Low self-esteem affects us all. It does not matter whether you are an athlete, a teenager, a high achiever or unemployed, a woman in her twenties or a man in his sixties. Low self-esteem can be at the heart of many issues including body dysmorphia, eating disorders, depression, dysfunctional relationships or addictions.
In a 2017 research in the UK by Dove, it was found that 61% of 10-17 year old girls in the UK have low self-esteem. This is indeed a very sad statistic. Unfortunately among teenagers low self esteem is widely experienced, possibly as a result of the impact of social of social media, sub standard parenting skills and abusive upbringings. Having worked with people from all walks of life I have seen first hand how a sense of self-worth can literally transform lives.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. It is our individual subjective evaluation of our own worth. The higher our opinion of ourselves the higher our self-esteem. Other words for self esteem are self-worth, self-regard, self-respect.
When we have a healthy dose of self-esteem we tend to have positive feelings about ourselves. We believe we have the skills needed to deal with life. We appreciate what we can do and we have an honest respect for our own abilities, potentials and value. This in turn helps us deal better with life's ups and downs.
On the other hand if our self-esteem is on the low end we will tend to see ourselves and life in a more negative and critical light. As a result, we will feel less able to take on challenges and cope with setbacks.
Having high self-esteem is not the same as being 'full of yourself'. Real self-esteem is not arrogance or vanity. In fact such an attitude is most likely an attempt to overcompensate for a hidden feeling of low self esteem.
What does high self esteem consist of?
Why is Self- Esteem important?
Having high self esteem does not mean that you need to love yourself no matter what you do. But there is a difference between beating yourself up for a mistake and judging yourself to be a terrible human being who can never be redeemed and pinpointing what the bad behaviour was in the specific situation and seek to learn from the experience.
In other words you can be self critical and have high self esteem but only when you use criticism constructively as a way to take responsibility for your actions rather than as a weapon to damn your whole personality as worthless.
There is a difference between telling yourself: " I am totally worthless because I was rude to my colleagues and I will always be hopeless as a result" and "I behaved badly at the office yesterday with this specific person in this specific time and I want to learn how to be better at communicating"
Shame, guilt and self reproach do have a place if you behave badly. However, if you have low self esteem you will feel these feelings even if you don't.
Self-esteem is important because it heavily influences people's choices and decisions. The more you trust in your capacity to deal with life and the healthier your opinion of yourself the more likely you will be to be motivated to explore your full potential.
We all have times when we lack confidence and do not feel good about ourselves. But when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a very harmful effect on our mental health, our relationships and our day-to-day lives. It is therefore critical to our ability to live a happy and healthy life.
What causes low self-esteem?
It is a fact that in terms of self esteem, we are all born equal. Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves.
And often 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. Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem. Bullying, neglect and abuse can condition a child to think it is their fault they were treated unfairly.
Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves in an attempt to avoid rejection from others.
Can high achievers have low self-esteem?
We may assume that high achievers must have high self esteem. However, this can be incorrect. People who have a wide variety of skills and talents can still suffer from low self-esteem. They may be perfectionists, demanding the impossible from themselves and then falling short. These people are not telling themselves that they have done a pretty good job. They don't give themselves much credit and talk to themselves in ways they would never talk to anyone else.
This is because it is often easier to build self-confidence rather than self-esteem, It is easier to hide behind prizes and achievements than facing up to the fear of being imperfect (and therefore, in their mind, a failure). But as anyone who has been to university knows, a long list of abilities and achievements is neither sufficient nor necessary for healthy self-esteem.
Keeping on adding certificates to the list in the hope that they may one day be enough won't fill the emptiness inside the same way that higher status, income, possessions, relationships, or sexual conquests sex won't.
At the heart of this behaviour is an attempt to prove to themselves that they are good enough, while at the same time secretly dreading or 'knowing' they are not.
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 but of course 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 mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.
Another way in which you may try to cope with your feelings of low self-worth is to develop dysfunctional habits such as as smoking and drinking too much, self-harming or addictive behaviours.
Low self-esteem is characterised by lack of confidence and feeling bad about yourself. If you have low self-esteem you may often feel unlovable, awkward, or incompetent. Or you may have a fragile sense of self and feel easily be wounded by others.
If you have low self-esteem you will tend to treat yourself badly. You will believe for example that you are morally worse than most other people. You may believe you are uglier or stupider than others. You may feel unlovable.
Alternatively, you may not want to spend money on yourself or take care of your appearance because you don't feel you 'deserve' it. You may think your opinions are not as valid as others. All of this may hold you back from doing what you really want to in life. If you are experiencing the following symptoms you may have low self esteem:
Characteristics of low self-esteem
- Depression / sadness / low mood
- Avoiding of social situations
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Comparing yourself negatively to others
- Difficulty accepting compliments
- Neglecting of own needs, particularly emotional ones
- Sensitivity to criticism
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive preoccupation with personal problems
- Physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and headaches
What is the difference between confidence and
"Confidence" comes from the Latin 'fidere' which means "to trust." To be self- confident is to trust in oneself, and, in particular, in one’s ability or aptitude to engage successfully or at least adequately with the world. A self-confident person is ready to rise to new challenges, seize opportunities, deal with difficult situations, and take responsibility if and when things go awry.
Although any successful experience contributes to our overall confidence, it is, of course, possible to be highly confident in one area, such as cooking or dancing, but very insecure in another, such as mathematics or public speaking.
