Self Esteem Therapy

What is self esteem?

Having a sense of healthy self esteem generally means that for most of the time, we have a sense of ourselves as a valuable human being who can appreciate our own positive qualities as well as those in others.

More specific signs of healthy self esteem include:

  • Self acceptance – including our personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Feeling positive most of the time
  • Seeing ourselves as being in control of our own lives
  • Having the belief that we are usually able to achieve our goals
  • Viewing ourselves as a competent person
  • Having a hopeful and positive attitude
  • Being able to maintain fulfilling and satisfying relationships
  • Ability to be assertive
  • Feeling resilient when things go wrong, especially in difficult times

Generally speaking, the way we experience our lives is shaped by the accumulation of our experiences from the time that we are born to the present moment. Whilst all life experiences impact upon us in one way or another, the time of life when we are most shaped by our experience is when we are children.

What is low self esteem?

As one might imagine, having low self esteem means experiencing ourselves and the world at the other end of the self esteem spectrum. Typically, when we suffer from low self esteem, signs will include:

  • Feeling not good enough
  • Finding fault with ourselves
  • Finding it difficult to see our own good qualities (and often seeing them in others instead)
  • Lacking in confidence
  • Tendency for sadness, anxiety or depression
  • Lacking belief in our own abilities
  • Having self image difficulties
  • Difficulty in asking for what we want and being assertive
  • Experiencing ourselves as the victim of other peoples actions

What can cause low self esteem?

The childhood experiences that commonly lead to low self esteem include:

  • Having our emotional, psychological or physical needs ignored.
  • Being criticised, threatened, called names or bullied
  • Being punished or threatened with punishment (living in fear)
  • Exposure to domestic violence between parents
  • Having a sibling favoured by a parent
  • Being blamed for things that were not our fault
  • Being forced to do things that were our parents choices and not our own (school subjects, sports, hobbies, career)
  • Significant losses

Even if we grow up with a good sense of self esteem, situations in adulthood can also significantly affect our self esteem, be it temporarily or for longer periods of time. These can include:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The end of a relationship
  • Becoming seriously ill
  • Losing a job
  • Being bullied or constantly undermined at work
  • Being the victim of prejudice
  • Being involved in a traumatic incident

Low self esteem is unique to everyone and the way in which the therapist works with this issue will be planned to meet their individual needs. However, generally speaking, counselling and psychotherapy helps to lessen the impact of the negative self beliefs and self images that were developed and to bring improvement in the following areas:

  • Self acceptance and self worth
  • The ability to manage difficult feelings
  • Relationship/intimacy skills, development of enjoyable and satisfying relationships and social network
  • Acknowledgement and appreciation of positive attributes and abilities
  • Ability to talk positively to one’s self (as opposed to criticising one’s self)
  • Ability to express feelings and emotions
  • Ability to ask for what one wants and being assertive
  • Ability to take charge of one’s own life