Low Self-esteem

by  |  February 19th, 2016 |  0 Comments |  Print


Daniel was the last of four children. Growing up he loved comic books and film, and he went on to study filmmaking at college. Academically he wasn’t as smart as his sisters, something which he felt his parents criticised him for. Daniel had a group of friends, but was also bullied at school. He came to believe that he was stupid and ‘weird’. He would get flustered when surrounded by people he thought of as more competent, and never felt comfortable around women, he never felt like he fitted in. Daniel became very self-critical. He felt he had to be on the lookout for his flaws to try and correct them before other people noticed.


Caitlyn was from a poor family. She was picked on at school because of this and made to feel different. She had done nothing wrong, but other children made her feel as though she had because of the way she dressed and where she lived. Her mother was busy working to support Caitlyn and her siblings and so Caitlyn kept mostly to herself. In her teens Caitlyn didn’t think much of herself. She felt grateful for any attention boys paid to her, even if it was the wrong kind of attention. She had sexual relationships with boys she liked, but never really felt valued.

Low self-esteem means not thinking much of yourself, or not holding yourself in high regard. Having low self-esteem can have dramatic effects upon your life. It can knock your self confidence, and it makes it hard to feel worthwhile. At the centre of low self-esteem are the beliefs and opinions we hold about ourselves. We all hold opinions about ourselves, and many of these are formed early in our lives. These opinions are often held so strongly that they feel like facts.

Significant or early events have big impact

Significant events in our lives commonly lead to negative beliefs about ourselves. In CBT terms, these ‘early experiences’ lead to the development of ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs are ‘contributing factors’ in the development of low self-esteem – holding lots of negative beliefs makes us vulnerable to experiencing low self-esteem later on. Significant events that can have long-lasting effects can include:

  • Not fitting in with a peer group at school
  • Not being able to live up to your parent’s expectations
  • Abuse or punishment – particularly if our abuser repeatedly told you “this is your fault”, or “I’m doing this because you’re a **** person”
  • Not getting enough of something – for example not getting enough praise
  • Being neglected in childhood – not having our physical or emotional needs met
  • Being treated differently from brothers and sisters
  • Being the ‘odd one out’
  • Bereavement or other losses
  • Redundancy
  • Being isolated or lonely
  • Trauma – such as being attacked or hurt

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Catgeories: Abuse, Counselling, DepressionView other posts by:

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