Something that many people struggle with is their self-esteem, for daughters of alcoholics the illusive self-esteem seems impossible to have. Most of the time the focus has been on the drinker, not yourself. Or at least you’ve focused on the drinker, their consequences and actions and not how you feel about yourself.
Identifying your own feelings again is probably not something you’ve grown up knowing how to do. How you see yourself and what you’ve heard from others has a huge impact on your self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change.
The illusive self-esteem
Why has your self-esteem been affected so much? You may know the answer to this already. Constantly hearing “when are you going to change?” and “you can’t do that”, “pick a job that you can do”, constantly being criticised tends to have an impact.
As with anything, when you hear it repetitively enough and over a long period of time has an impact. A big impact. It creates self-doubt, self-loathing, you start to lose faith and trust in yourself and much more.
If you have lived with a drinker, the likelihood that you received positive support is less likely than other healthier families. You may have had one parent that was really supportive, however that doesn’t always counteract the damage done by the drinker.
Why do you have low self-esteem?
There are all sorts of reasons that the illusive self-esteem has escaped you. What messages have you heard? Has someone in your life made you doubt yourself? Feel like you aren’t good enough?
Maybe some of these examples sound familiar:
You’re not brainy enough to do that
That’s not good enough
Why do you keep letting me down
You’re a waste of space
Sometimes it’s not always what someone has said, but what they don’t say or do that can make you feel low about yourself. Maybe you have been made to feel you aren’t capable, you’re good for nothing.
You may also find yourself saying negative things to yourself, that you believe to be true:
I’m a failure
I’m not good enough
You can look at anything and see it as a bad thing, if someone has said negative things to you, it doesn’t mean it’s fact. Often people say things from their own fears, their own limited beliefs and experiences. If someone grew up believing that black people were bad, they’ll start to believe that. When in actual fact it’s rubbish.
That said, the person that taught you whatever it is you believe about yourself, did so from a place of fear and projecting their own insecurities onto you. You’ve been living your life based on a non-truth. How has that non-truth affected your life? Do you want it to continue?
Many people live this way so you aren’t alone. The words and actions of others have an impact and consequences, and it’s up to us to decide as adults if we want to continue believing what others think of us.
What can you do to help your self-esteem?
There are so many resources out there for self-esteem, find what you feel is comfortable for you. The resources and guides etc that I put together are done with families of alcoholics and daughters of alcoholics in mind.
My self-esteem was very low and after hearing what my Dad said to me and feeling his disappointment, I know how not valuing yourself and feeling broken feels. To feel that you are a bad person and not worthy of love or affection.
The main thing I would recommend is to be really clear about how you see yourself, until you know that it’s hard to work on what you want to change. Think about what keeps you stuck and limits your life, look at the definition above to help you.
I’ve done a “affirmation bath” which is a lovely audio file where I share lots of positive affirmations. You just have to sit down, relax and let it all sink in. Click here to have a listen.
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If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Daughters of Alcoholics Facebook group, where other daughters of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
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