top of page

What is Self-esteem?

Self-esteem refers to how we view ourselves, our identity, and what makes you ‘You’.

Take a moment to think about how you would describe yourself? What words would you use?

Was your description mainly positive, negative or a balance of both?

The way we describe ourselves is often taken as fact about our identity. It determines your self-worth and self-respect. In other words, do you like yourself?

If the answer to that is “Not really", and you find your description was sounding negative, then you may be experiencing low self-esteem.

  • You might be more focused on your flaws and weaknesses.

  • Dismiss your good qualities.

  • Reject any credit for achievements, maybe putting it down to luck

  • Avoid competitive situations for fear of being judged.

  • It is common with low self-esteem to listen to your inner critical voice.

  • Avoid challenges.

  • Have a withdrawn body language, and struggle to be assertive in situations.

  • Experience shame, guilt, anger and frustration

  • Have issues with a self-care routine, and either be less likely to take care of yourself and your health, or the opposite spending hours perfecting it.

Where does self-esteem come from?

  • Your past - Your sense of self is generated through internalising comments from those around you in your past, and how you see yourself now. What were your experiences, what were you told as a child, and when growing up? Were you told you were helpful, kind, naughty, always late, a fidget, incompetent? Comments you remember and identify with today.

  • Your present - How you perceived things now can influence your beliefs about yourself. Your beliefs can then guide your behaviour, which in turn can then reinforce your belief. For example: if you have a negative sense of self, and a core belief that “I am stupid”, you may think that “I must do everything perfectly, without making any mistakes.” If you behave this way, then your belief of “I am stupid” will not be proven true. If, however, you come across occasions where you are not able to complete tasks perfectly and make mistakes, then your core belief of “I am stupid” is triggered. When that core belief is triggered on more than one occasion it gains more evidence to support it. This will continually knock your sense of self, creating low self-esteem.

  • A sense of self can also be built from the groups we relate to such as: ethnicity, professional role, family role, activities and hobbies, and qualities. For example: “I am a British woman, a wife and mother in my 40s, I am a therapist, I enjoy Tai chi and swimming”.

What does a Healthy self-esteem look like?

To have a balanced view of yourself, to feel worthy.

What can help my self-esteem?

1) Avoid comparing yourself against others that you feel are doing better than you.

2) Make a list of positive attributes:

· What do I like about me?

· What positive characteristics, skills and talents do I have?

· Make a list of your achievements and challenges you have overcome.

· What do others say they like about me?

3) Check in with your body language. It has been suggested in some research that by standing taller and more confidently, it can boost your mood. It raises your eye level to engage more with the environment around you.

4) Work towards self-acceptance and a compassionate approach – what would you say to a friend in the same situation so you can begin to challenge that inner critic.

5) Focus on your breath, take a look at box breathing or the 4,7,8 technique on some of my other blogs

6) Get moving – getting more active can release those feel good hormones to boosts your mood.

7) Have a go at finding alternatives to what are you saying to yourself – instead of ‘I should…….’ or ‘I must…..’ which are rigid rules, try “I could….” or “It could help if I…..”.

8) Explore any negative core beliefs to create a new balanced core belief

It can help to acknowledge your predictions of the worst-case scenario in situations, making you feel anxious so you are more inclined to avoid. You can then explore a more balanced outlook: What are other ways to view the situation? If I was not feeling this way, how might I perceive the situation? Does it help me to think this way?

If you would like to know more about anxiety, self-esteem, managing spiralling thoughts; and to learn strategies that could help, then contact me at or use my contact form on the home page

Images: Istock: Rudzhan Nagiev


bottom of page