On Identity & Self Esteem: Lessons from Downton Abbey

By

On Identity & Self Esteem: Lessons from Downton Abbey
The psychological goal is to affirm oneself without an over-emphasis on what we imagine others think

Struggles with transitions such as Mary's and Tom's are thematically similar to those of many psychotherapy clients.  Frequently, people seek therapy when something significant has changed in their life, and adjusting to this change highlights struggles with self-esteem and identity.  Whether through parenthood, changing roles, the death of a loved one, a new job or any other significant change, the near universal tension between how we experience ourselves and how we imagine others experience us is a challenging and fascinating struggle.  The goal is to be able to affirm oneself without an over-emphasis on how we imagine we are seen by others. "Imagine" being the key word, because one never really knows what others are truly thinking or feeling. 

The always-perceptive Mrs. Hughes understands this concept so well and is able to pierce through Tom's pain and give him the loving guidance he desperately needs:

"Would you allow me to speak as I would have in the old days?  You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life.  But you've done well and Lady Sybil would have been so proud."

When Tom sobs and replies that he cannot bear life without his beloved Sybil, Mrs. Hughes continues:

"You must bear it.  And one day I hope, and so would she, that you'll find someone to bear it with you. But, until then, be your own Master."

Mrs. Hughes' wise guidance is applicable to the challenges that so many of us face when feeling isolated, insecure or alone.  She urges Tom to affirm himself in spite of his loneliness, and teaches him that being true to himself rather than beholden to the opinions of others is an essential survival skill.  Through their powerful connection, it seems possible that Tom may, someday, reclaim happiness.

Elisabeht's book, "Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce" was a finalist in the 2008 National Best Book Award in the relationship category.  Visit www.elisabethlamotte.com to learn more and follow @elisjoy.

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Elisabeth LaMotte

Counselor/Therapist

Social worker, psychotherapist, blogger and author of "Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce"

Location: Washington, DC
Credentials: LICSW, MFT, MSW
Specialties: Communication Problems, Dating/Being Single Support, Divorce/Divorce Prevention
Other Articles/News by Elisabeth LaMotte:

A Therapist's Review Of 'Romantics Anonymous'

By

Most of us experience some form of social anxiety. We may feel nervous before a social gathering or slightly agitated during group activities. In the extreme, social anxiety compromises the ability to connect to another person in an intimate relationship. Jean-Pierre Ameris' 2010 French film, Les Emotifs Anonymous, is a comedic but meaningful study of what ... Read more

Robin Williams And Cinema Therapy

By

Cinema therapy is an aspect of psychotherapy that is gaining attention these days. This approach involves the therapist's suggestion of various films that relate to the issues the client wants to address. Film's power to help and to heal, and therefore complement that therapeutic process, may be one of the most interesting aspects of practicing ... Read more

How Our View Of Relationships And Breakups Changes As We Age

By

Intimate relationships are a primary focus in psychotherapy. Through therapy, people examine their closest relationships in order to determine what aspects of their approach to others work well for them, and what aspects of their approach they might want to change in order to form healthier attachments. In order to figure this out, it helps to look at current ... Read more

See More

PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
ASK YOURTANGO MORE QUESTIONS
Most Popular