Self-Esteem and the Brain

Women often abuse themselves through negative self-talk. (Gray, John, PhD. Men, Women and Relationships. p 123. OR: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1990, 1993.)

Self-actualization is the joyous expression of the developed self and its gifts, including its natural preference and level of introversion or extraversion. Self-actualization is not possible in the presence of Falsification of Type. (Benziger, Katherine, PhD. Thriving in Mind – The art and science of using your whole brain. TX: KBA Publishing, 2000.)

Self-esteem problems is a symptom that has been identified as part of the Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome or PASS. Self-esteem levels can fall as the brain becomes exhausted from living a false type. A perceived diminished overall success in life can throw one’s sense of self off. The other symptoms are hypervigilance, immune system alterations, memory impairment, altered brain chemistry, diminished frontal lobe functions, and discouragement and/or depression. (Benziger, K., PhD. Thriving in Mind: The Art and Science of Using Your Whole Brain. p Introduction, 266-272. IL: KBA, 2009.)

Even when individuals have been adapting, their authentic self has always been there; just been buried so deeply they didn’t know how to access it. A person’s self-concept needs to be cleaned up and rid of all the junk and misinformation that has been internalized for years. A distorted life feels more and more natural the longer you live it. Put another way, a lie unchallenged soon becomes the truth. (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters, Creating Your Life From the Inside Out. p 42, 96, 186. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Many addictions are related to low self-esteem. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 104-105. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Low levels of self-esteem can result in anxiety, despair, isolation, and fear of rejection. Many quirks of addictive thinking are simply psychological defenses against these painful feelings. (Twerski, Abraham, MD. Addictive Thinking. p 14-18. CA: Harper & Row, 1990.)

Refer to Addictive Behaviors and the Brain for additional information.

Imagination is the ability to consciously create a picture in your mind, repeat it, and have things turn out as imagined. It is important for positive thinking. (Siebert, Al, PhD. The Survivor Personality. p 68-70. NY: A Perigee Book, 1996.)

You can instruct and guide your subconscious simply by talking to it. People can become what they repeatedly tell themselves they are. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 27-30. CA: Biomed General. 2007.)

The fastest way to get positive results is to look at yourself in the mirror and verbally affirm yourself. (Hay, Louise L. You Can Heal Your Life. p 50-62. CA: Hay House, Inc., 1984.)

Refer to Affirmation and the Brain for additional information.

People who age successfully exercise both mind and body. They never retire from self-improvement and intellectual challenges. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 74. CA: Biomed General. 2007.)

Refer to Aging and the Brain for additional information.

Your habitual attitudes form neural circuits in the brain. If you choose to maintain a specific attitude, the brain can literally rewire itself to facilitate that attitude. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 195-196. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

It is dangerous to put another person on a pedestal or stay there when others try to put you there. You cannot give another the self-esteem that is lacking. (Schaeffer, Brenda. Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? p 86-88. CA: Harper & Row, 1987.)

One’s sense of self-concept is stored in multiple areas of the brain. A real shift in self-esteem requires shifting multiple environmental triggers. Going back into the same environment often triggers previous perceptions/behaviors. (Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. p 127-128. VA: ASCD, 1991.)

Images and scripts from moving images (e.g., television, movies, videos, computer games) can actually become part of one’s brain (e.g., physically materialized), changing its biological structure and impacting one’s health. (Benson, Herbert, MD, with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing. p 78-80. NY: Scribner, 1996.)

Self-esteem is built through encouragement, not pressure. (Wright, H. Norman. Always Daddy's Girl. p 105-110. CA: Regal Books, 2989.)

Research has shown that self-esteem is astonishingly resistant to change… It is a byproduct emerging from: what took place in our life growing up, what we have experienced in life as adults, and our recent thoughts and actions. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. p 24-26. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

A person with a low self-image tends to exhibit several of the following traits:

  • A person-pleaser
  • A leg-chopper (cuts others down)
  • Very protective
  • External (looks outside of self for worth)
  • Perfectionistic

(Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. p 208-209. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

To develop optimum self-esteem you need to identify messages you received about yourself from early childhood and compare them with what you are learning about yourself in the present. (Taylor, Arlene, R., PhD, and Lorna Lawrence, PhD. Thresholds to Thriving. p 34. CA: Success Resources International, 1995 and 1998.)

