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Unread Aug 15th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can I help someone improve themself...

...without coming across as an asshole? I've been having this problem with one particular friend at uni who's a great girl, but she does some really self-depreciating/annoying things i.e. unloading her problems onto everyone and making self-deprecating jokes so that everyone else will compliment her.

Now I know that these are pretty textbook "symptoms" of low self-confidence, but how can I tell her to stop doing them without sounding like an ass?
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Unread Aug 15th, 2006, 07:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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there's a very good chance she will misundersatnd or dismiss your attempts to help, so be very sure she does suffer from self esteem issues and that she will benefit from your input.

make it very clear you are not coming on to her, but that you think she should hear what youy say as heartfelt advice for her own sake

make sure you present what you say as confidence boosting compliments rather than judgemental attacks.

just tell her that she's a better person than the jokes she makes about herself - that she treats herself unfairly and that she needs to believe in herself more.

chances are even with the best intentions, the greatest care, tact and diplomacy she will either reject your help, be in denial or be unable to see how to escape from her situation.

people with low self esteem have often spent their entire life being programmed to believe they are wrong, weak, less of a person in some way, uglier, or whatever. whether they become shy, aggressive or any other form of over compensating they're gonna be hard to just walk up to and start throwing opions at with out having them retreat, fight back or behave inappropriately.

it takes patience, a very gentle subtle approach and a illingness to become a bit of a punching bag at times.

good luck.
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Unread Aug 15th, 2006, 07:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've worked with children who have low self-esteem (sounds like your friend is suffering from this). People should be aware that low self-esteem can be defined as a serious mental problem/illness. It might seem that she is just craving compliments and it is something she probably cannot recognise herself. There are loads of publications on this matter and if you are a real friend and want to help her there are loads of things that you can do to help. Simply telling her to Stop! Wont help as she wont even realise that what she does is annoying, and will probably make her feel worse about herself anyway!!

Good luck - pm me and I will be able to look out some relevant sites/publications that might help.

btw it's kinda funny that someone posted this today because my self-esteem just hit rock bottom this morning .... but is on its way up as I type!!!!
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Unread Aug 15th, 2006, 06:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've been in the shoes of self-deprecation before, and it took several people saying things to me that built up the things in my life that I needed (different than what I wanted sometimes) to be built up in. I had to open up to them enough so that they could get a read on who I was, not just the fragile front that I put up. As I was able to let myself grow into a more accurate self-image, the face I showed the world became alot more real.

So my advice is to get a few other close friends on board with you and subtly and consistently bombard your friend with genuine compliments that reach to who she is behind the public facade.
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