Once positive or negative self-esteem has developed, it will perpetuate itself in a cycle. If a person believes that he is a failure, he may put himself into situations in which he is destined to fail. If he does not think he can succeed, he may not put forth the amount of effort that success would require. Similarly, if a person believes that he is a success, he will not let one little failure cause him to change his entire opinion of himself. Self-esteem, once it is created, is very difficult to change. If a person dislikes who she is, yet someone else tries to tell her that she is wonderful, she probably will not believe that person. More likely, she will wonder what this person could possibly want from her that he or she is willing to lie and be so nice to get it. On the other hand, if the person feels positive about herself, a single instance of failure will be written off as bad luck, poor effort, or a simple fluke. A negative self-esteem cycle, once it gets started, is very difficult to change, and learning how to break this cycle is the single greatest challenge to self-esteem therapists.
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