Negative thoughts, such as “I am not good enough,” “no one will ever love me,” or “I am worthless and inferior” are at the heart of someone battling depression, self-harm, addictive behaviors, and/or suicidal thoughts. In order to overcome these beliefs and to foster positive self-esteem, it is important to combat negative thoughts, feelings, and images.
One challenge is that individuals often feel that being “worthy” or “lovable” is dictated upon achievements and successes. This sets up for a roller-coaster ride throughout various life experiences, because failure is inevitable and mistakes will happen, even if it eventually leads to success. Linking worth to skills and success is something to decrease.
Another way to target negative and faulty thinking is considering exceptions and examples that do not fit your original thought. For example, “you have to be successful to be lovable.” If someone is only attracted to you because of your wealth, power, and prestige, is that really the type of person you want in your life? Another example, “the most worthwhile people are the most successful people.” Can you think of people who are successful and who have done bad, wrong, or illegal things?
In terms of performance, when you lose a match or make a mistake in a game, does that automatically lead to failure and being less lovable, or could it make you more relatable and increase the dedication and passion you put into the sport?
Consider what you’re measuring. Do you need a 100 on a scale to be worthwhile and successful, or is the magical cutoff 75? If your definition is 100, does that mean everyone else in the population is worthless and lovable? This automatically implies discrepancy in worth between individuals. When a conflict arises, think and challenge your reasoning, and consider having this conversation with a friend.
Other helpful techniques: Start with your skills, traits, and talents that you do consider worthwhile. This first technique is based on conditional self-esteem. The next step is based on unconditional self-esteem, noting that you are worthy and lovable just because you are human. Third, remove the term self-esteem and declare it as a verbal trap—just like perfectionistic. The burden is removed when you make the decision and choice that you do not “need” something to be special, loved, or worthy.