Everyone, at some point or another, is uncertain about themselves, lacks self-confidence, doubts their abilities, or thinks negatively of themselves. However, if you think that you might have problems with low self-esteem, or are not sure if you have this problem but want to find out, then the following information might be helpful to you.
How can Dave Wells Psychotherapy & Counselling help with issues of Low Self-Worth?
Everyone has their own strengths, abilities and skills to enhance their self-worth and become who they want to be, and counselling can help people source these skills to improve their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Low self-worth has a history. Through counselling, Dave will sensitively explore with you where your feelings of low self-worth originated and the life experiences that have kept these feelings in your psyche, and he will help you develop techniques and strategies to build your self-worth and change your current negative thinking.
Following are some key points in relation to low self-worth which you might find it helpful to consider.
Low Self-esteem and Low Self-confidence
The terms self-esteem and self-confidence are often used interchangeably when referring to how a person feels about themselves. However, although the terms are very similar, they relate to two different concepts. It is important therefore to understand their roles when looking to improve your overall sense of self.
If you have issues with low self-esteem, you might start thinking that people have made a mistake about your worth. Irrespective of whether you have had a successful career or what contribution you have made to the community, you would begin to doubt your value. Then, you might begin to feel bad because you have deceived people into thinking you are more talented than you actually are.
If you have issues with self-confidence you might start thinking about the act of speaking in front of people and begin to question whether you could handle this. Irrespective of whether you have had much experience with public speaking (competence), you would begin to doubt your ability to be at the front with everyone looking specifically at you, waiting for what you have to say.
Self-esteem and self-confidence are different, but they tend to go hand in hand because rarely do you have one without the other. Self-esteem is all about how you feel about yourself, whereas self-confidence is the certainty you have about your ability to engage with the world. If you have low self-esteem it is unlikely you are going to be in the right mindset to confidently engage in a way that creates opportunities and possibilities for you. If you have low self-confidence it is likely that your mind will be littered with thoughts that demean your true worth and bring about a feeling of low mood and a lack of desire to pursue anything that carries any form of risk.
You might have heard and seen similar terms like ‘self-image’, ‘self-perception’ and ‘self-concept’. All these terms refer to the way we view and think about ourselves. As human beings, we have the ability to not only be aware of ourselves but also to place a value or a measure of worth upon ourselves or aspects of ourselves. So, self- esteem usually refers to how we view and think about ourselves and the value that we place on ourselves as a person. Having this capacity to judge and place value on something is where we might run into problems with self-esteem.
Symptoms of low self-esteem and low self-confidence
Low self-esteem can have an effect on various aspects of a person. Following are some typical examples.
Negativity as the norm
A person with low self-esteem probably says a lot of negative things about themselves. They might criticise themselves, their actions and abilities, or joke about themselves in a very negative way. They might put themselves down, doubt themselves, or blame themselves when things go wrong. They might not recognise their positive qualities, and find it hard to believe that any good results they get are due to their own abilities or positive qualities. When compliments are given to them, they might brush them aside, or say that “it was all luck” or “it wasn’t that big a deal.” Instead, they tend to focus on what they didn’t do or the mistakes they made.
Things won’t turn out well
People with low self-esteem might expect that things would not turn out well for them. They might often feel sad, depressed, anxious, guilty, ashamed, frustrated, and angry. They might have difficulty speaking up for themselves and their needs, avoid challenges and opportunities, or be overly aggressive in their interactions with others.
Not good enough
Low self-esteem can also affect a person’s performance at work or at school. They might consistently achieve less than they are able to because they believe they are less capable than others. They might avoid challenges out of fear of not doing well. They might work extremely hard and push themselves to do more because they believe they need to make up for, or cover up, their lack of skill.
Over sensitive, pleasing others, bullied
In their personal relationships, people with low self-esteem might become upset or distressed by any criticism or disapproval, bend over backwards to please others, be extremely shy or self-consciousness, or even avoid or withdraw from intimacy or social contact. They might also be less likely to stand up for themselves or protect themselves from being bullied, criticised or abused by their partners or family members.
Don’t deserve pleasure or fun
People with low self-esteem might not engage in many leisure or recreational activities, as they might believe that they do not deserve any pleasure or fun. They might also avoid activities where they could be judged or evaluated in some way, such as competitive sports, dancing, art/craft classes, or participating in any type of competition or exhibition.
Lack of / excessive self-care
Personal self-care might also be affected. People who do not value themselves might drink excessive amounts of alcohol or abuse drugs. They might not bother to dress neatly, wear clean clothes, style their hair, or buy new clothes. On the other hand, they might try to hide any inadequacies by making sure that every detail of their appearance is attended to and not allow themselves to be seen by others unless they look absolutely perfect.
Low self-esteem and low self-confidence can be part of a current problem. If you’re experiencing clinical depression, low self-esteem can be a by-product of your depressed mood. Having a negative view of oneself is a symptom of depression. So is feeling very guilty and worthless almost all the time.
Here are some other symptoms of depression:
- Consistently feeling sad, down, depressed, or empty
- Reduced pleasure in activities previously enjoyed or lack of interest in most things
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Being a people pleaser (Pleasing everyone and neglecting, or not considering, what is in your best interest)
- Sleep difficulties (inability to sleep, sleeping more than usual, waking up in the middle of the night and unable to return to sleep)
- Feeling tired and without energy
- Fidgeting and restlessness, or having slowed down compared to your usual speed of doing things (this
is observed by others)
- Having difficulties concentrating or making decisions
- Having thoughts that you might be better off dead, or thinking about hurting yourself.
Low self-esteem can be caused by lifestyle factors such as abuse as a child, bullying, not fitting in, etc. As well as being a problem in and of itself, low self-esteem can put a person at risk of experiencing other problems, such as depression, having persistent suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and social phobia.
If you are experiencing any of the above issues or symptoms, contact Dave Wells, who has broad experience in these areas and offers a safe space for clients to consider what is realistic and achievable and to explore disappointments and set-backs.