Many people young and old, male and female, struggle with recognizing their self-worth and their true potential in life. Often we are our worst critics. Most of us would gasp in horror if we heard another person speak out loud the thoughts we tell ourselves because it would be considered abusive!
Recently, as I was speaking to a group of young people and their parents on the topic of self-esteem, we broke down the definition of what self-esteem truly means. This is an interesting concept and I think helpful to break down into segments.
- To esteem something is to hold it in high regard, to treasure it, to value it.
- The self is you, the individual
How amazing it would be to think of your self in this manner. Is it possible to hold yourself in high regard, to value yourself, and to treasure it – i.e. to treasure you, the real you?
Did you know that Cosmopolitan Magazine has a regular marriage column? I didn’t know until I interviewed with the talented and witty writer Kristina Grish, who chronicles the ups and downs of her own marriage in her monthly Cosmo “Love, For Keeps” column.
Check out page 122 of Dec. Issue (yes, the one with the lovely and insanely talented Taylor Swift on the cover) or download the pdf below.
Body-image issues are more widespread than ever and effecting children at a much younger age. 80-percent of American 10-year-old girls have been on a diet, according to a recent study from upworthy.com.
Ways to combat body obsession in young girls
1. Model a healthy body image
Be aware of your negative comments about your own body and the impact they could be making on your children. Acknowledge that your behavior and that you are working on focusing on the positive.
Q: I’m pretty sure I have depression, I mean I have most of the symptoms. But I have nobody to talk to me and my mum aren’t close. I cant see a doctor without my mum finding out. So I think I should go to one of my teachers but I don’t know how to start the conversation and what to say. I think I really need help because I’ve been self harming for over 2-3 months now. Please help. (13 year old girl)
A: Thank you so much for writing in for help. You are wise to recognize that you need to talk with someone about your pain and reach out for help. If you have a trusted teacher at school, or a school counselor, they may able to help you find a way to talk to your mom about your struggle with depression and self-harm.
If it seems a little easier to talk to your mother about physical health concerns you may want to try asking your mom to take you to your physician by saying something like, “I haven’t been feeling well for a while. Will you take me to the doctor?” Your doctor will be able to do a depression screening, rule out any physical illness, and give you some recommendations for therapists in your area.
I would recommend individual therapy to address your depression and self-harm, and family therapy to help you and your mom communicate better.
If you can’t talk to your mom, please talk to someone soon. Depression is treatable. You don’t have to continue to suffer.
Please, take good care of yourself.
Julie Hanks was interviewed by WCCO Radio in Minnesota discussing therapists’ new approach To Stop the Whining in therapy. Hear why Julie believes whining is bad for an individual and listen to suggestions for dealing with someone who whines too much.
Getting remarried is a happy and exciting time for many couples, filled with renewed hope and possibilities. However, what many couples don’t realize is that starting a new step family can also be very difficult, complete with an enormous set of challenges and transitions that none of them saw coming. In fact, about 60% of remarriages eventually end in divorce, because step families have no idea how to navigate through these unexpected challenges. So, how can your step family fall into the other 40%? The following suggestions can help you get started in the right direction:
Q: My best friend is suicidal and I want to know if there is anything I can do to help her. She has already told her parents but they really aren’t doing anything to stop her. I have told a teacher at our school and the counselor but all they do is recommend seeing a psychiatrist. I am really worried about her she almost always has cuts all over her body arms, legs, and stomach. Her mother has been in and out of prison even before she was born. Her mother is also in right now and has been since she was 7. In the past few years she has had a lot happen, she lost her grandmother on her dad’s side two days before Christmas in 2008. Right after that she moved from a big house to a small one and in the process lost connection with her former best friend. Many of her animals outside died and she sat with one of her cats and had to watch it die after it got attacked by a dog. This past year she had her aunt on her dad’s side die and lost a lot of her friends. She also found out that her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by four different psychiatrists and borderline personality disorder by one or two. We were in seventh grade this year and for most of the second semester she was labeled a whore because of how she dresses and who hangs out with. This past summer is also when the cutting started it started off pretty bad but not frequent. It then went to minor burns and small scratches and then blew up again to bad cuts and they were very frequent. At the current moment she only has scars but is thinking about cutting herself again. I would just like an idea of what I could say to her to get her not to cut anymore. Thank you for taking the time to read this (and respond if you do).
A: First of all, your friend is lucky to have such a mature and concerned friend like you. For 13 years old, you are wise to get some advice on how to handle this serious situation. You mentioned that your friend is suicidal. Has she told you that she has plans to end her life or are you suspecting that she is suicidal because of her cutting behavior? Often intentional self-harm, or parasuicidal behavior, is a cry for help without an intention to die. The two are related but don’t necessarily go together.
Does your friend acknowledge that she needs help to address her cutting? If so, she may want to ask her parents to take her to their family doctor. Sometimes parents are more willing to take their child to get “medical” help than “mental” help. Also, have you talked to your parents or guardian about this situation and asked for their help and advice? It may be a good idea to sit down with your friend and both sets of parents and express your love and concern and see how you and your parents can support your friend. Another possible resource is Childhelp national hotline. You can tell them about your concerns with your friend and they will identify resources in your area.
If your friend’s parents are fully aware that their daughter is cutting and in need of psychological intervention and they refuse to get their daughter the treatment she needs, then this may be a case of medical neglect requiring or your parents to report the situation to child protective services. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Thank you again for writing in to Ask the Therapist.
Take good care of yourself.
Okay, so recently I started getting therapy for a few issues in my life and I have this therapist. Obviously, it’s their job to listen and what not, but it’s such a new thing for me to have someone listen and understand!! I have normal relationships and what not, but I don’t talk about what’s going on in my life. And well, like I said, this therapist, he listens!! And I don’t know how it started, but now I’m attracted to him and think about him all the time. Yikes! And I had therapy the other day and I was feeling a bit awkward sometimes because in my head I was thinking about him sexually!! And he was right there in front of me. Not good but so good at the same time! But yeah nothing will happen anyway because 1. he’s my therapist and that goes against code and 2. he’s married anyway. But it doesn’t stop me from thinking about him that way. I don’t know if I have control over my actions but don’t want to lose him as a therapist! And if I ask him for help about it, I guess I probably will. I can’t ask anyway… too awkward. And I don’t want to start again with a new therapist. So please give me some ideas! Oh, and if this helps in anyway, I have bipolar…. but I guess I’m not the first person in the world to be attracted to my therapist so maybe it doesn’t! (18 year old female who recently started therapy)
A: How wonderful that you are able to open up to your therapist and feel listened to. You are not alone in having a sexual attraction to your therapist and there’s a name for it — erotic transference — and it’s actually a quite common experience in therapy. Transference can be worked through in the therapeutic relationship and that process can help you experience and resolve the deeper issues in your life. I hear that you are afraid of losing this relationship if you disclose your feelings to your therapist and that you’ll have to start all over. Assuming your therapist is skilled and experienced, he will be able to help you work through this attraction. Start slow in sharing your feelings. Let him know that you’re scared to share these feelings and that you want help to understand what they really mean. When sharing your transference with your therapist, remember that your feelings are information about your deeper emotional longings, wounds, and needs, and are not about your actual relationship with your therapist. You’ll get through this. Thanks again for having the courage to write to “Ask the Therapist.”
Take good care of yourself!