I’m so excited to have my office featured in FreshPractice. Check out the link below:
When a loved one is suffering from low self-esteem, it’s hard to know what to say. Naturally you want them to see themselves as you see them. You want them to feel joyful about the reality of who they are, not be mired down in the falsities they insist are truths.
In the past, you may have tried showering them with compliments, only to wonder why they never believed a word you said. People with low self-esteem have strong beliefs about themselves. While your compliment may be factually based (“You absolutely deserved that promotion – you worked so hard.”), your loved one’s beliefs will have them instantly dismissing it (“I just got lucky.”).
No matter what you say, and no matter how true it is, they will bat away every compliment you throw at them. There’s a very good reason why they do this. They don’t just have beliefs about themselves, they have emotionally charged beliefs about themselves. Any ideas offered that are contradicting, even well-intentioned and factual compliments, will be met with strong resistance. It’s simply too hard to “argue” with someone with an emotionally-driven belief.
3 Ways to Communicate with Someone with Low Self-Esteem
There are certain techniques therapists typically use when speaking with someone with low self-esteem. You may find these useful when trying to communicate with your own loved one.
1) Agree – Then Disagree
Find something in their statement you can agree with, then put a more positive spin on the rest.
Loved one: “Why do I act like the biggest loser most of the time?”
You: “Well, nobody is perfect (agreement) and I happen to know for a fact you’ve accomplished a lot in your life – more than many people.”
The idea here is to be subtle with positivity so there is no outright contradiction of their belief. You don’t want to turn off your loved one so they never listen to you again, you just want to gently coax them into considering that what you say might possibly, just possibly be true.
2. Use Metaphors
Using metaphors is a great way to present a positive possibility to your loved one without directly contradicting their belief.
Loved one: “At this point in my life, I’m pretty worthless.”
You: “Yeah, it can be really hard knowing your own worth, can’t it? I mean, a beautiful painting can’t possibly know how beautiful it really is, and a ruby doesn’t know how valuable it is.”
Try and change the subject right after offering this counterpoint so it has time to sink in.
3) Reframe Negatives into Positives
This one can be tricky but the idea is to gently reframe negatives into positives. As they say, a knife in the hands of a surgeon is very different from a knife in the hands of a robber.
Here’s a for instance:
Loved one: “My wife says I’m stubborn.”
You: “That’s interesting. In what other ways do you show such determination?”
See what you did there?
When interacting with a loved one with low self-esteem, refrain from blatant compliments and instead try using one or more of the techniques laid out. You may also suggest to your loved one that they speak with a therapist who can help them discover the cause of their self-esteem issues and offer tools to boost it.
If you or a loved one has low self-esteem and is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Whether conducted in the United States or far off lands, many surveys find the number one reason for divorce is poor communication. Beyond having different communication styles, issues often arise when both partners are not comfortable talking about their feelings.
The good news is, talking about feelings is not the only, or even necessarily the best, way for couples to maintain a happy and healthy relationship.
Here are some ideas to improve communication in your own relationship:
Small Talk Offers Big Gains
While you may assume that discussing the impending nor’ easter or last night’s season finale is far from connecting emotionally, the truth is, small talk can positively impact communication even more than discussion about feelings. Many couples find it easier to reconnect over the mundane events of life rather than during a serious discussion, most likely because they each feel safer in the mundane space.
The key is to really engage during these small talk sessions. Be interested and curious. Ask questions. By doing this you let your partner know they matter and you care. In the end, life is woven together by strings of insignificant incidents.
A recent study published in Psychological Science found that partners feel closer to each other when discussing shared experiences. For instance, many spouses can come together when discussing their children, particularly if they are remembering happy moments.
A second study published in Psychological Science uncovered something very interesting! It turns out that words are not even necessary for shared experiences to improve relationships. Silent communication from enjoying an experience can also heal. Doing something together like riding bikes, going to a movie on date night, or even shopping for new lawn chairs can help you reconnect.
Balance Asking and Offering
Good communication is a dance where the man and woman take turns leading. This means sometimes YOU need to offer up the information and share something about yourself. It could be something as simple as what happened to you in line yesterday at Starbucks.
