Did you know that self esteem can affect feelings of anxiety? Yes, it can! To help understand what type of impact self esteem has on feelings of anxiety and how someone can eliminate feelings of anxiety by increasing their level of self esteem, I have interviewed therapist Kate Daigle, MA, NCC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education with a focus on couples and family counseling. I have a private practice in Central Denver (7th and Clarkson), where I treat individuals, couples, families, and groups. I specialize in eating disorder treatment, and also work with clients dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and those who are recovering from abuse and/or trauma. I use a strengths-based perspective in my philosophy and try to help clients see and utilize the tools they already possess as they work towards recovery. I am respectful of each client’s background, and incorporate honesty and empathy as I help clients work toward their goals. I am a third-generation Denver native and enjoy spending my free time with family, traveling, gardening, reading, and recently, running.”
What influences someone’s level of self-esteem?
“This depends on each individual’s background and present condition, however I feel that you can see some similarities with what contributes to one’s self esteem. I think that we all learn ways of coping and interacting — surviving — through life as we grow and experience new things. We are challenged physically and emotionally, and we must find a way to manage these challenges. We develop patterns of behaving and reacting, and sometimes we can get stuck in these patterns and they can influence the way we perceive ourselves in our environment and as compared to other people. Positive support and reinforcement help us develop strong coping mechanisms and help us consider all sides, but without being able to control our world in entirety, we may feel inferior, insufficient, or feel like there’s something about us that does not quite make the mark with this fast-paced society with increasingly high expectations.
Also, if we are told that we are less than, or that we “can’t do anything right”, we can feel that there is little possibility for finding balance and we can take this personally. Self esteem can be defined as a term that describes our own overall interpretation of our worth. If we are told we are worthless (by ourselves or others), then we will have low self esteem, which is often linked to anxiety and depression.”
What type of impact does self-esteem have on someone’s feelings of anxiety?
“Anxiety stems from feelings of restlessness or discomfort that reflects the way we cope with stress. If we feel we cannot cope well with stress, our anxiety increases. Anxiety is directly linked to self esteem because our perception of our own strengths and tools indicate how we will cope with stress. A certain level of anxiety is common and even healthy. Stress helps motivate us to get things done. However, if we feel worthless, powerless, or incapable of getting things done, which are feelings associated to low self esteem, our anxiety and worry about needing to feel accomplished increases. We also place judgment on ourselves when we have low self esteem, and sitting with a state of not being content with ourselves for some reason increases the feelings of restlessness and anxiety because we may feel we don’t know how or are incapable of doing things that will calm us down.”
How can someone eliminate their feelings of anxiety and increase their levels of self-esteem?
“I am not sure if it is possible to eliminate feelings of anxiety; some of these are genetic and also borne of years of coping in a certain way. We can lower our anxiety and increase our feelings of self esteem and feeling that we are able to move forward and heal by reconnecting with ourselves. Getting to know ourselves better, and adopting a philosophy of compassion and non-judgment can help pave the way towards higher self esteem and less anxiety. This is difficult and the aid of family and friends and a counselor can help alleviate some stress about this. You can try practicing mindfulness exercises, where we learn to notice and appreciate the present moment and our place in it. We can practice breathing exercises, which will naturally lower our body’s state of anxiety. Doing exercises such as yoga and running will help you get more in tune with your mind and body and find a connection between the two that is healing and soothing. Anxiety can be reduced by learning how to sooth ourselves and regulate our emotions. We feel empowered by reinforcing these natural calming abilities, and this raises our self esteem and level of self acceptance.”
What type of professional help is available for someone who is having trouble boosting their self esteem and reducing their feelings of anxiety?
“There is individual and group therapy, among others, available for help with anxiety. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is very effective at lowering anxiety and in turn, raising self esteem. This is where mindfulness is learned, emotion regulation is enforced, and breathing exercises help naturally lower the body and mind’s state of anxiety. Also, it relieves stress to just talk to someone — a nonjudgmental and trained professional — about what thoughts, feelings, and emotions are contributing to anxiety. Feeling like you are being listened to, respected, and accepted just as you are can be miraculous for clients who suffer from feelings of anxiety and low self esteem.”
Thank you Kate for doing the interview on how self esteem affects feelings of anxiety. For more information on Kate Daigle or her work you can check out her website on www.katedaiglecounseling.com.
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