Category Archives: Self-esteem

Emotional Wellbeing and Catharsis

CATHARSIS is the process of releasing or cleansing oneself of emotional tension. It’s recognized as a form of healing in many cultures and is a common technique used in psychotherapy with conversation. It is this combination of catharsis and personal insight that can bring about positive change and provide emotional wellbeing.

For example, crying after the loss of a parent is a healthy way to release emotions and a great form of catharsis. The tears from crying contain cancerous substances that are flushed from the body.  The cause, of course, is the end of a close relationship. The positive change may be to expand your social network so you are not reliant on too few people in the future. Emotional wellbeing occurs because spreading your emotional bonds to many sources may help you not over react to the loss of one in the future.

There is a theory in psychology that repressed(unexpressed) anger leads to depression. This is a trap that many people get caught in because the culture doesn’t accept outright anger expression and it’s inappropriate in many situations like work. Depression also effects your physical health by reducing your immune response, your social and sexual interest, and disrupts your sleep and appetite. Depression impairs your mental sharpness and is significantly correlated with obesity. So, finding a way to release anger in a healthy manner goes a long way toward our mental and physical health.

Your emotional wellbeing and physical health are so connected that we can treat them as one. That means we all need various emotional outlets like talking to a friend, a sports where you hit something(ball), writing in a diary, acting in a play, artistic expression, volunteering, or helping others in some way. When I’m angry, I walk around the house cussing out loud when no one is around. Then I look to go out for some exercise. I never feel depressed when I do that and I’ve improved my emotional wellbeing and health instead.

Catharsis is a coping mechanism that helps us manage life better and is even a trait for longevity. Having healthy coping skills not only reduces stress and improves health, but also increases self-esteem. That’s right, you feel more confident about yourself when you cope with life effectively.

To maintain our good health, we need regular catharsis on a daily basis.  I actually feel that following your passions socially, at work or in sport is a form of catharsis.  Yes, it’s okay to get angry and expresses it when appropriate. I personally find that a verbal and physical outlet works best for me. But, don’t forget those dependable friendships and a positive attitude to increase the range of your coping skills.

L. Johnson from

Photo: virturalworldslets. net

Improve Self-Esteem

We all want improve self-esteem because we want to feel more positive about ourselves. Here is what you need to know to improve yours.

Americans are more concerned with self-esteem than other cultures partly because we have many symbols of personal success in our society. Those symbols are our house, car, clothes, vacations, jewelry, and even what prep school our kids go to. Despite how superficial this may seem, its part of our culture. External objects of success can have an impact on self-esteem if that’s your yardstick. However, over time, these external measures tend to mean less as we understand their limited value.

As a therapist for over 35 years, I’ve had many opportunities to improve self-esteem especially with depressed patients. First I want to define self-esteem as an attitude that’s completely under your control. It’s a way to view yourself and the world. If this attitude was established in childhood, that’s where I would start.  So, see if you can pinpoint when it started, that goes a long way in understanding the cause. It often comes from an over stressed parent and not a result of anything you did.

THE ORGIN Being aware of the cause of negative feelings like a degrading parent or sibling helps put our feelings in perspective. Just because others blamed you, thats no reason to blame yourself. Some of us may have had toxic people in our past which we may have to accept and move on. We must release feelings of the past so we can move forward in a healthy manner.

SELF-AWARENESS You may not realize how amazing you are until you make a list of all your abilities, skills, and attributes. This is a written exercise because you will continue to add to it. I want to see a long list of even the smallest traits like making your bed in the morning or just being polite to people. Fill the page and pin it on your refrigerator to remind you.

RELATIONSHIPS Did you know that we take on the attitude of those around us? It’s important to step back and evaluate how positive our relationships really are. Sometimes, we might hold onto old friends out of obligation or duty, but that may not be a good idea. Ask yourself if your friends or family treat you with the same respect as you treat them. This exercise involves making a written list of all the people we know and assigning a positive value to each.

ACCEPT YOURSELF AND OTHERS We are not perfect and that’s ok. Accepting the unique imperfection of yourself and others is what makes personalities interesting. An attitude of acceptance of others tends to increase their acceptance of you. Transformative exercise: you can decide to say something positive about people each time you meet them. Don’t be surprised if they start doing the same to you which increases your self-esteem.

JEALOUSY This occurs when others are perceived as better in some way. People who spend too much time on social media tend to feel this way of others. Men especially tend to compete on different levels that can make one feel inadequate. So, don’t put yourself in a win or lose situation and stop worrying what others are doing. Be sure to set you “own” goals. Self-esteem is based on our contentment with ourselves, not others.

CREATIVE VISUALIZATION Before you get out of bed in the morning, lie there and visualize(mental imagery) how positive or effective you will be that day. If you have an interview, image how it will go and how positive and confident you will feel. If you haven’t done this before, you may be surprised how behavior follows predetermined thought. In my therapy, I assign the book Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain for those new to this technique. If you haven’t read this book, it might open up a new world for you.     L. Johnson of