top of page

Home  >> Problems  >>

Low Self Esteem

What is low self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how individuals perceive and value themselves. When self-esteem is low, this can result in more critical self-evaluation. This can include self-criticism and negative comparisons with others, including persistent beliefs about, for example, not being good/interesting/attractive enough. Low self-esteem often begins in childhood and is influenced by early experiences and expectations, difficult life events and personality traits.  

If you are experiencing low self-esteem, you may feel that you are not worthy of consideration, love or respect. Low self-esteem can lead to underestimating your own capacities and skills and avoiding challenging situations. Having low self-esteem can also result in blaming yourself when something goes wrong while attributing good fortune to external influences. Low self-esteem could mean that you expect dislike and criticism from others and experience interactions as critical even if this was not the other person’s intention.  

These interpretations can have repercussions in every area of your life. For example, you may find it hard to ask for help when you need it, feeling that an admission of need is just another sign of failure. You might find it difficult to make decisions, always worrying that you will make a mistake. You may also be drawn to people who mistreat you, as this is what you have come to expect for yourself. Low self-esteem can prevent people from being as happy as they could be and living a fulfilling life. 

How common is Low Self Esteem?

Low self-esteem is very common and is estimated to affect up to 85% of people to some extent. It is a feature of many mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.  

What is the treatment for low self-esteem?

Identifying and challenging negative beliefs can help to improve self-esteem; after evaluating existing beliefs, it is possible to moving towards more positive self-interpretations. Increasing assertiveness and facing challenges can also help to improve self-esteem and self-worth.  

CBT with a focus on self-esteem can work towards these and other goals with techniques including: 

  • Challenging and changing beliefs through testing out beliefs and identifying alternative interpretations 

  • Identifying core beliefs developed in childhood and replacing these with more balanced and helpful alternatives 

  • Developing a new set of helpful behaviours 

  • Social skills training 

  • Assertiveness training 

  • Role play 

  • Mindfulness training 

bottom of page