Women often think and act in ways because of the messages they have received from their own family upbringing and culture. When they place themselves at the bottom of the totem pole, they follow the dictates of the generations-old Female Code of Conduct. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. p 34-36. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

Experiences of life are stored as memories in synaptic circuits, and can profoundly effect us for years. Therapy is a learning experience and involves changes in synaptic connections. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 262. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Boys have more difficulty coping with parents’ marital breakup. Effects are more intense and last longer (e.g., lowered scholastic achievement, depression, anger, diminished self-esteem, increased drug/alcohol use). (Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. p 110-112.NY: Simon & Schuster, 1986.)

The conflict between the need to be accurate and the desire to feel good about yourself is one of the major battlegrounds of the self. The way in which this battle is won strongly influences how you feel about yourself. (Wilson, Timothy D. Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. p 39-40. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

Self-esteem is your emotional opinion of yourself, how you feel about yourself as a person. People with strong-self-esteem are less vulnerable to the negative opinions of others. (Siebert, Al, PhD. The Survivor Personality. p 144-145. NY: A Perigee Book, 1996.)

Self-esteem is a set of amorphous feelings about how much we like, value, and approve of ourselves. At its core, self-esteem is all about feelings. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. p 22-23. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

Self-image, your mental blueprint and the foundation of your behavior and personality, is the key to health and success. It determines what is possible or impossible, what you can or cannot accomplish. You can rewrite your mental blueprint through the use of affirmations. (Fox, Arnold, MD, and Barry Fox, PhD. Wake Up! You’re Alive! p 77-81. FL: Health Communications, 1988.)

Before and after birth we are continually receiving impressions about ourselves from other people and the environment. We interact with those impressions and decide how much we will absorb or allow those impressions to affect us. The sum total of those impressions and how we accept them become our self-image. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. p 205-206. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Your “self,” the essence of who you are, reflects patterns of interconnectivity between neurons in your brain. Connections between neurons, known as synapses, are the main channels of information flow and storage in the brain. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 2. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Characteristics of the emotionally intelligent person include: able to recognize and express emotions, possess positive self regard, interdependent without becoming dependent, optimistic, realistic, flexible, fairly successful in solving problems/coping with stress without losing control. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 12-13. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Emotional intelligence as consists of three psychological dimensions: emotional sensitivity, emotional maturity, and emotional competency. These dimensions motivate individuals to maximize productivity, manage change, and resolve conflicts. Emotional competency is characterized by high levels of self-esteem. (Singh, Dalip, PhD. Emotional Intelligence at Work. NY: Sage, 2000, Summary)

Refer to Emotional Intelligence and the Brain for additional information.

The term emotional debt reflects an inability to process feelings of the moment as well as the record of the person’s unique history. A high emotional debt reveals low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem are more likely to hold on to negative emotions. (Viscott, David. MD. Emotional Resilience. p 282-286. NY: Crown Publishers Inc., 1996.)

Refer to Emotions and Feelings for additional information.

Suppressing who you were meant to be is like trying to hold a beach ball under the water with one hand while trying to push a boulder uphill with the other. This drains life energy that you could otherwise spend on what you are really all about. (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters, Creating Your Life From the Inside Out. p 32. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Virtually no energy is wasted when all components of a system are operating in harmony – are coherent. Positive emotional states create coherence within the human system. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Body energy is closely connected with one’s mental images. What you think, you become. Create and concentrate on positive images and old ones will fade and lose power. (Schaeffer, Brenda. Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? p 138-140. CA: Harper & Row, 1987.)

Refer to Energy and the Brain for additional information.

All children are born with a unique self, but some have families that require conformity. Many smart and sensitive children understand what is expected of them early in life (e.g., by three or four). If what is expected doesn’t match who the child is, self-esteem can fall. (Steinem, Gloria. Revolution From Within, a Book of Self-Esteem. p 206-208. NY: Little, Brown, and Company, 1992.)

Studies: Extraverts tend to report higher levels of self-esteem. (Swickert, R., Hittner, J. B., Kitos, N., & Cox-Fuenzalida, L. E. (2004). "Direct or indirect, that is the question: A re-evaluation of extraversion's influence on self-esteem." Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 207–217.)

