Any time I ask a client to list things they like about themselves, especially looks wise, it is painfully difficult for them. They can usually squeeze out two or three things, but feel uncomfortable even mentioning those. However, when I flip the question and ask to list the things they DISLIKE, well, that is when the floodgates open.
Unfortunately, it seems more common for people to struggle with accepting their looks than it is to embrace their body and self image. And we seem to have created this “norm” that disliking ourselves is acceptable, as long as we don’t “hate” ourselves or do anything too drastic (i.e. starve ourselves, purge, etc).
So when does a low self-esteem go from “normal” to problematic?
1. You obsess with your appearance to the point of disruption of daily life.
Sure, you may not think you have the greatest nose, or may even dislike your complexion, but if you find yourself constantly analyzing, criticizing and examining yourself, or one specific area, this could be a sign of a bigger problem. An example of this disrupting your life is if your obsession with your appearance keeps you from going out in social situations or makes you late to outings because you’re so preoccupied with examining yourself.
2. The constant belief that you are ugly or dis-formed.
Who doesn’t like to receive a compliment, right? However, you may be struggling with a body image issue if you have a consistent need to get reassurance from other people, and you even find yourself finding ways to receive that reassurance. Or, on the opposite end, no matter what anyone says positively to you, you don’t believe it.
3. Your self-image has caused you anxiety.
Again, everyone at some point or another is going to dislike something about their appearance. Even the most confident people have off days, but there is usually not severe anxiety tied to it.
These symptoms are all signs of a disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder that can possibly lead to anorexia, bulimia, or other harmful behaviors.
Whether you are struggling from a “normal” low self-esteem or body dysmorphic disorder, then you can and should receive help. Contact a qualified mental health counselor that specializes in these issues to change negative behaviors and find a healthier lifestyle. It’s not too minor to seek out counsel and it’s never too late.
If you are struggling with low self-esteem, Life Counseling Solutions can help! Call today (407)-622-1770 for a complimentary 15-minute consultation or to schedule an appointment!
Author: DeAnn MacCloskey