What is Self Esteem?

22 January 2024by crbwebsite0

How to feel better about yourself


Self-esteem can be high or low – or somewhere in the middle. It sort of sounds a bit like a thermostat. With feeling warm and toasty or cold and gloomy. But what is self-esteem?

Basically, it’s a fundamental aspect of your mental well-being.  It shapes the way you perceive yourself and navigate the world around you. It is the overall opinion you have about yourself and your worth. All in all it’s how you feel about you.

What causes Low Self-Esteem?

Several factors can generally contribute to the development of low self confidence, including:

Overly Criticized as a Child

Constant criticism during childhood can significantly impact self-esteem, creating a pattern of negative self-perception.

Emotionally immature or emotionally unavailable / cold parents

Lack of emotional support and warmth from parents can consequently contribute to a diminished sense of self-worth. Children will mainly blame themselves as it’s the easiest way to understand the situation. The child grows up feeling that something was ‘wrong’ with them if they were unable to get their needs met as a child. Despite it often being literally nothing to do the child.

Neglect and Bullying

Experiences of neglect or bullying, whether at home or in school, have lasting effects on self worth. If you actively felt unwanted or put down, then it becomes very easy to see yourself through that persons’ eyes. As not worth much, and consequently breeding feelings of low self esteem.

Difficulty Fitting In or Achieving Parents’ Expectations

Struggling to meet societal expectations or parental standards can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Often parental expectations are just ‘known’, they may not be explicitly said. But you know what is expected of you.Therefore this can make it twice as hard if you can’t or don’t want to meet those expectations, and things aren’t really spoken about openly. They are just implied. In essence creating feelings of not being good enough, rather than opening up communication channels for more connection and understanding.

Social Media Ideals

Comparing yourself to idealized images or lifestyles on social media can contribute to unrealistic standards and negatively impact self regard. In reality most of what you will see on social media isn’t the whole truth, cannot be sustained and quite often is incredibly unhealthy. While telling you it’s ‘inspirational’ its actually taking a large chunk out of your self esteem.

Signs of low self esteem

Sensitivity to Criticism and Inability to Forget Hurtful Comments

Criticism can deeply affect those with low self esteem. Subsequently you may replay negative comments repeatedly, unable to let go of the emotional impact.

Comparisons to Others

Constantly measuring yourself against others can lead to feelings of inadequacy. In particular those that you somehow consider ‘better’ than you can perpetuate a sense of not being good enough. Another sign is putting others down to feel better about yourself.

Difficulty Accepting Compliments

Compliments can feel uncomfortable, insincere, or undeserved. Low self-esteem means positive feedback is dismissed and the compliment is not received graciously. As a result something intended as kind or positive actually makes you feel worse.

Poor Boundaries

Overcommitting, feeling overwhelmed, and sacrificing personal well-being for the sake of others are the consequences of poor boundaries. As a result of not putting yourself first, not wanting to let others down or knowing your own limits your self esteem will be affected.

Discomfort at Being the Centre of Attention

Feeling uneasy or anxious when in the spotlight, such as during birthdays. Therefore avoiding attention and staying in the background feels safer.

Social Withdrawal

Avoiding judgment and rejection can thereupon lead to social withdrawal or isolation, limiting meaningful relationships.

Excessive Risk-Taking

Surprisingly in a bit of a twist engaging in risky behaviours can be seen as a way to seek validation or cope with  insecurities if you have low self-esteem

Being a People Pleaser

Constantly seeking approval from others and prioritizing their needs over yours can equally indicate low self-esteem.

Lack of Control, Fear of Failure, and Indecisiveness

If experiencing these traits then they often stem from a fear of making mistakes and a belief that you won’t succeed.

Shame and Putting Yourself Down

A sense of shame and self-deprecation are indeed common with low self-esteem.

Saying Sorry All the Time

Excessive apologizing, even for trivial matters, is a way some people with low self-esteem seek to avoid conflict or disapproval.

The effects of low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can create persistent self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and a heightened fear of judgment or rejection. Furthermore your relationships may struggle with intimacy and trust. Likewise asserting your needs can be very difficult. At work your productivity may be hindered and limit career development. Socially, it may lead to withdrawal, difficulty forming connections, and a reluctance to engage in new experiences. Additionally, low self-esteem is closely linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, amplifying the impact on overall well-being. Addressing and improving self-esteem is crucial for fostering healthier relationships, achieving personal and professional goals, and cultivating a more positive and fulfilling life.

How to Improve Self-Esteem

Focus on Strengths

Reflect on your strengths and acknowledge your achievements. Celebrate the positive.

Challenge Negative Thinking

Identify and challenge negative thoughts. Replace self-critical thoughts with more positive and realistic ones.

Gain Perspective

Take a step back to gain a different perspective on situations.

Engage in Enjoyable Activities

Participate in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Cultivate hobbies that contribute positively to your well-being.

Learn to Let Go of Mistakes

Understand that everyone makes mistakes. Accept them, learn from them, and let go of the guilt or shame associated with them.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Build a network of friends and family who uplift and support you.

Incorporate Exercise and Creative Activities

Physical activity and creative pursuits can boost confidence and provide a positive outlet for self-expression.

Embrace Imperfection

Release the need for perfection. Understand that imperfections are part of being human.

Explore your feelings

Counselling allows you to talk about your emotions in a safe confidential supportive relationship, which builds self-awareness and helps to understand your feelings. Knowing how you truly feel on a deep level, the ‘inside stuff’ helps increase your chance to make any changes you need.


Recognising and addressing low self-esteem is a crucial step toward building a healthier, more positive sense of self. By understanding the signs, causes, and effects of low self-esteem, you can take proactive steps to improve your mental well-being and foster more positive relationships with yourself and others.

After all the relationship you have with yourself is the cornerstone to every relationship you will have in your whole life.

If life has had an impact on your self esteem, please click on the contact page to get in touch see how I can help you.

About the author: Chris Boobier is the owner of CRB Counselling specialising in anxiety, trauma, Bereavement & loss. Supporting adults and adolescents, she is passionate about helping people be their authentic self through counselling.

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