he has had a terrible morning. He had missed a deadline and upstairs was breathing down his neck. When you start talking to him about applying for the position, he cuts you off and tells you to send him an email with your CV. You internalize his behavior and reason that he is telling you that you won’t get the job and shouldn’t waste his time by applying.


We can see from these examples that when we internalize someone’s behavior toward us, it makes it a part of how we feel or think about ourselves. Our critical internal dialog is the part of us that has turned against us. Believing our critical internal dialog leads to self-limiting behavior and negative consequences. The negative beliefs oppose our best interests and diminish our self-esteem. In other words, people often make their actions correspond to their self-attacks, such as not applying for a job position or not wanting physical affection.

Internalized Critical, Negative, And Abusive Dialogues


Here are examples of internalized critical, negative, and abusive dialogues:

· you scold yourself for making a mistake by thinking, “you are such a loser, you can never do anything right”

· you call yourself names such as, “you stupid fat idiot”

· you have destructive thoughts about yourself such as, “if I am not perfect, no one will like me”

· you sneer at yourself and think, “everyone will see that you are a fraud, who are you kidding”

· you have belittling thoughts such as, “the next time you think you have a bright idea, rather keep it to yourself, no one cares what you have to say”

· you have self-critical thoughts like, “you are so ugly”, “I'll never be good enough”, “I am a terrible person”, “I will always be alone”, or “I am such a failure”

· you have hostile attitudes toward yourself such as, “I hate myself and so does everyone else”


The nagging thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our low self-esteem. The nagging thoughts and doubts increase our nervousness and interfere with our performance at various times.


The critical internal dialog is an internal enemy that can affect every aspect of our lives, including our self-esteem and confidence, our personal and intimate relationships, and our performance and accomplishments at school and work.


The Consequences Of Critical, Negative, And Abusive Internal Dialogue


Here are some of the consequences of having critical, negative, and abusive internal dialogues:

· it increases your nervousness and interferes with your performance at various times

· it impacts your mental health

· the streams of destructive thoughts, form an anti-self-enemy, that discourages you

· the negative thoughts undermine your positive feelings about yourself and fosters self-criticism, inwardness, distrust, self-denial, addictions, and a retreat from goal-directed activities

· it encourages and strongly influences self-defeating and self-destructive behavior

· hostile, judgmental thoughts promote angry and cynical attitudes toward others and create a negative, pessimistic picture of the world

· it undermines our ability to interpret events realistically

· it triggers negative moods

· it sabotages our pursuit of satisfaction and meaning in life

· it leads to a sense of alienation and a feeling of being removed from ourselves and distant from those we love

· it has a degrading, and a punishing quality

· a demeaning inner tone increase your feelings of self-hatred instead of motivating you to change undesirable actions in a constructive manner


Focusing On The Negative


Negativity Bias


All of us have some form of negative bias. We have a tendency to focus more on negative feedback from people and dwell more on negative events.


We also feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully, than the joy of praise.


Focusing On The Positive


Personal obstacles and personal failures cause us to focus on our negative traits and flaws. When we go through a long difficult situation or period, after a while the only things we can think about or focus on is our flaws.


It requires a complete mind-shift to focus on our positive traits once again, instead of our negative traits. The process is a simple one, but it does take commitment, time, and practice, you are creating a new habit after all. Here are some ways to achieve this mind shift:

· Make a list of at least 20 of your positive traits. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to make the list, especially if you have suffered from long term low self-esteem. You can also add to it as time goes on. To help you start your list, focus on compliments loved ones have given you over the years. After you have completed the list, make a specific appointment with yourself daily to read your list. If you are really dedicated set a daily alarm to remind yourself.

· After a week or so, you will notice that you have memorized your positive traits list, and you should start feeling a little more confident.

· Now it is time to focus on your internal dialog and replace criticism, negative and abuse internal dialog with your positive traits.

· Practice positive self-talk. Start by following this simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirming your positive traits.

· Think about things you are thankful for in your life. Focusing on things that you are thankful for is a sure way to change your outlook on life.


Putting Positive Thinking Into Practice

Negative self-talk

Positive thinking

I've never done it before.

I love learning new things.

It's too complicated.

I'll tackle it from a different angle.

I don't have the resources.

I am good at making a plan.

It's too radical a change.

Let's take a chance, it will be an adventure.

I'm not going to get any better at this.

​I'll give it another try, it’s okay if it takes me a little longer than other people.

Growth


Instead of focusing on your flaws, you can rather focus on ways that you can grow, or areas where you can improve.


I have discussed personal growth in detail in a previous blog called Embracing Change And Growth.


Thinking Other People Are Better Than You


When we think that we are better than other people we are arrogant. But I want to purpose that when our go-to assumption is that other people are better than us, we are ignorant as opposed to being arrogant.