Self-esteem usually refers to how we view and think about ourselves and the value that we place on ourselves as a person. Self-esteem is the degree to which we feel confident, consider ourselves valuable, and respect ourselves, and this greatly affects our well-being. Self-esteem exists on a continuum, from high to low, and low self-esteem is associated with self-doubt, self-criticism, social isolation, suppressed anger, and feelings of shame.
Signs and Symptoms
One of the most common features of low self-esteem is negative self-talk. People with low self-esteem regard themselves critically and may feel a perpetual sense of failure or lack of accomplishment. Feelings of low self-esteem are perpetuated by constantly negatively comparing the self with others. These thought patterns may be so ingrained in a person’s behaviour that he or she does not recognize the frequency with which they occur. With therapy, people are often able to reflect and see that the negative messages are often inaccurate and that they would never say such things to another person.
Low self-esteem is also closely associated with the following conditions and experiences:
- Social anxiety
- General anxiety
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
Treatment for Low Self-Esteem
Therapy sessions frequently address issues like low self-esteem and help individuals to gain a stronger sense of self. Therapy may focus on becoming more assertive, confident, and self-aware. Finding a sense of accomplishment is a huge boost to self-esteem, and therapy can help people identify specific activities that boost confidence and competence. In addition, developing self-compassion through Compassion Focused Therapy can assist in working towards more realistic, achievable goals for themselves and treat themselves with the same kindness and encouragement they would offer others.
Goal-directed forms of therapy are commonly used for people struggling with self-esteem issues. There are many types of therapy that identify a specific goal or outcome for treatment, including brief, solution-focused, and cognitive-behavioral therapies
CBT can be used to identify and focus on underlying and pervasive beliefs about the self linked with low self-esteem. CBT will assist in exploring these and rebuilding healthier core beliefs leading to developing a healthier more positive self-esteem.