I was so very happy to have been one of the counsellors working as a 'decluttering buddy' for a new scheme run by Mind in Croydon for Croydon Council. The 12 week project saw us working with participants in group meetings to look at how and why the compulsive hoarding may have started and to look at techniques that could help. Alongside this we worked with each participant individually in their homes to help in any way we could; whether that was to help break the cycle or acquiring more items or to roll our sleeves up and work on decluttering.
I'm very proud of the success of the group and the individual achievements amongst the participants. Hoarding has recently been recognised by the American Psychiatric Institute as a mental health condition and I believe these sort of projects to be vital in supporting those who suffer with compulsive hoarding.
The BBC took an interest in this very worthwhile project which you can find here.
Our self-esteem tends to rise and fall over time and can sometimes take a battering if we have a negative life experience. Our self-esteem is determined by our view of ourselves which is formed from our experiences and relationships both in the past and present.
The great news is that there are some practical things you can do to raise your self-esteem and the even greater thing is that you can start right away!
Accept compliments. It’s amazing how many of us brush off a compliment when it comes our way. This is bad for our self-esteem because it means we’re telling ourselves that we’re not worthy of the compliment, or that we don’t deserve it. It can also make the compliment giver feel rejected! Many people feel embarrassment when receiving a compliment but all you need to say is ‘thank you’. This doesn’t need to be followed by a justification such as ‘well I was just lucky’ or ‘I didn’t do anything really’. Don’t give those kind of negative thoughts space.
The most basic definition of self-care is that it is the action we take to look after ourselves, but it’s so much more than that. We’ve all been there where we feel low or stressed or tired (or all three) and we can’t be bothered to feed ourselves healthy food so we fill our body with rubbish, we don’t go outside and get any fresh air, we cancel seeing our friends, and we don’t go out and do the things we usually enjoy. When we behave like this we are showing a lack of self-care, basically we stop looking after ourselves because we simply can’t find it within us to care enough.
When we look after ourselves we’re reminded that we matter and that we’re worth looking after which is good for our self-esteem and our self-worth. It’s amazing how we would hate it if a friend was not prioritising caring for themselves, but yet we find it acceptable to do it to ourselves.
So what do I mean about self-care? I’m talking about eating right, keeping up with personal hygiene, exercising,...
It feels like I see or hear something every day about mindfulness and how we should all be practising it. There’s a huge body of evidence which suggests that people who practice being mindful feel less stressed, anxious and depressed and I’ve certainly seen the benefit to both myself and for my clients. That said, I’m wary than it can seem another thing on the to do list and that it’s another thing we can give ourselves a hard time over not doing. I’ve also noticed that for many people the barrier to starting being more mindful is the idea of meditating. Whilst you don’t have to be spiritual or have any particular beliefs to meditate, the idea of it can sometimes put people off.
Practicing mindfulness need not be restricted to meditation, there are plenty of ways to be more mindful that are accessible, fun and easy to fit into your routine. The key is to schedule little bits of time when you can and prioritise yourself.
Here are some thoughts and behaviours common in people with low self-esteem. It can be useful to identify which ones resonate with you, knowing as much as we can about our low self-esteem is important because once we identify it, we can take steps to improve it.
Avoidance behaviours – Procrastinating, avoiding certain situations or people, quitting tasks part way through. These sort of behaviours often come from the belief it’s better to have not tried than to have tried and failed. People that display avoidance behaviours may do this to prevent negative thoughts and feelings about themselves being confirmed by events, situations or people.
Perfectionist behaviours – Trying to please others all the time, working excessively hard at everything you do, trying to be 100% in control all of the time, excessive competitiveness, acting angrily if mistakes are made. People with perfectionist behaviour do so because they believe they will feel better about themselves if they are perfect or...
For most people looking to build their self-esteem, the first step is to raise their awareness and understanding of what might be affecting their sense of self-worth. Clients often ask me ‘so now what?’ once they have gained this self-awareness and I can understand their frustration; they’ve done the hard (and often painful) work to understand where their lack of self-esteem stems from but then feel at a loss for how to begin to build their esteem and self-compassion.
Here are some activities you can do to build your self-esteem. The best thing about it is that you can start TODAY.
Accept compliments. How many times has someone complimented what you’re wearing and you’ve said ‘oh this old thing, it’s just from Primark’ or congratulated you for passing an exam and you think ‘I could have done better, I could have got an A’. Don’t sabotage the compliment by talking yourself down, accept it for what it is even if your mind is telling you otherwise. Oh and by the way, when s...
Channel 5 has recently run a reality TV series showing celebrities in therapy with psychotherapist Mandy Saligari. In Episode 2 we see Daniella Westbrook arriving an hour late for her session. Mandy challenges Daniella to consider why she was late to which Daniella reacts defensively (and avoids taking responsibility for it, blaming it on the production crew). Daniella reacts angrily and decides to leave saying she doesn’t understand why this is important to the work. Later, reflecting on the session she looks at what was going on for her and uncovers that she was avoiding uncovering some of the painful feelings that she had been denying and pushing deep down.
This highlights the point that often in therapy we learn something about the way we are from something that goes on in the therapy; either from our behaviour or from our relationship with our therapist.
Whilst in therapy we often place focus on what has happened in our past and the impact that has on the present, but...
To reduce anxiety and be more productive. If we are overwhelmed with everything going on in our lives and the to do list seems never ending, we feel a constant need to be on the go. If we never take time out for ourselves, anxiety builds which in turn makes us less productive. To take some time to ourselves away from external pressures allows us to clear our minds and revitalise body and mind.
To get your priorities straight. By doing the things we enjoy we are able to see what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). Having the breathing space to process this and to experience something that gives us pleasure helps us get perspective on what our priorities are (or could be).
To become more independent. We come into this world alone, we leave this world alone. An old idiom, but true. Spending time alone doing something we enjoy helps us appreciate our own company which can make us feel more confident at being independent.
It can seem almost impossible to be happy with who we are and what we have. We live in a constant stream of advertising, media and societal pressures that tell us how we should dress, what we should look like, how we should behave, what we should own, how much we should earn, what car we should drive (the list goes on…) It can be tough to be happy with who we are and not feel pressure to change.
Our minds tend to dwell on the bad, the things we feel we should change and less on the good. This is entirely logical, in pre-historic times our survival depended on on our ability to be aware of potential threat. Our brains became expert at being constantly alert to danger, in order for us to stay alive. Whilst humanity has evolved a lot since then, our brains are still trained to cling on to the negative things in our lives. It's instinct to focus on the bad, that's why we're much more likely to lie awake at night remembering that embarrassing thing we did at the office party...