Suffering from low self-esteem can cause you to place more value in the life of someone else than in your own life. Low self-esteem has everything to do with how you view yourself, and nothing to do with how you view the other person. If a woman does not like what she sees in the mirror, she is likely to look to someone else to validate her. Taking control of another person’s life and trying to fix that person, in some sense, empowers her. There is another person that she can view lower than herself. Thus, she has never really had the opportunity to focus on her own inadequacies because she is too busy focusing on the person whom she is enabling. She has become fixated on the enabled and begun making excuses for the bad behavior exhibited rather than holding the person accountable for what she knows is wrong.
While the feeling of worthlessness is part of the definition of low self-esteem, the result of low self-esteem can lead to potentially destructive behavior. The inability to say no presents a major problem for the enabler. I sat in a prison full of women who suffered from low self-esteem and the inability to say no. Some of the women were enablers and some were enabled. The women who were enablers usually had a drug dealer boyfriend or pimp whom they supported and made excuses for him on a daily basis, thus perpetuating bad behavior. The women who were enabled were usually products of a controlling mother, father, or family member who made excuses for their continuous bad behavior.
I often wondered why these women would spend so much time in one-sided relationships to the point of giving up their freedom. But I had done the same thing without being in a one-sided relationship. I soon realized it is because generally speaking, in some instances women have been socialized and trained to behave in self-destructive ways that benefit men at the women’s expense. My proof lies in the lives of the women I met in prison.
Self-reflection is a good place to start when you are overcome with low self-esteem. Consider the following questions as you journey toward healing.
What is your image of a strong person? Do you possess all or some of those qualities?
Describe yourself. Write down your good and bad qualities. Is there anything you would like to change?
Don’t be afraid by what is revealed in you answers. You are on a journey toward wholeness.