TAKING CARE of yourself is the foundation on
which all other pathways to self-esteem rest.
Without a basic willingness and ability to care
for, love, and nurture yourself, it is difficult
to achieve a deep or lasting experience of

For those of us who have carried a lifelong
sense of insecurity the way to self-worth
involves developing the ability to give yourself
what your parents could not. It's possible to
overcome deficits from your past only by
becoming a good parent to yourself.

Some Causes of Low Self-Esteem

What are some of the childhood circumstances
that can lead one to grow up with feelings of
insecurity of inadequacy?

1. Overly Critical Parents ~ Parents who were
constantly critical or set impossible high
standards of behavior may have left you feeling
guilty; that somehow you could "never be good

2. Significant Childhood Loss ~ If you were
separated from a parent as a result of death or
divorce, you may have been left feeling abandoned
You may have grown up with a sense of emptiness
and insecurity inside that can be restimulated
very intensely by losses of significant people
in your adult life.

3. Parental Abuse ~ Physical and sexual
abuse are extreme forms of deprivation. They
may leave you with a complex mix of feelings,
including inadequacy, insecurity, lack of trust,
guilt, and/or rage. Adults who were physically
abused as children may become perpetual victims
or may themselves develop a hostile posture
toward life, victimizing others. Adults-
-especially men--who were sexually abused
as children sometimes express their rage by
turning to rape and abuse as adults. Or they
may turn that rage inward in deep feelings of
self-loathing and inadequacy. Survivors of
abusive childhood's often, and understandably,
have difficulty with intimate relationships in
their adult lives. While less flagrant,
constant verbal abuse can have equally damaging

4. Parental Alcoholism or Drug Abuse ~ Much has
been written in recent years on the effects of
parental alcoholism on children. Chronic drinking
or substance abuse creates a chaotic, unreliable
family atmosphere in which it is difficult for
a child to develop a basic sense of trust or
security. The attendant denial of the problem,
often by both parents, teaches the child to
deny his or her own feelings and pain connected
to the family situation. Many such children
grow up with poor self-esteem or a poor sense
of personal identify.

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