Low self-esteem is when a person doesn’t feel confident in who they are and what they can do, viewing themselves as incapable, inadequate and unworthy.
Low self-esteem is when a person doesn’t feel confident in who they are and what they can do. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to suffer from low self-esteem. A person may view themselves as incapable, inadequate and unworthy. Signs, causes, and ways to address self-esteem will be discussed below.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem:
- Feeling insecure
- Feeling bad about yourself, lacking confidence
- People pleasing
- Needing approval, validation, and reassurance from others
- Difficulty making decisions due to lack of trusting yourself
- Don't maintain your boundaries
- Comparing yourself to others
- Feeling powerless, like you don’t have much control of your life
- Self-doubt and worry
Causes of Low Self-Esteem:
- Traumatic experiences including parent divorce, sexual, physical or emotional abuse from childhood or intimate partner violence/domestic violence, emotional neglect by parents or caregivers and being bullied
- Social beauty standards
- Academic challenges
- Low socioeconomic status
- A mental health disorder
If left unaddressed, low self-esteem can lead to mental health disorders such as major depression, social anxiety, and substance use disorders. If you’re struggling with depression or another mental health disorder, seek outside support such as talking to your primary care doctor or see a therapist. If you’re experiencing any thoughts of death or suicide, please call or text The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
There are ways you can start to take action to improve your self-esteem.
These are not quick fixes, but with regular practice you’ll develop a better sense of who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you deserve from yourself and your relationships.
- Get to know yourself by exploring what you’re interested in. Doing so will help you discover new things about yourself such as what you like, dislike and what your values are.
- Practice self-acceptance. Learning to accept ourselves for who we are is one of the first steps to improving how you feel about yourself.
- Practice self-compassion by starting to radically and intentionally approving of yourself. Work toward letting go of seeking the approval or validation from others and instead cultivate approving of and validating yourself.
- Reflect and acknowledge your strengths, good qualities, skills, talents, accomplishments and times of resilience. Write them down and remind yourself of your strengths when feeling down on yourself.
- Practice helpful thinking and encouraging self-talk. Work on challenging your inner critic or bully. Begin to notice when you’re talking badly to yourself and change the dialogue. Practicing positive affirmation statements can also help.
- Practice self-care. Moving your body, eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and managing stress will help promote a general sense of wellbeing and when you make yourself a priority, you begin to feel more worthy of care.
- Practice being kind to yourself and meeting your own needs when you need them.
- Practice assertiveness, learn to set and stick to your boundaries, and work on stopping being a people pleaser.
- Work toward being your most authentic self.
- Do acts of kindness for others such as volunteering.
- Take on a new challenge to show yourself you’re able to accomplish new things you set your mind to.
NHS. “Raising Low Self-Esteem.” Nhs.uk, 1 Feb. 2021, www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and-support/raise-low-self-esteem/.
Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW
CHE Quality Assurance Associate
Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental health field for over a decade and now works in clinical quality assurance with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her partner, Justin, and their three pets. She likes music, singing, art, exercise, reading, getting outdoors, and trying new restaurants.