Symptoms of low self-esteem
If you have low self-esteem or low confidence, you may hide yourself away from social situations, stop trying new things and avoid things you find challenging.
"In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations makes you feel a lot safer," says Chris Williams, Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow.
"In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things."
Living with low self-esteem can harm your mental health, leading to problems like depression and anxiety.
You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as smoking and drinking too much, as a way of coping.
A bit more info
Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us messages about ourselves, both positive and negative. For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.
Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations of you, or to your own expectations.
Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem.
Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves.
What can be done to treat low self-esteem
To boost your self-esteem, you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself, then challenge them.
You may tell yourself you are "too stupid" to apply for a new job, for example, or that "nobody cares" about you.
Start to note these negative thoughts and write them down on a piece of paper or in a diary. Ask yourself when you first started to think these thoughts.
Next, start to write down evidence that challenges these negative beliefs: "I am really good at cryptic crosswords" or "My sister calls for a chat every week".
Write down other positive things about yourself, such as "I am thoughtful" or "I am a great cook" or "I am someone that others trust".
Also write down good things that other people say about you.
Aim to have at least five things on your list and add to it regularly. Then put your list somewhere you can see it. That way, you can keep reminding yourself that you are OK.
"You might have low confidence now because of what happened when you were growing up," says Professor Williams. "But we can grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age."
- book yourself on one of our FREE self-esteem courses
- speak to us today about how we can help
We're here to help too
It's hard to resolve emotional or psychological problems on your own so we provide access to a wide range of courses that can give you a better understanding of yourself. More importantly, you will be 'arming' yourself with the tools required to get back to being the 'real' you.
We can provide several services to help you manage low self-esteem such as self-help courses. Courses are free and are held in various locations across Bristol. There are also courses on Anger Management, Stress, Anxiety, Panic, Low Mood, Worry, Sleep Management, Assertiveness and Emotional Management to name just a few.
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