Self-esteem refers to how you perceive yourself. People with healthy self-esteem have a good opinion about themselves and are proud of their achievements. Everyone goes through highs and lows of confidence occasionally. However, people with low self-esteem have a persistent feeling of unhappiness or remain unsatisfied with themselves.

Characteristics of low self-esteem

You are likely to have the following thinking patterns if you have low self-esteem

  • Extremely critical of yourself
  • Downplay or ignore the positive qualities that you have
  • Judge yourself to be inferior to your peers
  • Use negative words to describe yourself (loudly or in your thoughts) such as stupid, disgusting, lazy, boring
  • Have negative self-talk with yourself in which you criticise and blame yourself
  • Assume that luck and not your efforts are largely responsible for your achievements
  • Blame yourself for things going wrong instead of doing a factual analysis of the causes, such as actions of other people and external forces
  • Do not believe, when another person compliments you.

Effect of low self-esteem on life

If you suffer from low self-esteem, you are likely to lead a poor quality of life with following characteristics

  • Negative feelings – Your constant self-criticism of yourself will lead to persistent experience of sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, shame or guilt.
  • Relationship problems – you may tolerate improper behaviour of your partner from your belief that you must earn love and friendship. Alternatively, you may bully others or tend to have outbursts of anger.
  • Fears of trying – you may doubt your worth or abilities and procrastinate taking up any new venture.
  • Perfectionism – you may push yourself to become an over-achiever to remedy feelings of inferiority experienced by you.
  • Fear of judgement – you may avoid group activities, such as sports or social events, due to your fear of being negatively judged. You are likely to feel self-conscious and look out for signs that others don’t like you.
  • Low resilience – You will find it hard to cope with trying or challenging circumstances in life, because you consider yourself to be ‘hopeless’
  • Lack of self-care – You may refuse to care for yourself, such as by drinking too much alcohol, or overworking yourself and not looking after your physical health.
  • Self-harming behaviours – you may self-harm yourself by developing an eating disorder like binge eating, substance abuse disorder or try to commit suicide.

Causes of low self-esteem

Some causes of low self-esteem are:

  • Having peers that have done far better in life than you
  • Having parents whose achievements are far higher than yours
  • Unhappy childhood with experience of parents / siblings / cousins / friends being highly critical of you
  • Having stressful events in life such as a relationship breakdown or financial troubles
  • You are receiving poor treatment from your partner / parent / carer or maybe you are in an abusive relationship.
  • You are going through medical problems such as chronic pain, cancer or physical disability
  • You are experiencing a mental illness such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Some prominent ones that have been discussed in the video below.

Treatment options

Firstly educate yourself about the tools for improving self-esteem. You may want to watch “The six pillars of self esteem” video given below.

You should also seek an appointment with our psychologists. Through proper diagnosis and clinical interview they will develop a personalised treatment plan to help you overcome these problems.

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