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Integrated, solution-focussed therapy

Self-Esteem — is it working for you or against you?

01. Feb. 2018 by Valerie Walker

Dandelion flower. © Photo by Andrew J. Grant. Reproduced with kind permission.

In a world that now seems to encourage self-obsession, the term self-esteem is constantly bandied about, but do you understand what self-esteem really is and why it is so important to you?

Self-esteem is a measure of your overall sense of self-worth or personal value.  It reflects how much you appreciate and like yourself and the value you think others place on you.  It can involve a variety of thoughts about yourself, such as the appraisal of your appearance, your beliefs, your behaviours and has a direct impact on your emotional well-being. Consequently, it directly affects your behaviour and thoughts and can change how you feel about or value yourself. It affects your confidence and thinking in a big way, causing your outlook to be either positive or negative.  Your self-esteem is a key driver behind the motivation you have for success in life and your ability to move forward positively and confidently towards your goals.  Making sure you take care of your self-esteem should be a major priority in your life.

We can all be harsh critics of ourselves, but there is a difference between being self-critical to affect a positive change or avoid repeating mistakes, to the type of criticism that allows your own thoughts, and those of others, to have a detrimental effect on how you value yourself as a person. So how do you recognise if your self-esteem is holding you back in life?   There are several signs that could be an indication that you do have a low sense of self-esteem and it's important to recognise these in yourself.

Some of the signs of low self-esteem include:

  • Social withdrawal or a lack of social skills.
  • Bouts of sadness.
  • An inability to accept compliments.
  • Focussing on the negative.
  • A reluctance to put yourself first.
  • Constantly worrying about what others think of you.
  • Persistent under-achieving. 

Some of the more serious consequences of long term low self-esteem include self-neglect, eating disorders and self-harming.

If you have a tendency towards negative, rather than positive thinking, then the likelihood of you having, or developing, a low self-esteem is much higher.  Negative thinking alone can be detrimental to your emotional and physical well-being in many ways resulting in:

  • Less happiness and enjoyment in life
  • Self-destructive tendencies: If you see little or no value in yourself, you are less likely to take care of yourself and more likely to tolerate people abusing you.
  • Less confidence leading to less success in life
  • More stress and anxiety: If you are unable to see a positive value in yourself and your capabilities, it's naturally harder for you to accept and manage challenges in life.

Positive thinking is the first step to improving your self-esteem, but it is not always as easy as it sounds.   It is almost impossible to argue yourself out of low self-esteem as the conviction of being worthless is so strong.  You need to find ways of creating uncertainty in that conviction and adopting a more positive approach to life.  It's time to replace those damaging negative thoughts about yourself with much more positive ones! Simple things such as; focussing on the positives in your life, creating meaning and purpose through personal goals, engaging in activities you enjoy, allowing yourself to celebrate success, and, most importantly, not comparing yourself to others will all help.  

Unfortunately, for many people, the habit of low self-esteem can be a difficult one to break on their own.  Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnotherapy and BWRT all have techniques that can enable you to change how you think about yourself and give you the confidence and belief you need to banish those negative thoughts and replacing your “can’t do” mind-set with a “can-do” one.

Remember your potential to achieve what you most desire is directly related to having a good sense of self-esteem, so it is important to create that! You always have the ultimate, final say on how you choose to think about yourself, regardless of what has happened to you, and regardless of how anyone else wants you to think about you, so why not choose to be your own biggest champion?