Having a low self-esteem can be detrimental to our relationships and to our working life. It can hinder us from taking up opportunities that come our way or from following our passions and dreams and living the life we want.
When we have low self-esteem we tend towards a negative view of ourselves. We do not value ourselves and may deny, distort or ignore anything that we do or have done that demonstrates value about ourselves including any skills or achievements because they do not support the negative beliefs that we are holding.
When we are caught up in this personal negative view, we understandably feel down and lack the motivation to engage in activities with friends, family or our wider community e.g. we may think that ‘they don’t really like me’ ‘I won’t know what to say’, ‘I won’t fit in’, and so not go to a party we have been invited to. However by doing this, we withhold from ourselves the opportunity to engage with friends, to make friends, to feel part of the group and to gain evidence that we are valued. It may be that we then feel frustrated with ourselves for not going which makes us feel more down, less part of the group and more isolated …. and so the cycle of reinforcing our low self-esteem is continued.
In therapy you can explore how and why you have gained these negative perceptions about yourself. It may have come about due to one or more of the following; issues; critical parenting, abuse, traumatic experiences, depression, being bullied, unrealistic expectations placed on us which knock our confidence etc.
Therapy is therefore an opportunity to gain insight into any thoughts and behaviours you may have that are unhelpful to maintaining a healthy self-esteem. If you have a low self-esteem, you may find it hard to establish healthy boundaries in relationships and to develop and set personal goals in your life. You may have an external locus of evaluation i.e. you may look more towards what others think as opposed to trusting in your own opinion. As you gain insight into your thinking patterns and behaviours you may learn things that you think or do that undermine your self-esteem. You are then in a position to develop strategies to move towards the life you want.
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