Low Self Esteem

What is self-esteem?
When your self-esteem is low, you feel depressed and hopeless. You see life negatively. Everything seems difficult, or too much trouble. It feels as if the world is a bad place, full of people who will abuse or ignore you, and you feel unable to do anything about it. You see yourself as a victim. You treat other people as potential enemies, or saviours, and sooner or later they treat you badly or let you down. This sets up a vicious circle.

When your self-esteem is high, on the other hand, the world feels like a good place, full of friends, potential pleasures and opportunities. You can assert yourself, ask for what you want and express your feelings. You feel potent, and know that you can make a difference. Other people, in general, respond to your positive attitude, so that, even when you don't get your way, you feel good about yourself and them. This reinforces your self-esteem and stimulates your inner growth.

What we've described are the two ends of a spectrum. If they were shown as two points joined by a line, few of us would say that we live at either end of it. Most of us get through life somewhere near the positive end, and we move up and down it in response to things that happen to us. Events involving loss or threat, such as losing your job, ending a relationship, being bereaved, falling ill or having your house broken into, can give your self-esteem a huge knock.

On the other hand, when you are promoted, fall in love, pass an exam, face a challenge or win a prize, then you feel pleased and proud; your self-esteem is boosted. A healthy person can absorb most knocks to their self-esteem and bounce back, if their basic sense of self is positive.

Some people don't have a positive sense of self, however. It's as if their most comfortable position on this spectrum (the one that they always tend to return to) is at the negative end. When they get a knock, they can't bounce back. They are suffering from chronic low self-esteem. When you accept a limited sense of self worth you may be more prone to drug or alcohol abuse as you struggle to find your worth in the world.

Low self-esteem may also lead to feeling depressed and hopeless, and thinking negatively about yourself and your right to happiness. There is, however, help available to change negative thinking patterns and there are many strategies and techniques available to you build yourself esteem.

You will experience low self esteem at some point in your life (e.g. if you lose your job or relationship) but you can also experience high self esteem at other points in you life too (e.g. if you are promoted, successfully complete a challenge or fall in love). However, if you can't bounce back after your self esteem has been bruised, and constantly feel negative about yourself, you may be suffering from chronic low self-esteem.

Common signs of low self-esteem include feeling tired a lot of the time and having little motivation to get things done, feeling bored with life and feeling you don't have much to look forward to, thinking a lot about yourself and wishing your life was better, thinking negatively about your abilities and possible opportunities, feeling like a failure or feeling hopeless and depressed.

S.M.D Counselling & Psychotherapy Services

in Newport, South Wales