One extreme form of low gain (extraversion) is sensation seeking. Sensation seekers want more of everything (e.g., sex, sexual partners, drugs, physically risky activities such as parachuting). (Ornstein, Robert, PhD. The Roots of the Self. p 57. NY: HarperCollins Publishing, 1995.)

Refer to Extraversion-Ambiversion-Introversion for additional information.

Fear of change, even positive change, is a powerful restraint. The thought of deviating from the narrow path of fixed beliefs and the life script that contains them can be unbearable for some people. (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters, Creating Your Life From the Inside Out. p 238. p 50-51. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

A poor self-image contributes to guilt and fear. With goodly amounts of self-esteem, you can admit your mistakes and failings without undue guilt. When you have self-love, you also have self-confidence and the future is inviting, not fearful. (Fox, Arnold, MD, and Barry Fox, PhD. Wake Up! You’re Alive! FL: Health Communications, 1988.)

Forgiveness rules your self-esteem. When you don’t forgive you hold a self-destructive grudge. Forgiveness creates self-acceptance. You accept that you have weaknesses and you don’t need to conceal them. Instead you use your awareness of your shortcoming to be sure you do your best. You know you can fail but realize that no single failure can define your worth as a person. When you are at peace with yourself you can accept your limitations without condemning yourself. You treat past experiences and events of the present as independent events and you learn from everything rather than feeling cheated when something goes wrong. (Viscott, David, MD. Emotional Resilience. p 283-284. NY: Crown Publishing Group, 1996.)

Refer to Forgiveness/Forgiving for additional information.

Optimum levels of self-esteem are equally important to males and females but are impacted by different factors: by affiliative success in females and by occupational success in males. (Moir, Anne, and David Jessel. Brain Sex. p 166.NY: Carol Publishing Group, 1989, 1991.)

Refer to Gender Differences for additional information.

At times of stress it is easy for a woman with low self-esteem to adjust her behavior and speech in relating to others but more difficult to change her feelings. (Gray, John, PhD. Men, Women and Relationships. p 112. OR: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1990-1993.)

Sociologists Ronald Kessler and James McRae, Jr. found that although married women who were employed tended to enjoy better mental health than homemakers, the husbands of employed wives tended to have lower-self-esteem and more symptoms of depression than husbands of homemakers. (Tanenbaum, Joe. Male & Female Realities. p 147. NV: Robert Erdmann Publishing, 1990.)

The wife is more likely to recognize that the relationship is in trouble. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 275-276. NY: Random House, 1999.)

Study: dependence on her husband for success may reduce a wife’s feelings of worth, especially if she is well educated and able to earn her own rewards. Nonworking housewives with attractive, high-status husbands felt less adequate than married professional women. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. p 46-48. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Men’s self-esteem is more career related. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Superwoman Syndrome. p 33-46. NY: Warner Books, 1984.)

It is a male with a fragile sense of self-esteem who tends to leer and ogle, pat and pinch, grab, squeeze, and threaten. These males are attempting to prove to themselves over and over again that they are strong and superior. (Brothers, Joyce, PhD. What Every Woman Should Know About Men. p 130-132. NY: Ballantine Books 1981.)

Males are more likely to break up with a woman who makes them jealous than vice versa. In reacting to jealousy, males usually seek to repair their injured self-esteem; women seek to repair the relationship itself. (Stump, Jane Barr, PhD. What’s the Difference? p 108-109. NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985.)

When the husband is unhappy then the couple is unhappy, but a wife’s unhappiness does not seem to transfer to her husband in the same way. Males generally say that they are satisfied with their marriage if their overall life is going well. Marriage is secondary to a man’s self-esteem but primary to woman’s. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. p 184-185. IL: David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Typically the male’s sense of self-worth has come from arenas of combat, where he has struggled on the job ladder, competed in sports, vied in entertainment, or fought in politics. If cooperating becomes more desirable than competition, then the male’s main source of esteem will have been undermined. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. p 13. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.,1978.)

