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Low Self-Esteem

Low Self-Esteem

The way we think about and place value on our self can be understood as Self Esteem. Simply put, self esteem can be understood as the opinion a person has about themself.  If you find that you are regularly having negative thoughts about yourself or often criticise, judge or even just think badly about yourself you may be suffering from low- self esteem. It is important to note that many people lack confidence occasionally however people with low self esteem tend to be unsatisfied or unhappy with themselves most of the time. It takes effort, consistent practise, dedication and attention to one's triggers and personality to boost a low self esteem.

Often people confuse self esteem with self confidence. Self confidence is different to self esteem as it relates to the ability a person has in a specific area in their life. An individual can have immense amounts of confidence in regards to particular abilities yet still suffer from low self esteem. Achieving confidence in a specific area of your life will not necessarily result in a higher self esteem. 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Having Low Self Esteem

  • Often Joking about yourself in a negative manner
  • Being critical about yourself and saying negative things about yourself frequently
  • Always blaming yourself for things going wrong
  • Only focusing on the negatives that happen
  • Failure to recognise your achievements or giving luck credit to all achievements
  • Thinking other people are better than you are
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Avoiding situations that might be challenging due to fear of failing
  • Being overly upset with criticism or any form of disapproval
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, ashamed, sad, angry or worthless
  • Feeling you are inferior to those around you
  • Having negative self talks with yourself
  • Constantly self blaming

 

Consequences on a Person’s Life

There are many consequences that one may face due to low self esteem such as difficulty in relationships and problems at work or school. Having low self esteem can reduce the quality of life of an individual significantly. Examples of this could include but are not limited to:

  • Relationship Issues. Tolerating unacceptable behaviours from people around you as you believe you need to earn their love, believe you cannot be loved or feel you do not deserve more.
  • Fear of Trying or doubting your ability or your self worth.
  • Negative Feelings. Constantly criticizing yourself can lead to repeated feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame or anger.
  • Perfectionism. Pushing yourself to become an overachiever to make up for what you see as your inferiority. 
  • Fear of judgement resulting in avoidance of activities that you would otherwise enjoy. 
  • Lack of self care. You may care so little about your health that you may drink too much or push your boundaries to please people around you. You may also have difficulty standing up for your rights or what you believe in when you are being bullied or abused. 
  • Low Resilience. You often find it hard to cope with challenging life events as you feel you are already a “hopeless” case.
  • Self harming behaviours. You may put yourself in dangerous situations, practice self harm, develop an eating disorder, use drugs in an unhealthy manner or contemplate sucide.
  • Greater risk of developing a mental health disorder. Having low self esteem can be associated with health problems such as anxiety, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, depression, social phobia or substance abuse. 

 

Causes of Low Self Esteem

Low self esteem can develop from a very young age. If you had difficulty meeting the expectations of your parents, didn't fit in at school or your needs were abused/neglected you may be at greater risk of developing a low opinion of yourself. 

Some factors that can increase your risk of having low self esteem may include:

  • Being treated poorly by your parents, partner, carer or any other significant individual. An example of this would be being part of an abusive relationship. 
  • Having a difficult childhood where parents or significant people were very critical of your choices. 
  • Ongoing medical problems such as having a serious illness, chronic pain or having a physical disability. 
  • Having a poor academic performance in school resulting in a lack of confidence. 
  • Having a mental illness such as depression or an anxiety disorder. 
  • Having ongoing stressful life events such as relationship breakdown or financial trouble.

 

Diagnosis of Low Self Esteem

It is not very common to be diagnosed with low self esteem but if you feel like you are worried about the impact low self esteem is having on the quality of your life, you can seek help from a GP or talk to a mental health professional here at Inner Psych Canberra. They can assess the impact that low self esteem is having on your life as well as provide guidance and treatment so that you can learn to love and value yourself.

 

Treatment of Low Self-Esteem

There are lots of activities that you can do yourself or with the support of friends and loved ones to bolster your self esteem. Some suggestions include:

  • Actively work to appreciate yourself more and begin to celebrate the small things
  • Focus on what your strengths are not your weaknesses
  • Challenge your negative thinking by looking for alternative explanations and try putting things into perspective
  • Avoid doing everything perfectly and look for opportunities to do things imperfectly, remember no one is perfect
  • Do things that make you truly happy 
  • Stop focusing on mistakes you have made, everyone makes them, it’s only human
  • Think about the things you can change and stop focussing on what you can’t
  • Be around people who boost your morale not with people who bring you down or criticise you
  • Stop comparing yourself to those around you. You do you!
  • Be assertive and communicate your needs, feelings, wants, beliefs, opinions. Be direct and honest. 
  • Exercise regularly, it can help improve your mood
  • Volunteer and give back to the community, this can make you feel better about yourself


If your low self esteem continues and you feel like you would like some support, reach out to one of our mental health clinicians here at Inner Psych. Our professionals are able to provide a comprehensive online assessment of your condition and personalise an ongoing treatment to help you take back control of your life.

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