Self-esteem is how a person feels about themselves when they consider all of their successes, abilities and flaws.  People with healthy self-esteem feel good about themselves and see themselves as deserving of others’ respect.

Those with low self-esteem place little value on their opinions and ideas and worry that they aren’t good enough.  Relationships with family members, peers, teachers and others close to you are key to developing a healthy self-esteem.  Beliefs people hold about themselves usually reflect messages they have received from people over time.  If your close relationships are healthy and you generally receive positive feedback, you’re more likely to see yourself as worthwhile.  However, if you receive mostly negative feedback, are often criticized, teased or devalued by others, you’re more likely to struggle with poor self-esteem.

Influences that shape self-esteem start forming early in life.  Such influencing factors include:

  • Others’ reactions to you
  • Your own thoughts and perceptions
  • School and extracurricular experiences
  • Work experiences
  • Illness, disability or injury
  • Culture
  • Religion
  • Role and status in society

Your own thoughts have a significant impact on your self-esteem and are one aspect of self-esteem that you can control.  Techniques such as cognitive behavioral training can help you re-frame negative thinking and correct these negative perceptions that lead you to focus on your weaknesses or flaws.

Although self-esteem fluctuates over time it generally stays in a range – from very positive to very negative – that reflects how you feel about yourself overall.  Neither extreme is healthy.  If you regard yourself more highly than others, you may have an unrealistically positive view of yourself and feel superior to others.  Such feelings can lead you to become arrogant or self-indulgent and believe that you deserve special privileges.  People with low self-esteem may feel like a failure, believing that they can’t do anything right.  They also may be preoccupied with their flaws and need constant reassurance from others.  Those with low self-esteem may suffer from a fear of failure, which may interfere work or school.   Healthy self-esteem lies between these two extremes leading to an accurate view of yourself.  When you understand your own worth, you invite the respect of others.

People with healthy self-esteem are less likely to feel hopeless, worthless, guilty and shameful.  They are usually able to make good decisions, form healthy relationships, and share their needs and opinions.  Individuals with low self esteem are more likely to develop mental health conditions, such as eating disorders, addictions, depression and anxiety.
Treatment for Low Self-Esteem

Many people suffer with low self-esteem.  Fortunately, psychotherapy and counseling can help.  Other steps that may help you improve your self-esteem include:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Avoid unhealthy habits and vices
  • Try to focus on your strengths
  • Reach out to family and friends for support

If you have low self-esteem and your friends and family can’t help you boost your confidence, it is time to seek professional help.  Please call an iTherapy counselor to schedule an appointment.

Self Tests

See Also

  • Self-Assessment

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Self Esteem Counselors