Low Self-Esteem

Our perception of our own worth.

Individuals with low self-esteem tend, in how they appraise themselves, to minimize their strengths while maximizing their weaknesses. They tend to be self-critical, compare themselves to others, and have rigid rules or beliefs by which they measure worth (e.g., “I should be slim and in perfect shape”, “I should have a high-status and make a lot of money”, “I should be a social butterfly”, etc). People with low self-esteem tend to place others’ needs above their own and need to please to feel worthy.

Strategies to increase self-esteem:

Cognitive re-structuring: correcting biased thoughts, challenging the “shoulds”, learning to better handle mistakes and criticism.

Learning to be one’s own “coach” and using more compassionate and realistic self-talk (e.g., “I am 5 feet tall and 140 lbs” is more accurate than “I am short and fat”). As a rule, if you would not say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself.

Assertiveness training: learning to identify and define your needs, and have those met. This includes setting healthy boundaries.

Setting personal goals based on personal values.


Selected Book References

Self-Esteem, Third edition.
Matthew McKay, Ph.D. & Patrick Fanning (2000).
New Harbinger Publications. ISBN 1-57224-198-5.