They seem to go together, don’t they? I wonder if perhaps one makes the other worse. I remember when my OCD started to seriously improve, but my self esteem didn’t. A lot of the anxiety, stress and busy schedule got better, but I still saw myself as a pretty messed up person. I knew OCD was not my fault and I felt proud of the therapy I had worked on, so why did I still feel so worthless? I think its understandable though, I mean I was doing rituals that I was embarrassed by, felt so angry at myself for not getting far enough along in therapy, and compared myself to all the “normies”.
Im sure everyone has their own opinion on self esteem, but for me it looks like this…
A person with high self esteem carries beliefs like “I am worthy”, they trust in their own judgment, do not excessively worry, and they consider themselves equal.
A person with low self esteem might experience heavy self criticism, chronic indecision, eagerness to please others, perfectionism, neurotic guilt, pessimism and envy.
I think you can see why people with OCD struggle with low self esteem…. So the question is, can we raise it while still dealing with the struggles of OCD that resemble it, such as perfectionism and indecision?
This is no simple topic and one that I believe can be best worked on in steps. Firstly, try not to beat yourself up. This is a hard one because we have such high standards, but it’s a great place to start. What I used to say all the time was “I’m just bat-shit; who in their right mind wouldn’t run for the hills once they get to know me?” What I could say instead is something like “I’m not crazy, I just have OCD. I do have friends that love me, though I am scared of how others might view me and that makes not nervous to let knew people get to know me. Im lovable.”
What I like about that is its not completely something I would write off, and it still acknowledges my anxieties and concerns, but without being so judgey and mean to myself.
So, I have been practicing being kinder to myself for quite some time now and somedays it’s easy and other times not so much. I had OCD for years so I know it could take a bit of time and work to raise my self esteem into a more stable state. But, its one day at a time. And no matter if you were recently diagnosed, deep in the thick of it, struggling in therapy, or finding out who you are on the outside of OCD, there is always room to show kindness to yourself.