Other times, let your partner share what they want. Be sure to ask questions and actually LISTEN to the answers. If you don’t understand something they’ve said, ask for clarification. This is a wonderful way to show them you care and are fully engaged.
These communication ideas a deceptively simple, but don’t let their simplicity fool you. If you use these techniques you will find your skills improve and your relationship deepens. And, if you feel you need more help in the communication department, seeking guidance from a therapist is a great idea.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Living in San Diego, many of us like to hit one of the local Indian gaming casinos every once in a while to try outsmarting lady luck playing a winning hand of 21. Many of us look forward to attending opening day in Del Mar in our jaunty hats with the hopes of winning an extra couple of bucks by hitting a long shot. These once-in-a-while experiences usually represent a fun way to spend an afternoon and don’t cause financial constraints because they are paid for with discretionary funds.
This isn’t the case, however, for an estimated 1 million Californians who, according to a report by the California Problem Prevalence Study, “experience significant problems related to Gambling.” The same study found an additional “2.2 to 2.7 million California adults are at risk for developing gambling-related problems and juveniles are more likely than adults to develop a gambling addiction.” Another report finds that “problem and pathological gambling in California costs society nearly $1 billion annually (costs associated with crime, unpaid debts and bankruptcy, mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, and public assistance).”
In fact, the problem has become such an issue that the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) has for the first time listed problem gambling as a mental health disorder. The California Council on problem gambling describes “problem gambling as a chronic disorder marked by an uncontrollable urge to gamble. The individual cannot stop gambling despite ever-increasing negative consequences to him- or herself.”
Every day our office sees clients who suffer from this addiction and have hurt themselves financially by creating problems ranging in severity from maxing out credit cards to wiping out their children’s college funds, losing their homes, or even having to file for bankruptcy. The problem doesn’t just impact the addicted person on a financial level, but also strikes an emotional toll. Gambling addiction creates a sense of shame, a need to keep secrets from family members and friends, and can even lead a deep depression that causes some clients to consider suicide.
The great news is that there is hope, and this addiction can be treated no matter how big or small the issue has become. If you or a family member believes there may be an issue with gambling, the next step is to schedule an assessment with me. This assessment will help us determine the extent of your problem and how to best develop a personal treatment plan. I’m here to help, and I will support your journey navigating treatment for this or any other issue you may be dealing with.
Office of Problem Gambling California Department of Health
California Department of Problem Gambling
My husband and I are taking our first trip to Hawaii this week. The trip is being sponsored by his employer, and they are paying the bulk of our expenses – even better! Neither one of us has ever been to Hawaii, and we’re excited about the opportunity to share another “first” together. We have had many “firsts,” including our first date, our first Fall foliage tour, our first vacation, our first anniversary…and the list goes on.
As we prepare for the trip and make our plans, I can’t help but think about the value of time spent together, sharing history, making memories, and connecting with each other away from the hustle and bustle of work and everyday life. The best part is that I get to “hang out” with my best friend. Reminding each other of our favorite moments, laughing at our own inside jokes, or simply sitting in quiet reflection are the types of things that make time away special.
While we revel in the fun of the vacation and the new experiences, we also like the reminders of all of the wonderful moments we’ve spent together. I think this is one of the many things that helps keep us close. We value the memories while we look forward to the opportunities to check things off of our bucket list.
When was the last time you and your special someone looked back at the happy moments, then dreamed about your tomorrows and the adventures you might share together. What would it be like if you took the opportunity to make your own memories by experiencing new “firsts?”
How about this for a challenge: Find something new, something neither one of you has ever done. Plan for it. Get excited about it. Look forward to it. Take the time to enjoy this new experience together. My husband has a saying, “Write a story worth telling your grandchildren.” Maybe you’re too young to have grandchildren right now. Maybe you already do. Either way, make the most of that “first,” and make it a story worth telling!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing with Perry Rosenbloom, founder of Brighter Vision, for a podcast. It was a wonderful experience, and it was great being able to share about my experience with finding a niche and growing my practice.
Take a moment to listen to the podcast. In addition to my interview, there are several other great podcasts you may enjoy!
Thanks for the opportunity to share, Perry!