As an adult, nobody can take away our self-esteem unless we give them that power. Here's something for you to think about: some people never had self esteem in the first place. And, they don't always gain it as adults. That is a pat answer: "nobody can take away our self-esteem unless we give them that power." That's like telling a person who is suffering from severe clinical depression "just cheer up and get a grip."
It certainly is not a pat answer! It is an answer born from years of experience, being one of those who for most of my life had NO self-esteem due to years of childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Believe me, I know all about having no self esteem to begin with. I have been suicidal myself, over crushing words spoken to me by my family, telling me I would be better off dead!
I also did not find any self-esteem as a young adult. Df'd for 3 years, shunned by family and friends. When re-instated I suffered years of anxiety and severe clinical depression culminating in a diagnosis of PTSD and was on various medications for 10 years. Being "depressed" became a major part of my identity. I thought I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I would never tell a depressed person to just cheer up and get a grip and I was highly annoyed when people did that to me, my son, and other friends who suffered from depression. However, I am living proof that there is a way out depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I have not taken anti-depressants for almost two years now. That does not mean I do not get down, blue and depressed because frankly life sucks sometimes, mine included, and that is just reality. However, I CHOOSE to deal with it differently than in the past. I no longer "identity" with my depression (or any of my moods for that matter). I no longer define myself by those labels, I no longer allow my controlling family, JW's or anyone to define who I am with their words or actions. I choose who I am and how I will respond in all situations as opposed to just "reacting" to life circumstances. I understand if my previous words seemed easy and "pat". That was not my intention. It was not easy to get to this point. It was damned hard work on my part. Years of counseling, but not just venting or listening, actually putting into practice what I was advised to do. Commitment to make changes in how I acted in my life. Standing up to my abusive family. Leaving JW's. Being willing to be shunned by family and friends. Years of meditation and spiritual reading and practice. Allowing myself to feel feelings of depression, grief and anxiety, explore and work through them no matter how terrifying they were. Being willing to face the reality of all that it means to be human. The beauty and the ugliness. Pat? Never. Worth every bit of the struggle? Absolutely! I stand by what I said. As adults, no one can take away our self-esteem unless we give it to them. The only way we can ever get it back or develop it if we never had any to begin with, is to acknowledge that the choice is ours in the first place. It is in our power how to respond to others and what to believe. Cog ps: I write this not to argue, but out of empathy and to offer hope to others who are suffering similiar circumstances in life.