Studies by sociologists Ronald Kessler and James McRae, Jr.: Although married women who were employed tended to enjoy better mental health than homemakers, the husbands of employed wives tended to have lower-self-esteem and more symptoms of depression than husbands of homemakers. (Tanenbaum, Joe. Male & Female Realities. p 147. NV: Robert Erdmann Publishing, 1990.)

Males tend to define their self-worth by their achievement and problem-solving abilities. Females sometimes just want to listened to rather than be given solutions. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 32-36. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Most homosexual orientation develops during gestation. Patterns tend to be firmly in place by age 5. Discusses lack of success of change therapies (e.g., push bisexuals to confine behaviors to opposite sex only, or enforce celibacy, or push the individuals to attempt suicide). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 171-186. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

The trauma of growing up gay in a world that is run primarily by straight men is deeply wounding in a unique and profound way. Straight men have other issues and struggles that are no less wounding, but they are quite different from those of a gay man. ( Downs, Alan, PhD. The Velvet Rage. Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. p 5-6. NY: Da Capo Press, 2005. 2006.)

Refer to Sexual Orientation and the Brain for additional information.

Jealously is most likely to occur in people with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, and in those who want a relationship to be rather exclusive. Jealously is most likely to occur in males who think that males should have more sexual freedom than females. Jealousy is likely to appear in a woman who places a relationship in a position of great importance, outweighing any other part of her life. In reacting to jealousy, males usually seek to repair their injured self-esteem; women seek to repair the relationship itself. (Stump, Jane Barr, PhD. What’s the Difference? p 108-109. NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985.)

Laughing at oneself can be a way of accepting and respecting oneself. Lack of a sense of humor is directly related to lower self esteem. Laughter can enhance one’s level of self-esteem. (Humor and Laughter: Health Benefits and Online Sources.)

A sense of humor can enhance self-esteem. Being able to laugh at yourself (as opposed to ridicule) indicates a healthy level of self-worth. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 541-560. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Lack of a sense of humor is directly related to lower self esteem. (Humor and Laughter: Health Benefits and Online Sources.)

Louis Franzini, PhD, author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child's Sense of Humor: laughter is critical to a child’s development. It plays n important role in stress diffusion, developing self-esteem, learning to problem solve, and honing social skills. (Abedon, Emily Pearlman. Why Laughter Is a Sign of Learning.)

There is a connection between self-esteem and humor. Study: Self-esteem is enhanced as patients use more stage 3 humor (Stage 1: ridicule own inadequacies, Stage 2: direct hostile laughter at others, Stage 3: laugh at their own shortcomings in a confident nonthreatening manner). (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. p 65-70. PA: Rodale Press, 1992.)

Humor can be useful in addiction therapy to help express negative emotions in a positive light and relieve feelings of despair and hopelessness. Humor doesn’t necessarily build self-esteem but an ability to laugh at oneself can be crucial in the basic recovery stages. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking.p 104-105. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Refer to Laughter and the Brain for additional information.

According to Louis Franzini, PhD, author of Kids Who Laugh - How to Develop Your Child's Sense of Humro: laughter is critical to a child’s development. It plays n important role in stress diffusion, developing self-a, learning to problem solve, and honing social skills.(Abedon, Emily Pearlman. Why Laughter Is a Sign of Learning.)

Refer to Learning and Brain for additional information.

Research by psychologist Bernice L. Neugarten related to adult development and aging identified the most important factor in healthy aging as one’s personal perspective of life satisfaction. Five crucial ingredients were: Enjoyment of daily activities, a positive mind-set (optimism), a positive and worthwhile self-image, a belief that one’s life has meaning, and satisfactory achievement of major goals. (Neugarten, Bernice L. The Meanings of Age. Selected Papers. MI: University of Chicago Press, 1996.)

A personal high sense of self-esteem (without needing to prove to others that you love yourself) is a characteristic of mature love. (Schaeffer, Brenda. Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? p 86-88. CA: Harper & Row, 1987.)

We eventually become the products of the mental images we entertain about ourselves. We can imagine ourselves already in possession of the things we want. This will change the brain. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 47-52. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Body energy is closely connected with one’s mental images. What you think, you become. Create and concentrate on positive images and old ones will fade and lose power. (Schaeffer, Brenda. Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? p 138-140. CA: Harper & Row, 1987.)

