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JMC Psychotherapy, Bolton –
What is self esteem?

Self esteem is the degree to which you value yourself. It can also be described as faith in yourself, pride, and self assurance.

How do I know if my self esteem is low?

You may find that you often tell yourself that you are disappointed in yourself and that you fail more than the average person. You may be highly critical of your weaknesses or mistakes. Your level of self esteem might vary according to where you are. It’s not unusual to have high self esteem at work and then low self esteem at home, and vice versa.
A very quick rule of thumb is to ask yourself where you put your self esteem on a scale of 1 to 10 (where one is very low and ten is very high). If it is at the lower end of the scale, then ask yourself why couldn’t it be higher.

Is self confidence the same as self esteem?

Self confidence is a measure of how much you believe in your skills and abilities.

Self esteem is a measure of how much you feel you are worthy and how much you love yourself.

People with high self confidence and low self esteem will strive at what they do well because that is how they will ‘earn’ love and respect. However, this can be a trap because without self worth they will not know when they have done enough.
High self esteem helps you to “be yourself”, handle adversity, and believe that you’ll win through, despite setbacks and obstacles. It’s an inner force that sustains you, and gives you the courage you need in order to be the person you want to be.

Low Self Esteem & Self Doubt

Low self esteem has the opposite effect. It’s connected to self doubt, and to a general feeling that you’re not good enough to meet life’s many challenges. If you have low self esteem, you may believe that you aren’t capable of achieving your dreams, and you may even believe that you shouldn’t dream at all. In fact, low self esteem is the cause of many mental disorders, and it can be associated with a variety of negative emotions, including anxiety, sadness, hostility, shame, embarrassment, loneliness and lack of spontaneity.

Many factors, both current and historical, can affect self esteem.  
Current factors affecting your self esteem may include:

  • Thinking that you are simply no good at anything.
  • Feeling you do not have much of which you can be proud.
  • Feeling useless, either some or most of the time.
  • Wishing you could have more respect for yourself.
  • Being inclined to feeling that you are a failure.

Historical factors affecting your self esteem may go back to childhood and include:

  • Abuse.
  • Receiving inappropriate punishments.
  • Failing to meet parental or peer group standards.
  • Feeling the odd one out at home or school.
  • An absence of validation, warmth, love and praise.
  • Being on the receiving end of other people’s distress.

It is important to know and explore your core beliefs. These are beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general. You may believe you are useless, stupid and unlovable. You may believe that others may be smarter, more intelligent, and more successful and that the world is dangerous, hostile, or too difficult.

We may without even realising it be giving ourselves criticism.  Ask yourself what is the effect of thinking this way about yourself (it obviously has a detrimental effect) and what is the reason for telling yourself you’re stupid.

What can I do to boost my self esteem?

  • Notice qualities in others and then notice them in yourself
  • Notice what qualities about yourself you are discounting, such as being organised.
  • Don’t discount such qualities!
  • Imagine how a friend would describe you
  • Identify the negative chatter you are giving yourself, and eradicate it.
  • Ask what it would be like if someone added a positive to all those negatives you associate with yourself.

How can psychotherapy help you?

Self esteem affects our daily life; it can be the underlying cause of many issues and it may even affect how we deal with anger issues (see anger management). There are many reasons why self esteem may be low. Psychotherapy explores the root cause, and also provides down to earth strategies to help you in daily life.

See also Articles on Psychological Games & Assertiveness

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I am frequently contacted by visitors to my website who feel that they need a consultation but live some distance from my office in Bolton, Greater Manchester. If you feel that you would benefit from a telephone conversation, please visit Psychotherapy Consultations – Online Payment page to see how it works.


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