Self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself. When you have healthy self-esteem, you tend to think positively about yourself, and optimistically about life in general. People with healthy self-esteem know that they are valuable, and will be able to name at least some of their positive qualities, such as “I am a good friend”, “I am kind”, “I am honest”, or “I am
a good father”.
When you have low self-esteem, you tend to see yourself, the world, and your future more negatively and critically. You might feel anxious, sad, low, or unmotivated. When you encounter challenges, you may doubt whether you will be able to rise to them. You might talk to yourself harshly in your mind, telling yourself things like “You’re stupid”, “You’ll never manage this”, or “I don’t amount to anything”.
Your self-esteem affects how you live your life, but it is fragile. If you have low selfesteem, you might be always trying to please other people, or go ‘above and beyond’ at work or with your friends and family. As long as you keep meeting these standards you may feel OK, but there will inevitably be times when it’s not possible to do so, and this can quickly leave you feeling low and anxious.
Self-esteem exists on a spectrum. Some people with low self-esteem find that it only affects them with certain people, or in certain situations. Other people find that their self-esteem colors everything they do.
Low self-esteem affects many people, and may make you more vulnerable to struggling with other mental health problems. Fortunately, there are helpful psychological approaches for improving your self-esteem. We can help.