In details, how can a person build self-esteem to alleviate a psychological disorder?  What would be a good example to do it?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The development of balanced self- esteem is critical to minimizing the destructive impacts of specific psychological disorders.  For example, low self- esteem is linked to eating disorders.  Eating disorders like Anorexic bulimia are connected to low self- esteem.  The view of the self in the mind's eye is not entirely accurate.  In the case of the individual who is suffering from the psychological condition of an eating disorder, low self esteem becomes the result of thinking oneself as insufficient in a particular manner.  In contrast, individuals with excessively high self- esteem can exhibit traits of narcissistic personality disorder.  This condition is where an unusually high level of self- esteem can preclude healthy relationships with other people. It can also prevent a full understanding of self.  Many patients who suffer from this specific psychological disorder actually have challenges with their self- esteem and regulating it in a healthy manner.  In both examples, self- esteem is linked to specific psychological disorders.

A proper balance of self- esteem in the individual is critical for sound mental health.  In avoiding the pitfalls of psychological disorders where this lack of balance is evident, there are direct steps that individuals can take in order to establish a healthy display of self- esteem.  The balance of self- esteem in the individual can be seen as connected to a larger social element.  Individuals who wish to display healthy self- esteem have to be able to turn to other people in their lives with whom they can share their own understanding of self.  When individuals are able to turn to others who are trustworthy in the attempts to ensure that self- esteem is not too high or too low, balance becomes evident.  This reciprocal process is one way in which the individual with self- esteem concerns can have their voice validated at some points and validate others' voices at different points.

On a more internal level, individuals can practice simple affirmations that remind themselves of the importance of self- esteem.  Reminding oneself that they are content with who they are helps to avoid the pitfalls of narcissism, where excessive self- esteem runs unchecked.  Such a practice also minimizes the dangers of low self- esteem, where feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness dominate.  Simple mental reminders that are spoken and upon which there is constant rumination are important practices.  

These internal practices help to remind the individual and the mind of the importance of balance in establishing a healthy self- esteem.  This individualistic practice also minimizes the dependency on an external reality.  When individuals connect their self- esteem to something larger and extrinsic to themselves, self- esteem can suffer. For example, linking the individual sense of self to having "the best" in everything as defined by external reality can negotiate self- esteem regulation.  In the same way, aspiring to "be" a certain extrinsic reality can take away from self- esteem.  In New York City, a public service campaign aimed at adolescent girls to be happy with who they are is reflective of the importance in divorcing extrinsic reality from self- esteem.  This program seeks "to tackle the issue of girls’ self-esteem and body image."  The program underscores the danger in linking self- esteem to something external, and affirms the need to maintain an internal understanding of self- esteem.

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