Jessica Klein, LCSW, Psychotherapist
Growing & Supporting Self-Worth
How we regard ourselves and what we believe we deserve impacts every aspect of our lives. Self-esteem, or essentially the deeply seated value that we place upon ourselves, is a complex interaction of past experiences (were you consistently shamed or, conversely, affirmed?) relationships (warm, loving relationships vs demeaning, shaming relationships) and how we are able to show up in the present moment and engage our resilience. The good news is that low self-value is not permanent, and that our relationship to ourselves is ever changing.
In the psychotherapy process, when we work to affect change and shift long standing patterns related to self-value, we engage in something called neuroplasticity, helping to change the firing and wiring of the brain. Our brain is extremely adaptable and “what fires together wires together,” an axion coined by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb regarding neuroplasticity. In this process of shifting neural networking, we can change long standing beliefs by shifting our thinking patterns.
In therapy, we engage this shift in a variety of ways. If we are working to change patterning around self-worth, we’ll explore past experiences, particularly any adverse or traumatic life experiences, to understand these, and process them, so that the associations can be shifted. Because memory changes each time we re-engage the memory, part of the work of shifting deep internal patterning, is looking at what’s arising with honesty, and then slowly processing this information while not overwhelming the your nervous system. This can be done through gently exploring the content while using specific tools such as EMDR, mindfulness, visualization, and cognitive strategies.