Self-Esteem For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

Many damaging “shoulds” are messages you learned from your parents. Some are little things. They may have told you to brush your teeth every night, sit up straight, and take a shower every morning.

But the types of “shoulds” you learned that are most detrimental to your self-esteem are those that go deeper — what kind of job you should have, what kind of person you should marry, what represents success, how you should spend your free time, who your friends should be, and what your religious and political beliefs should be. These are value-laden and deny the reality of how you feel as well as who and what you are.

Now as an adult, you’re so used to following others’ “shoulds” that you’ve not allowed yourself to be who and what you truly are. You have feelings of confusion. One part of you says that you want to do something, and the other part says you should do something different.


Consider a few examples that may apply to you:

  • You’re afraid. You think you should be strong, but you’re still scared.

  • You’re angry. You think you should be empathetic, but you’re still upset.

  • You’re crying because a friend died. Your inner critic tells you that you should be over your grieving, but you can’t stop crying.

  • You love to draw. Your inner critic stresses that you can’t make enough money doing that, so you become a business major. But your real love is still drawing.

  • You have strong feelings toward someone of another race, but your family’s and community’s messages are that it’s wrong to feel that way. But you still have this attraction.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

S. Renee Smith is a renowned self-esteem and branding expert, speaker, author, and resource to the media. Her expertise in personal and professional development and ability to inspire others to make positive, permanent changes has made her a sought-after consultant and speaker to Fortune 500 corporations, universities, government and nonprofit agencies, and churches. Vivian Harte has taught assertiveness skills online to over 10,000 students worldwide. She has 14 years of experience teaching in the classroom at Pima Community College and the University of Phoenix. She also hosted her own radio and television shows for many years in Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and Tucson.

This article can be found in the category: