Ladies, we really need to stop being so hard on ourselves!
It seems we’re constantly bombarded with images of perfect women. Movie stars, sportswomen, celebrities and models who wouldn’t dream of sharing these images without a little airbrushing. No wonder many women struggle at some point with low self-esteem, which can lead to anxiety, unreasonable expectations of self and depression.
With this as our framework in society, it’s not surprising that many women who go through breast cancer also struggle with self-esteem issues.
Helms, O’Hea & Corso1 report that body image issues such as weight gain and concern with their appearance (particularly hair loss and body changes such as breast disfigurement) can have a significant impact on a woman’s self-esteem and psychological well-being. This is supported by Wong-Kim & Bloom2 who found that low self-esteem, low emotional support and poor body image led to an increase in depressive symptoms and decreased their ability to cope.
We are generally our toughest critics and put ourselves under enormous pressure when others are much kinder towards us.
So what can help?
- Take active steps to be kinder to yourself - ask others how they see you and accept their compliments
- Deal with difficult feelings - find a safe place to express and explore your feelings like; heading to the great outdoors with your dog and let off some steam, let your imagination run wild - as one of my clients tells me “go out the back and have a good scream”
- Forget the past and find ways to enjoy living in the present
- Stop worrying about the future - you will miss the present
- Talking helps – support groups, counselling, good friends, family
- Acknowledgement of the enormity of the experience and not pretending that nothing has happened
- Taking time and having realistic expectations - the goal posts have shifted
- Look for something positive from each day and rejoice in it
- Reflecting on your values
- Setting your own agenda
So remember - To thine own self be true (William Shakespeare)
If you are struggling with low self-esteem at the moment, we are here to help you. We run nine support groups and would carefully select which one best suits your needs.
We also provide ‘free’ individual counselling and are about to start weekly therapy groups focusing on specific topics.
For more information, please contact Aileen on 9324 3703.
1Helms, R. L., O’Hea, E. L., & Corso, M. (2008). Body image issues in women with breast cancer. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 13(3), 313-325, 13(3), 313-325. Retrieved from Science Direct database.
2Wong-Kim, E. C., & Bloom, J. R. (2004). Depression experienced by young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Psycho-OncologyWiley InterScience database., 14, 564-573. Retrieved from Wiley InterScience database.