Self-esteem refers to the set of beliefs you have about yourself -- your abilities
and the type of person you are. People with a healthy self-esteem hold mostly
positive beliefs about themselves. Those with low self-esteem will generally
have negative opinions, focusing on their weaknesses or the mistakes that they
have made. They may find it hard to recognize the positive aspects of their
personality or blame themselves for any failures they have had. Low self-esteem
is not a recognized mental health problem, but self-esteem and mental health
are closely related.
Signs & Symptoms
You may be experiencing low self-esteem if you:
- Have negative thinking patterns, such as assuming you will fail
at things you do
- Find it hard to try new things or complete tasks
- Feel increasingly socially isolated
- Feel you are not living your life the way you want
- Have developed unhealthy coping strategies, such as forming toxic relationships
or engaging in substance abuse
Low self-esteem can cause feelings of anxiety and depression that can develop
into mental health problems over time.
Some mental health problems, such as depression and social phobia, can also
cause low self-esteem. They can make it difficult to maintain a job or perform
simple tasks, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. There
is also a social stigma associated with mental health problems, which could
also result in a negative opinion about yourself.
Tips & Recommendations
To build your self-esteem, you need to change the negative beliefs you have
about yourself. There are many ways to do this.
- Do something you enjoy – We are generally good at doing things
we enjoy, and routinely engaging in them can help build your confidence.
Build positive relationships – Spend time with positive and supportive
people who will not criticize you, and who encourage you to talk to about
your feelings. Positivity can help you have a better self-image and feel
At the same time, being caring and supportive of other people will help you
feel better about yourself and how other people perceive you.
- Be more assertive - Being assertive means you value yourself and
can express how you are feeling.
Take care of yourself – Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ hormones
that can help improve your mood. Eating a well-balanced diet will help
you to feel healthier and happier. And be sure to get enough sleep---insomnia
can cause negative thoughts and feelings.
Set goals – Giving yourself an achievable goal can improve your self-esteem
when you meet the challenge.
If you still have feelings of low self-esteem, Marriage and Family Therapists
(MFTS) can help you manage your feelings and learn techniques to help you live
a more satisfying and productive life.
Mind.org: Consequences of Low Self-Esteem
SAMHSA: Building Self Esteem, A Self-Help Guide