Fulfillment at Any Age

How to remain productive and healthy into your later years

Build Your Self-Esteem with These 3 Simple Exercises

Feelings of self-worth are central to your mental health. However, maintaining your self-esteem can be a challenge when other people are rude, insulting, or critical of you. Practicing these 3 simple exercises will help inoculate against those threats to your sense of worth and help you gain self-understanding in the process. Read More

Self Esteem

It's not very often I comment on a post but this article is very well written and we could all enhance our lives by following these 3 simple exercises.

You forgot one (IMHO)

4. Stay far, far away from any mental health professional who wants to pathologize you via the medical model. While it can be helpful (if done in a positive way) to identify those coping mechanisms or personality characteristics that are dysfunctional or cause distress, so that one can improve upon them, and therefore improve upon one's overall functionality, being labeled as having a mental disease, illness, or disorder can have a devastating effect on one's self-esteem. For me, once labelled, I began to identify with that label. I became that disease, illness or disorder. I've had NINE different diagnoses over the years by different clinicians, each one more distressing than the next. With each one, I would read about it and began to assume not just some, but ALL of the symptoms, saying to myself, "Oh, that's what I am." Ultimately, I came to see myself as irreparably "broken," until I decided later in my life that I was not those diseases, illnesses, or disorders, that I had NUMEROUS positive qualities and coping mechanisms and was actually quite resilient, despite some dysfunctional attributes.

As for number three on your list, my experience has been (over 50 years) that people are "fair weather" friends. They don't want to be with you or talk with you when you are grieving or depressed (unless you pay them money). It "drags them down." When I am grieving or depressed, I find that my so-called friends avoid me like the plague. They may text or call once in awhile to "check in," but if I respond honestly that I am in need of someone to talk to or go with me somewhere to get out of the house, they suddenly have a crushingly busy calendar and will let me know when they might be free. I then don't hear from them for weeks. They will check in again at some point, and I know that if I want some company, I will have to lie about my current state of mind if I am still grieving or depressed, and I will have to "fake it" through a conversation or social outing. Sadly, this has been a consistent theme throughout my life, not isolated instances. Over time, it has simply reinforced that people I consider friends will not actually be there for me when I need them, as they only like me when I am positive and funny and fun to be with.

It does drag people down

You can't rely on people to hold you up when you're depressed. Depression is often contagious, and so are negative attitudes.
While I do think friends should be there for you when you're grieving, there's only so much sadness most people can handle. That's when it's time to sit with a professional instead of using your friends as a therapist.

It sounds like you expect too much from people. They have their own issues, and maybe some of them live on a thin line of happiness or deal with their own depression. They could easily be pulled under by your moods and expectations.

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Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.

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