Self-help books are a big thing. And their success and popularity is evidence enough to know that they are beneficial and really do help some people. I have delved into several self-help books over the years, some have been helpful but others come with a huge personal barrier
I really struggle with low self-esteem and a therapist suggested reading Overcoming Low Self-Esteem by Melanie Fennell.
So I gave it a go.
The book quickly introduces us to a number of case studies, presumably real. Briony whose parents were killed when she was 7; Rajiv whose father constantly put him down and told him he was not good enough when he was growing up; Evie who was very body-conscious and developed eating disorders; Jack who became a target of his parents’ anger and frustration; Aaron who grew up in poverty and his family were social outcasts. You get the idea.
I assume the reason for doing this is to allow us (the reader) to understand what causes low self-esteem in the real world, and perhaps to be able to relate.
I find this incredibly difficult. My best friend died when I was 13 and I never addressed this grief. But I cannot compare this to a 7 year old who lost both her parents. My own parents were very loving; I grew up in a loving household; I have always had plenty of opportunities; wide social circles; and it is hard to say that I didn’t have a ‘good’ childhood. The loss of my best friend and grandparents being the only real ‘difficulties’ that I experienced in my younger years.
So why on Earth am I feeling the same as these other people who have been through so much worse?
I fully acknowledge that my feelings, thoughts and emotions are very real to me and independent of what anyone else may be experiencing. But these other people we are introduced to in self-help books have all had the very short end of the stick, while I’ve had a comparatively easy ride. I feel guilty, weak. Not deserving of the help and support I have received from friends, family and therapists. I am taking time away from people who clearly have a much greater need.
So instead of the book helping improve my low self-esteem, my beliefs that I don’t really have the right to feel how I am feeling are just further reinforced.