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The emotional economy: Reasons why we lose our self-esteem


Imagine your emotions are a bank. A bank relies on a healthy economy to keep it afloat. A healthy economy relies on an ability to see the bigger picture – what impact will my emotional trades have on me and others? You have to be very aware of every little transaction, because they all add up.

The emotional economy

This is an attitude we need to take when discussing mental health. Emotional balance plays a huge part in maintaining a healthy mind, and self-esteem forms part of that balance. Being content with your worth as a person and confident in your abilities relies on a strong emotional economy. Your actions and dialogue when trading between other banks – other people – have to be reciprocated satisfactorily. You don’t want to be emotionally bankrupt. Here is where it becomes tricky. Not enough of us are seeing the bigger picture here. We’re not placing enough importance on our actions and dialogue because we do not see them as contributing to an economy. We do not see the pounds at risk, because we isolate the value of the penny. Pennies alone are insubstantial, but without them we do not form economies. We do not form our self-esteem. We do not form ourselves.[How self awareness can improve your relationships]

Spending from the bank of emotions

A penny in this conceit can buy many a thing. It can be a judgemental glance, a suspicious whisper or a brush off. You might not think you’re draining too much of someone’s capital when you sell these, but you are. It adds up. Eventually, someone can be left in a dire financial state. They don’t have any self-esteem to fall back on now the rainy day has come. Taking pennies from someone’s account over a long period of time might seem inconsequential, but if you made all these transactions in one go, you’d be taking millions. The cost doesn’t seem so small now.
The truth is that self-esteem can be destroyed, but more often than not it is worn down over a long time. [How to grow confidence] It takes a pattern of the same utterances, the same thoughts, the same beliefs being enforced over and over again to seriously affect self-esteem, and it’s a hard system to break when it’s in place. Start planning to change these habits tomorrow by downloading our planners.

Being aware of the economy of emotions

Of course, those who suffer with low self-esteem can help themselves, but we could all do with being a bit more aware of ourselves and others. Everyone, after all, is part of the economy of emotions. In what sociologists call self-fulfilling prophecies, if you hold a strong enough relationship with someone to make them seriously consider your thoughts on them, you can have a dramatic impact on their lifestyle. The most common example is teachers and students. If a teacher reinforces the idea that a pupil will be a success, constantly bringing up their good qualities and encouraging their development, they will more than likely fulfil the prophecy. This isn’t to say the teacher should lie or sugar-coat the truth to students underperforming, but not to let those actions become prophetic. The teacher owes it to their pupils not to assume they can’t improve, because that negativity will be internalised. If enough teachers tell a child they are the ‘class clown’ or the ‘girly girl’, over the years – as more pennies are taken – the child will accept it as part of their self-esteem and it will be based on what was expected of them, not what they are capable of.

Perhaps you can recognise this situation in your life. If you do, book in with one of our coaches to help boost your self esteem or  visit our Video Moods section. Maybe you can think of a time when people expected or assumed things about you and you just took those thoughts on for convenience. Sometimes, one particular ill-conceived statement will set someone on a self-destructive path. The prophecy becomes so internalised that the person starts looking for ways to fulfil it. They look for signs in everyday life – advertisements, slogans, social media statuses, celebrity quotes – to justify their negative self-perception. So much damage can be caused by things so small. Think before you speak.


This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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