Repairing Self-Esteem After Bullying Abuse

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
– Fred Rogers

The biggest loss one experiences after bullying damage is the loss of their own self-esteem. Once you stop believing in yourself and your abilities, things can move downhill very quickly. It is both terrifying and can seriously keep a person from living life and believe in themselves.

Let’s start with a clear definition self-esteem from Psychology Central. I like their definition which is “self-esteem simply means appreciating yourself for who you are — faults, foibles and all”. With this in mind, once a bully or abuser convinces you that you are not a good person and you do not even like yourself, which are typical feelings of an abuse victim, you can imagine how quickly that person might make some terrible decisions about their life and how they may react to anything someone does to them.

Luckily, there are professional ways to gain back that which was stolen from them by bullies and abusers. The hard part of this subject is trying to help someone who is in the midst of continual bullying to take these actions. They may need a good parent, mentor, mental health specialist or coach to support their way. It is very hard to expect a person with low self-esteem to “go it alone” at the beginning. They will need a support system. Given that concept, here are some known ways to help rebuild that self-esteem stolen from a person.

Change the Way You Think About Yourself

This is a difficult start, but the idea is that the person wants to get help and the first thing to do to regain their authentic self and self-esteem is to stop the ruminating negative talk in their head. The person is thinking they have no worth. They will need to be given examples and stop the “I am an awful person” self-talk. In many cases, a professional will need to work with the person to stop the negative self-talk and rumination. Sometimes medication may be recommended. But, need to get the person to work on ending their negative self-talk.

Set Some Achievable Goals

Again, this may seem easy, but not to someone with low self-esteem. The reason to set an achievable goal is that our minds tell us we are successful and change our own self-story when we meet these goals. What are some concepts of these goals. They may very simple to start:

  1. “I survived another day”
  2. “I talked to my counselor”
  3. “I wrote my feelings down”

This can get more advanced as the person moves further forward, but sometimes the easiest thing at the beginning is just to start with very simple and daily achievable goals.

Don’t Try to Be Perfect, There is No Such Thing

Many people who have easily damaged self-esteem or damaged self-esteem think that perfection is a goal in life. It might sound like “In one year, I need to be at…” We cannot predict the future, just as we cannot change the past. All we can do is work on today. Perfection in someone with low self-esteem is a dangerous combination. Help someone with low self-esteem learn to give up on perfection, accept that we learn from mistakes and they WILL happen. We are always working to make ourselves a better me. That is truly a goal is to keep working, without setting up a perfect ending. Using mindfulness techniques, such as gratitude journaling, yoga, exercise, healthy eating, and meditation go a long way to rebuilding self-esteem. Learning to realize that everything in life is PRACTICE and that there is no such thing as moving that to perfection is a great way to change thinking and realize that we are all just in a practice to improve our lives.

There are too many young people committing suicide or self-harming due to bullying. Of course, there is also many who deal with the same things with abuse. They are one in the same and this is the kinds of things that can be changed. If left unchecked, a person with low or no self-esteem may do things to themselves which hurt them and can potentially hurt others. Keep a caring eye out on this and if someone starts talking about having no self-worth, take action. They are asking for it, even if not by words, but actions. You may be saving a life.

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About bullyingrecovery

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach with a niche in bullying and abuse recovery, Bullying Recovery activist, and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance". and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe
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One Comment

  1. A very good post that hits home with me. My bullying experiences led me to join the marines when I graduated high school because I thought it was going to solve all my problems, it didn’t. It took a lot of the things you talk about for me to raise my self esteem and it’s still an ongoing battle.

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