It is normal to experience some self-doubt or a lack of confidence sometimes, however when you have ongoing self-esteem issues, it can have a significant and a negative impact on your mental health and your life.
Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. This can be a positive feeling about our achievements, qualities and who we are. However, a poor self-image can focus on all the things we cannot do, our short comings and everything we have ever got wrong. These negative opinions of our self can affect our relationships with partners by making us question why would they want to be with us? We wonder why anyone would want to be friends with us. Self-esteem issues can influence relationship decisions we make or choices about our career or even our hobbies and interests, preventing us from doing things we want to do or from trying out new experiences.
These thoughts can result in a pessimistic view of the world. We rebuff any praise or compliment, convincing ourselves that ‘they don’t mean it’.
Sometimes our own critical thinking or ‘critical voice’ is deafening, beating us down, stopping us in our tracks and telling us we are failures.
Types of self-esteem issues
We might have negative opinions of ourselves regarding our potential, the way we look – our physical features, particularly our face, or we may have issues with our body or aspects of our body. We might also hold self-opinions that we are not funny, clever, interesting or outgoing enough.
How might I feel?
Common signs and symptoms of self-esteem issues can include:
- Feeling inadequate
- Comparing ourselves to others who we believe are better than us
- Finding it difficult to accept complements or positive feedback
- Disliking or sometimes hating ourselves
What do other people say about it?
Clients will often question why people are friends with them or why people engage with them – they will often say it is because ’they have to’ or when they receive positive feedback or a complement they assume ‘they don’t really mean it’.
Some clients describe a feeling that ‘everyone is watching’ or ‘everyone is judging’ them and some feel quite crippled by this overwhelming sensation.
Ways in which self esteem issues can affect me…
Poor self-esteem can result in very negative self-talk – like an internal critic finding fault in everything we do, shouting at us or being very sarcastic. This self-talk compounds and further fuels the negative opinions we have of ourselves. Self esteem issues can hold us back, supress us, put barriers in the way of success and dictate our life choices; we don’t apply for the job because we won’t get it anyway, we don’t go out with friends because they don’t really want to be around us.
Self Esteem Self Help, what can I do?
It can help to reflect on and write down all of the things that you have achieved in your life so far. Poor self-esteem makes us focus on negatives and we forget the good things we have done along the way. Think about the times that you have helped someone, made someone’s day better or when you have been kind to someone. Try and notice when the critical voice takes over and shout ‘stop’, to start to help break the cycle.
Making time to rest and breathing or relaxation techniques can help – see our self help guides for some ideas
How can we support you?
We have specialist self-esteem counsellors who are experts in supporting clients with these issues. We can support you with techniques to help manage your thoughts and quieten the unhelpful, critical voice that’s holding you back.