In a culture such as ours here in the UK, the idea that you as an individual should be fulfilling your potential and striving for success and therefore happiness is very strong. A-grade exam results, university education, career ladders, housing ladders, even social ladders all drive you in one particular direction.
These are fine in themselves, but what if they don’t make you happy? Where do you find yourself if either you are not able to fit into this system for whatever reason, or you find that even if you are somewhere in this list you have the sense that there’s something more or that it’s just not for you?
Self-esteem is what it says – it’s how you feel about yourself. But how you feel about yourself is either based on how you feel you should be or how you think others say you ought to be. Perhaps others are saying that you aren’t good enough for example, so that’s what you believe about yourself and therefore you try harder to prove to others that you are good enough. This becomes hard when you feel overworked or burnt out.
We all have emotional and psychological needs: to be loved and accepted unconditionally, to have significance, purpose and freedom, and so on. I believe that we each have a natural capacity to grow as a unique individual, despite what other people may think.
If you’re feeling low right now, it may be because the system of beliefs you have about yourself are based on what other people think about you rather than what you think. Counselling can help with this because of the sense of value that you get by being in a quality therapeutic relationship.