Self-esteem is one’s subjective evaluation of their worth. People with healthy self-esteem view themselves as worthy and valuable. They recognize their strengths and they do not let their mistakes or shortcomings define them. Measuring self-esteem is difficult, but some studies suggest that as many as 85% of Americans feel that they don’t measure up.


Signs and Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem:


Common signs of low self-esteem are as follows. You do not need to experience all of these symptoms in order to seek treatment for low self-esteem.

  • Self-deprecating thoughts or statements

  • Feeling unworthy or unvaluable

  • Believing that there is nothing good about oneself

  • Focusing on one’s own shortcomings and ignoring one’s strengths and achievements

  • Apologizing or feeling guilty for minor infractions or things that are not one’s fault

  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism

  • Difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries


Causes of Low Self-Esteem:


Low self-esteem can be caused by several factors throughout one’s life. All causes of low self-esteem are environmental, which means that nobody is born with a low self-esteem, and anybody can improve their self-esteem. Here are a few example of factors that can lead to low self-esteem:


  • Parenting Style

  • Child abuse / Negligent parents

  • Bullying

  • Trauma

  • Experiences of Rejection

  • Perfectionism

  • Messages from the Media (particularly about appearance)

  • Capitalism

  • Individualistic Cultural Norms

  • Discrimination / Inequality

  • And More


Treatment for Low Self-Esteem:


Treatment for low self-esteem must include a combination of identifying strengths, challenging the inner critic, and regularly engaging in acts of self-compassion. Though improving self-esteem may at first seem like a feel-good process, often it is uncomfortable and challenging. Many individuals with low self-esteem believe they have few or no strengths and are uncomfortable speaking positively about themselves. Therefore, the process of identifying and reflecting on their individual strengths can be very difficult. Effective therapy will help you identify your strengths even if you believe you have none, and it will help you systematically grow more accustomed to positive self-talk. Therapy will also help you identify and challenge your inner critic. Many people with low self-esteem fear that if they challenge their inner critic, they will have no motivation or accountability to make progress. Treatment will help you work through these reservations by helping you find a balance between accountability and kindness (likely the same balance you give freely to others). Finally, treatment will help you engage in regular acts of self-compassion. The following is a non-exhaustive list of self-compassionate acts:


  • Identifying and acknowledging strengths

  • Accepting compliments

  • Setting and maintaining personal boundaries in relationships

  • Practicing assertive communication

  • Saying "no"

  • Asking for help

  • Practicing regular self-care

  • Maintaining composure after making mistakes

  • Trusting their judgement


If you feel that you need support identifying your strengths, challenging your inner critic, engaging in acts of self-compassion, or overcoming any of the above signs of self-esteem, reach out to schedule a consultation!