Positive imagery can reinforce positive thought patterns and make them more effective. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. p 392-393. PA: Rodale Press, 1992.)

There are two types of mental imagery: preverbal (acts upon one’s own physical being to change its physiological activity); transpersonal (the consciousness of one person can affect the physiological activity of another). (Healing Words. p 65-69. NY: HarperPaperbacks, 1993.)

The quality of perseverance is associated with high levels of self-worth. Individuals with low levels of self-esteem are more likely to give up. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 102. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

Is important to limit time spent with pessimistic people. To accomplish something that demands determination and endurance, surround yourself with others who possess these qualities. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 36-38. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Pornography can be psychologically damaging to both males (e.g., can affect performance expectations) and females (e.g., can damage self-esteem). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 218-220. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Self-image, your mental blueprint and the foundation upon which your behavior/personality are built, is the key to health and success. It determines what is possible or impossible, what you can or cannot accomplish. It is possible to rewrite your mental blueprint by using affirmations. (Fox, Arnold, MD, and Barry Fox, PhD. Wake Up! You’re Alive! p 77-80. FL: Health Communications, 1988.)

The conscious mind may be sabotaged by the more powerful subconscious mind (self-destructive behaviors) as a direct result of early negative childhood programming. The more “you can’t messages you got as a child,” the more “you can’t” experiences you may be having in adulthood. (Lipton, Bruce, PhD, and Robert M. Williams, MA. Mind or Genes: What Controls Your Life?)

The self that now runs your life It is the result of key events that you have experienced in your life (external factors) and a process of reaction and interpretation that happens internally (internal factors). (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters, Creating Your Life From the Inside Out. p 43. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Four general characteristics of healthy families: high self image for each person, direct/clear/specific/honest communication, flexible and appropriate rules, unafraid to relate to society. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. p 114-115. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

The difference between self-revelation and self-fabrication is crucial to enhance self-knowledge. Inferring our internal states from our behavior is a good strategy if it reveals feelings of which we were previously unaware. It is not such a good strategy if it results in the fabrication of new feelings. Self-fabrication would not be an issue if people were adept at knowing exactly why they behaved the way they did. (Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. p 206. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

No one knows you better than you know yourself. Much of this self-knowledge is stored in the unconscious. It is possible to tap into this reserve of knowledge. (Fontana, David, PhD. Teach Yourself to Dream. p 128-129. CA: Chronicle Books, 1997.)

Excessive shame results in the child experiencing hypoarousal, the opposite of excitement and playfulness. A dampening of pleasure can foster low self-esteem. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 197-198. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Healthy shame reminds us that we’re human and that we can learn a better way when we have made a mistake. False shame promotes hopeless, helplessness, feelings of inadequacy/lose self-esteem and encourages us to believe that we ourselves are a mistake. (Taylor, Arlene, PhD and Lorna Lawrence, PhD. Thresholds to Thriving. p 75. CA: Success Resources International, 1995 and 1998.)

A shorthand term for being intelligent about our relationships and also in them. It involves acting wisely in relationships with other humans. (Goleman, Daniel Jay, PhD. Social Intelligence. p 11-12. NY: Bantam Dell. 2006.)

There could be no greater stress than that generated by denying your authentic self. It diverts life energy and compromises you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Denying who you really are can kill you. If you add up the number of years that might be lost because of stress and living in the fictional self, it would be 32 years. (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters, Creating Your Life From the Inside Out. p 32-36. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Refer to Stress and the Brain for additional information.

Refer to the 20:80 Rule for additional information.

Images and scripts from moving images (e.g., television, movies, videos, computer games) can actually become part of one’s brain (e.g., physically materialized), changing its biological structure and impacting one’s health. (Benson, Herbert, MD, with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing. p 78-80. NY:Scribner, 1996.)

Refer to Television – Videos and the Brain for additional information.

You choose your own thoughts, the ones you hang onto. You can choose to think a positive or negative thought. You can refuse to think specific thoughts. (Hay, Louise L. You Can Heal Your Life. p 11-13. CA: Hay House, Inc., 1984.)

Seven characteristics of individuals in toxic relationships include: anxiety, helplessness, hostility, frustration, depression, cynicism, and low self-esteem. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 343-348. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

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