Self-confidence and self-esteem do not always go hand in hand. In particular, it is possible to be highly self-confident and yet to have profoundly low self-esteem, as is the case, for example, with many performers and celebrities, who can perform before an audience of thousands but then damage and even kill themselves with drugs.
"Esteem" is derived from the Latin 'aestimare', meaning "to appraise, value, rate, weigh, estimate," and self-esteem is our cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth. More than that, it is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act, and reflects and determines our relation to ourselves, to others, and to the world.
People with a healthy self-esteem do not need to prop themselves up with externals such as income, status, or notoriety, or lean on crutches such as alcohol, drugs, or sexual conquests.
They are able to invest themselves completely in projects and people because they do not fear failure or rejection. Of course they suffer hurt and disappointment, but their setbacks neither damage nor diminish them.
Low self-esteem is a self-fulling prophecy
The worse you feel about who you are and what you do, the less motivation you'll have to do what it takes to build your self-esteem. From there it's easy to spiral down into a cycle of negative and circular thinking, keeping you mired in damaging and erroneous beliefs.
Quick Tip: No two people are affected the same way by low self- esteem and there is no "one-size-fits-all" for treatment, but identifying the negative beliefs you have about yourself and challenging them, can gradually begin to improve things.
5 Tips to Raise Your Self Esteem
Stop the negative talk. Stop generalising from a specific incident to everything. If you catch yourself 'globalising' find examples that contradict your negative blank statement. For example: if you tell yourself you are stupid because you made a mistake force yourself to find examples that prove you this is not true.
Briefly look at the cause. Low self esteem usually results from conditioning. If you were systematically insulted, bullied or criticised you are more likely to have internalised their voices. Think about who these people were. When you criticise yourself ask yourself" Hold on, who's voice is that really? Then choose to be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone you really love, such as a best friend, an animal or a child.
Be fair to yourself and others. Stop magnifying failures and faults and discounting your successes or strengths. If others pay you a compliment respect them enough to consider what they say is a probability. Only remembering criticisms and discounting positive feedback is biased, and one sided.
Ditch the perfectionism. If it's not perfect it's a total failure, right? Wrong! This is a trap. Stop the black and white thinking. Instead think: if 100% is perfect and 0% is a total failure how do I rate (the meal I just cooked, the report I just wrote, the way I parent etc) ? Then ask: what enabled the percentage I chose? How can I build on that to get onto a higher percentage?
Take care of yourself, including your appearance. If you feel bad and therefore don't dress well, keep fit or get a nice haircut you will feel even lower. Take time out to look after your body. When you change the outward aspects of yourself this can cause a ripple effect and can lead to changes on the inside. Take time to close your eyes and visualise yourself fit, healthy, nicely dressed and doing something you can be proud of.
How does a hypnosis session raise self esteem?
Hypnotherapy can help find the memories associated with the events that caused low self esteem and low confidence in the first place by tapping into the unconscious. A new empowered perspective needs to be found while any old feelings must be expressed and let go. Only by accessing the unconscious mind can we begin to shift these perspectives so emotional balance can be restored.
Through hypnotherapy you can get a different emotional perspective and the meaning of those events can be changed to give you a more balanced picture of reality. When you perceive a situation differently you feel differently about it.
Hypnotherapy can also help you learn to self soothe so that you can offer your 'inner child' the comfort, support, love and encouragement that you most likely missed growing up.
Finally during a confidence session I can help you learn the 'soft skills' that will raise your sense of competency . Handling your emotions effectively is a skill. Here are some of the skills that you would need to learn in order to raise your self esteem:
What 'soft skills' build self-esteem?
Confidence hypnosis can help you learn these skills while you put them into practice in every day life.
- Being able to 'read' the emotions of others.
- Knowing when others are angry, upset, unsettled etc.
- Being sensitive to others whilst realising that you, too, have a position within any given situation.
- Having empathy. Being able to 'put yourself in the position of the other person'.
- Being able to assert your point of view. When appropriate 'speaking up for yourself' assertively.
- Being able to make yourself understood and being able to compromise to the benefit of all involved.
- Having wide interests and activities (as far as possible). So your are not just 'Mother' 'Wife' 'Co-worker''Father' - trapped in the roles you play.
- Having good rapport skills and being able to forge and maintain friendships.
- Observing your own emotional ebbs and flows.
- Knowing how to manage your own anger and 'low times' so you are not swamped by your own emotions.
- Understanding your own needs for company, rest, creative stimulation, healthy lifestyle, achievable goals, attention and intimacy and making allowances for these needs in your everyday life.
- Being able to manage stress in your lives-which relate to some of the above skills.
- Understanding the paramount importance of the company you keep. Do you just mix with people who bring you down or do you associate with others who are positive and fun?
Hypnosis for confidence and self esteem
Hypnosis is entirely collaborative and begins with a conversation to establish your goals. Only when we have decided on the correct course, will hypnotherapy begin.
After we identify those areas and aspects affected most we will improve coping abilities, address past potential causes, and find renewed hope and positivity.
My Hypnosis for “Reclaiming Your Self-Esteem” program will enable you to re-focus and tap into your natural confidence - a confidence that you were actually born with!
Whether our sessions are face-to-face in person or online, hypnosis can help you.
And let the changes begin!
A diamond doesn't know its own value, but it is still a diamond nonetheless.