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Home » Featured, Headline, Managing Emotions, Relationships, Self Esteem

Low Self–Esteem and Taking Control

Submitted by on March 2, 2014 – 9:24 pmNo Comment


Author: J. T. Cane

Article #665

Humans are capable of altering their consciousness at any given moment. Part of the problem with persons who suffer from low self-esteem is they are using this ability, however, in a discriminate and very selective way. They are limiting their choices. When one alters his or her consciousness by means of active involvement, for example by listening to music, exercising, and problem solving, the individual can use his or her potential (May, et al., 1994, p. 31); human beings are taking action. It is in one’s innate ability to learn that allows an individual to be creative in changing personal consciousness to take action; it is in the ‘doing’ that builds self-esteem.

Because humans have the power to learn and grow, they can develop healthy self-esteem. However, when individuals take substances (drugs & alcohol) to alter consciousness to cope with day-to- day concerns, they put themselves in a reactive state where they have little control; they do not exercise active involvement as stated above; individuals side-step the challenge of active involvement to build self-esteem and self-respect. They have given up their option and opportunity to cope with a given stressor in a natural productive manner that would allow them to adapt and be more resilient in future stressful situations. They may never discover the pathways to improving the coping skills necessary to handle life’s problems.

Individuals have times when they feel comfortable, in control, and feel at home; they experience circumstances in which they have the most confidence, can adapt, and take action; and in these situations, they can create a feeling of safety for themselves. Most people enjoy and seek alternate states of consciousness daily. Altering levels of consciousness can modify brain chemistry (Pink, 2006) which can result in changing body chemistry. Searching for ways to naturally alter consciousness, such as changing routine, quickly shifting one’s thinking, entertaining oneself, changing the meaning or importance of an occasion, or simply being aware of surprising oneself, can enable a person with to gain insight for the possibility to change for the better, a task more easily attained by a person with high self-esteem and far more of a challenge for someone suffering from low self-esteem.

Techniques used to alter consciousness and to rewire the brain (Pink, 2006) have also been proven to effectively reduce bodily symptoms such as pain. One often becomes aware of their consciousness level when pain changes. This is very evident when one becomes angry, happy, frightened, sad, or overly stimulated. An individual can change his or her consciousness level to alter brain chemistry to release neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins (Breuning, 2012) to feel more at ease, happy, in control and secure; when this is done, individuals can exercise their ability to move away from old habits, which contribute to thoughts and negative feelings related to low self-esteem. When the brain releases one of these chemicals, a person can feel happy.

Part of being happy is acknowledging that the idea of being happy is an individual experience. To strengthen self-esteem one needs to find something that works and then repeat the thought and/or action. This process builds an organic chemical habit in relation to being happy. Repeated action creates a template in the unconscious mind, which, over time, the individual can create through what May et al. (1994) identified as potentia (p. 31) an experience of reference connected to contentment. The key is to break the loop of old habits. This can be difficult for the individual as new habits take approximately 45 days to form and for them to feel normal to the person (Breuning, 2012).

Knowing what each chemical does can help the individual boost his/her self-esteem. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for reward motivation behavior that can produce the great feeling that one will succeed at meeting personal needs. For example, when one moves in the direction of a goal the person feels the feeling that success is at hand; Serotonin flows when an individual feels important. For example, a person can appreciate a sense of his or her own importance by feeling good about what he or she does personally well; Oxytocin produces the feeling of trust, as when an individual experiences the feelings that are aroused in strengthening new relationships. Endorphin is the brief euphoria that masks physical pain. For example, laughing and crying stimulate small bursts of endorphin. Varying an exercise routine can stimulate naturally produced endorphin without the often-harmful excess that can occur when artificial stimulation is sought.


Self-esteem is a necessary human trait that allows one to function in a healthy and effective manner. High self-esteem enjoys challenges and stimulation of worthwhile goals. Achieving goals cultivates good self-esteem. Low self-esteem seeks safety, the familiar and unchallenging; this weakens self-esteem and slows growth. Self-esteem is about having the confidence to express talents and strengths freely as an aid to serve oneself, those close, and the society one lives in.

The practice of living purposefully starts personally and reaches globally. Families and social systems can create the foundations that either support or degrade self-esteem in children and in future generations. Both individuals and the collective would benefit the most if foundations supportive of high self-esteem can be developed.


About the Author

For over 15 years, John Cane has helped over 100,000 individuals  in areas of Self Improvement. John is a motivational speaker and writer who develops and implements confidence and self-esteem workshops in North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York. With a background in Psychology, he has six certifications in Personal Growth and Development.  His Journal Books, ‘Important Things I Remember from My Parents’ are used in schools and as an aid for adults in gaining strength in self identity in the United States and Europe.

John Cane, owner and webmaster of Self Help Guides is pursuing his Graduate Degree through the School of Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology at Saybrook University, San Francisco, California.

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Did this article help? I hope so. Change can be difficult sometimes. Like I always say in my workshops, It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it because you’re worth it!
Donations fund Self Esteem Workshops for teens, supply books to schools for the continual support of character education across America, and are tax deductable.

Thank you from Self Help Guides!


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Leave us a suggestion for articles you would like to see. We will do our best to suit your needs! Did this information help? I hope so. Change can be difficult sometimes. Like I always say in my workshops, It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it because you’re worth it! Donations fund Self Esteem Workshops for teens, supply books to schools for the continual support of character education across America, and are tax deductable. Thank you from Self Help Guides!