“Improving your self-esteem is probably the best thing anyone with dyslexia can do for themselves”.
I found this nugget of advice in the Dyslexia Association of Ireland’s booklet ‘Living with Dyslexia – Information for Adults with Dyslexia’. It’s prompted me to share with you:
- The booklet’s definition of low self-esteem
- 3 things that have helped me rebuild my self-esteem
- Further information
The booklet’s definition of low self-esteem
“Low self-esteem means that the person does not value themselves as a human being deserving of respect and fulfilment”.
3 things that have helped me rebuild my self-esteem
1) Giving myself credit
Once when I was speaking to another dyslexic adult, I told him that I’d failed a postgraduate course. He pointed out that although I’d failed it, I’d passed my undergraduate degree. ‘You should give yourself credit for that’, he said ‘- it’s a huge achievement’. This helped me because in my mind, my failure had superseded my success.
Until I was identified in mid-adulthood, my unaddressed dyslexia generated many problems in my functioning, e.g. relating to others, learning, and work. These problems led to negative experiences which eroded my self-esteem.
Being identified helped me understand the problems and start to address them. But I still had the negative experiences to deal with. So I went to see a counsellor. He told me that:
- I can’t undo my negative experiences; I can only learn to live with them. This stopped me wanting to set right what had gone wrong.
- Forgiving those who caused me grief would help me move on, whereas continuing to resent them would do me harm.
- I could use my negative experiences to my advantage, by finding ways to grow from them positively, for example by learning from them.
This helped me deal with my negative experiences.
3) Adult learning
Another thing that damaged my self-esteem was repeatedly failing to achieve my potential in learning. So in order to improve my self-esteem, I needed to prove to myself that I could learn successfully.
I now know what adjustments I need in a learning context. Using that awareness, I’ve been able to learn successfully for the first time in my life, at adult learning classes provided by my local authority. That has let me see for myself that I can learn.
‘Living with Dyslexia – Information for Adults with Dyslexia’
– A booklet by Anne Hughes, with contributions from Mary Ball, Rosie Bissett and Wyn McCormack
– Published 2009 by the Dyslexia Association of Ireland
– Available to download free from Dyslexia Association of Ireland’s website or directly from the link below:
– Available to borrow / consult from Dyslexia Scotland’s resource centre
– ISBN 978-0-9532427-4-0
Improving your self-esteem
In addition to giving yourself credit, the booklet recommends the following. (These are all clearly explained on pages 87-91 of the booklet).
- Don’t be your own worst critic
- Don’t expect the worst
- Don’t dwell on the past
- Trust yourself
- Be positive
Here are 2 other self-help resources:
The NHS provides free counselling. Your counsellor might find this list helpful: Resources for counsellors on counselling dyslexic adults.
How about you?
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- What do you think has caused it?
- What tips on self-esteem would you give yourself and others?
Please feel free to post a comment or use these questions for self-reflection.
Content in this blog post from the ‘Living with Dyslexia’ booklet detailed above is reproduced with kind permission of Dyslexia Association of Ireland.
By an anonymous adult member of Dyslexia Scotland