Self-Esteem Therapy Online
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is described as a person’s sense of self-worth and their perception and opinion about themselves. This construct comprises feelings of self-respect, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. Having healthy self-esteem means feeling good about oneself and believing in one’s abilities and values as a person. Conversely, low self-esteem is defined by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
Signs of low self-esteem involve negative self-talk, a recurrent fear of failure, anxiety, and a tendency to withdraw from social situations. While anyone can have low self-esteem, adolescents are particularly vulnerable, as they are shaping their identities. At the same time, adults dealing with setbacks or traumatic experiences can also struggle with
Childhood experiences, especially those marked by criticism, neglect, or abuse, can deeply influence self-perception. Societal pressures, affected by media portrayals of unattainable beauty and success, contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Internalising social judgments and comparing oneself to others further impacts self-worth. Chronic stress and the pursuit of perfectionism exacerbate this cycle, perpetuating low self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a double-edged sword. It can be seen as a label, where you can hold either a positive or negative opinion about yourself. The risk lies in the fact that once you define yourself as worthy, you might open the door to feeling unworthy at another time. That’s why, at Psychology Therapy, we encourage our clients to cultivate self-compassion rather than focusing solely on self-esteem. Our goal is for clients to set aside harsh self-evaluations and learn to treat themselves with the same kindness and care they would offer to a friend.
When to seek help for low self-esteem?
If your self-esteem and sense of self-worth are impacting your daily life and mental well-being, we recommend reaching out to a therapist. If you are not sure, here are some indicators that suggest it might be time to seek professional assistance:
- Persistent negative thoughts: If you find yourself trapped in a cycle of negative self-talk, self-criticism, and self-doubt that affects your self-image and confidence.
- Avoidance behaviour: If you consistently avoid situations, activities, or social interactions due to fear of judgement or failure, hindering your personal and professional growth.
- Emotional distress: If you’re experiencing heightened feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression that are connected to your self-perception and self-worth.
- Lack of self-compassion: If you struggle to show kindness and understanding to yourself, often holding yourself to impossibly high standards and feeling inadequate when you don’t meet them.
- Impact on performance: If low self-esteem is affecting your performance at work, school, or other areas of life, hindering your ability to achieve your goals.
- Isolation: If you’re withdrawing from social activities, isolating yourself, and feeling disconnected from others due to feelings of unworthiness.
- Consistent comparison: If you frequently compare yourself unfavourably to others and this comparison becomes a significant source of distress.
- Lack of enjoyment: If you’re finding it challenging to enjoy activities that once pleased you, and this is linked to feelings of low self-worth.
- Thoughts of self-harm: If you experience thoughts of self-harm or have suicidal ideation as a result of your low self-esteem, it’s crucial to seek help immediately.
If you notice any of these signs or if your low self-esteem is causing significant distress in your life, reach out, we can help.
Therapy for low self-esteem
Different therapeutic modalities can be employed to help individuals understand and overcome their struggles with self-worth. Here are some common therapeutic approaches used for treating low self-esteem:
- Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to low self-esteem. Through this approach, individuals learn to challenge and reframe distorted perceptions of themselves, fostering more realistic and positive self-appraisals.
- Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT): This approach emphasises developing self-compassion as a means to counteract self-criticism. It helps individuals treat themselves with the same kindness and understanding they would offer to a friend, promoting a more nurturing and forgiving attitude toward oneself.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT helps individuals accept their thoughts and feelings rather than struggling against them. This approach encourages setting values-based goals and taking committed actions despite self-doubt, leading to increased self-esteem through a sense of having a rich, meaningful life.
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Mindfulness techniques encourage individuals to stay present and nonjudgmentally observe their thoughts and feelings. The consequence is a reduction in the impact of negative self-talk and an enhancement of awareness of the present moment.
Our approach to self-esteem therapy
At Psychology Therapy we don’t believe in labelling, and sometimes, self-esteem can act as a label. You label yourself as worthy or not. The problem is that the moment you evaluate yourself as worthy, you open the door to being unworthy another time. As a result, our approach to low self-esteem therapy is based on the development of self-compassion, as an alternative to low self-esteem, rather than working towards good self-esteem.
