Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.
When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life’s ups and downs.
When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.
What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves.
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.
How does low self-esteem affect us?
If you have low self-esteem or 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 might make you feel safe.
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 and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.
You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as smoking and drinking too much, as a way of coping.
You can find more information on the NHS Website
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