If you are dealing with low self-esteem on a regular or even daily basis, it’s time to take action …
Do you find yourself thinking “I’m not good enough,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” “no one will ever like me” or even “I’m worthless?”
Some people may have had brief moments where these thoughts have crossed their mind, usually during particularly stressful circumstances.
However, if you are finding that these terms are how you describe yourself most of the time, then you may be suffering from low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can be defined as placing a low value on yourself, judging yourself harshly and having a overall negative opinion of yourself.
The Effects of Low Self-Esteem
As low self-esteem refers to how we view ourselves, it can have a significant impact on our lives: from how we interact with other people; how we engage in our work or study; and how we look after ourselves.
People with low self-esteem may experience the following:
- Self-criticism – Frequently putting themselves down and engaging in self-criticism. Tend to blame themselves when things go wrong.
- Focusing only on the bad – May ignore all the positives, and only focus on the negative aspects of situation.
- Experiencing negative emotions – Low self-esteem is frequently associated with feeling depressed, hopeless, ashamed, angry, or nervous.
- Avoidance – Commonly withdraw from any social or leisure activities, believing that they are unworthy or positive experiences.
- Work difficulties – Less motivated to set high goals for themselves, and therefore less likely to experience high achievement at work. They may also overcompensate for their feelings of inadequacy, and overwork themselves.
- Relationship problems – Due to feelings of worthlessness, it is common to experience difficulties in their personal relationships. They may be overly sensitive to signs of criticism, avoid and withdraw from social gatherings and interactions, or become a people-pleaser and disregard their own rights and wants. Susceptible to being mistreated or abused due to a lack of assertiveness, or feeling as though they “don’t deserve” to be happy or treated well.
- Health and wellbeing – Do not generally value themselves, and as a result may not prioritise their physical health and wellbeing. They may forgo healthy eating and exercise and turn to alcohol and drugs to help them cope with their emotions. They may not look after themselves in other ways, such as not taking time to dress neatly or maintain personal hygiene. On the other end of the scale, people with low-self esteem may go to great lengths to hide their perceived inadequacies which can result in perfectionism and having a strong desire to present themselves in a positive light.
What Causes Low Self-Esteem?
For a lot of us, the beliefs we have about ourselves are developed in childhood and are influenced by our family, peers, and experiences of school and our community.
Specific experiences that can result in low self-esteem include abuse and neglect, unrealistic high standards put on us by our parents, and bullying or trouble fitting in with our peers.
Low self-esteem can also develop as part of another problem, such as depression or illness, or even as a result of negative or abusive personal relationships.
Tips for Dealing with Low Self-Esteem
Although we cannot change the past, we can address unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours in the present.
This in turn will enable us to identify and challenge our negative self-beliefs and replace them with more positive, realistic ones. Acknowledging our positive qualities can also help, and it is important to recognise and acknowledge our strengths and abilities.
If you recognise yourself or a loved one while reading this article, a psychologist can help you with strategies to help with overcoming a low self-esteem – and building a better life!
Author: Tegan Gonczar, BA (Hons), Grad Dip Ed (Secondary).
Tegan Gonczar is a Brisbane psychologist with experience in providing psychological counselling to children, adolescents and adults; she has a passion for working with people of all ages, to help them overcome obstacles, learn effective ways of coping and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Bookings and Fees: To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Tegan Gonczar, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Dryden, W. (2003). Managing Low Self-Esteem. Whurr Publishers, London.
- Lim, L., Saulsman, L., & Nathan, P. (2005). Improving Self-Esteem. Perth, Western Australia: Centre for Clinical Interventions.
- Powell, T. (2009). The Mental Health Handbook : A Cognitive Behavioural Approach (3rd ed.). Speechmark Publishing Ltd., U.K.