Using compassion-focused therapy (CFT) techniques and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), we teach clients to accept their emotions, deal with unhelpful thoughts more skillfully, and treat themselves with kindness and compassion. In the face of self-criticism and low self-esteem, people respond with kindness, bringing a sense of warmth and care towards themselves. Note that we don’t aim to get rid of the critical thoughts, just to recognise them and answer with compassion. This approach is very different from trying to convince oneself of one’s worth.
Similarly to many other psychological issues, low self-esteem can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes may include:
- Negative childhood experiences: Early experiences of neglect, criticism, emotional or physical abuse, or inconsistent parental support can deeply impact self-esteem. Harsh or unrealistic expectations from caregivers can lead to a distorted self-image.
- Perceived social comparisons: Constantly comparing oneself unfavourably to others, often fuelled by societal ideals of success, beauty, and achievement, can erode self-worth and foster feelings of inadequacy.
- Media and societal standards: Exposure to idealised and often unattainable portrayals of beauty, success, and happiness in the media can contribute to unrealistic self-expectations, causing individuals to feel they don’t measure up.
- Negative self-talk: An internal dialogue marked by self-criticism, self-doubt, and self-blame can reinforce a negative self-image, perpetuating low self-esteem.
- Traumatic experiences: Trauma, whether physical, emotional, or psychological, can leave lasting scars that undermine self-esteem. This includes experiences like bullying, discrimination, or significant life changes.
- Perfectionism: Striving for perfection and fearing mistakes can lead to a constant feeling of never being “good enough,” damaging self-esteem.
- Lack of validation: Growing up in an environment where one’s achievements and emotions are consistently dismissed or ignored can result in low self-worth.
- Personality traits: Certain personality traits, such as being overly self-critical, anxious, or highly sensitive to criticism, can contribute to the development of low self-esteem.
- Relationships: Negative experiences in relationships, such as rejection, betrayal, or manipulation, can impact how individuals view themselves and their ability to form healthy connections.
- Lack of achievement: Repeated failures or setbacks, particularly in areas of personal significance, can lead to feelings of incompetence and low self-esteem.
- Mental health conditions: Conditions like depression and anxiety can exacerbate negative thought patterns and undermine self-esteem.
The symptoms of low self-esteem can manifest in various ways, impacting emotions, thoughts, behaviours, and relationships. These symptoms can vary in intensity and frequency, but they collectively contribute to a diminished sense of self-worth. Common symptoms include:
- Negative self-talk: Constantly engaging in self-critical and self-deprecating thoughts, often belittling personal abilities and achievements.
- Self-doubt: Chronic uncertainty about one’s capabilities and a persistent fear of making mistakes or failing, even in tasks they are proficient at.
- Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for oneself and feeling inadequate if those standards are not met, often leading to a cycle of disappointment.
- Avoidance: Avoiding situations, challenges, or opportunities due to a fear of failure, judgement, or rejection.
- Social withdrawal: Becoming increasingly isolated and avoiding social interactions due to a belief that others view them negatively.
- Negative body image: Obsessively focusing on perceived flaws in physical appearance and feeling uncomfortable or dissatisfied with one’s body.
- Comparisons: Constantly measuring oneself against others and feeling inferior, regardless of individual achievements or qualities.
- Self-Isolation: Feeling unworthy of love and connection, leading to an avoidance of relationships and difficulty forming meaningful connections.
- Anxiety and depression: Experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms due to the ongoing cycle of self-criticism and negative self-perception.
- Lack of assertiveness: Difficulty in asserting one’s opinions, needs, and boundaries, often due to a fear of rejection or disapproval.
- Unhelpful emotional states: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, frustration, and anger related to low self-esteem.
- Imposter syndrome: Believing that one’s accomplishments are a result of luck rather than genuine skill, often leading to fear of being exposed as a fraud.
- Self-sabotage: Unconsciously undermining one’s efforts and success due to a belief that they don’t deserve positive outcomes.
- Dependency on external validation: Seeking constant approval and validation from others to feel a sense of self-worth.
Do you offer self-esteem therapy near me?
We offer online low self-esteem therapy because this way we can reach you out whenever you are in the world. We are trained in the United Kingdom and provide cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).