Recognising low self-esteem

LSE blog 1

With my background in Rational-Emotive Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, my approach to treatment tends to focus on a client’s rigid and unrealistic beliefs system. As such I try to uncover the irrational quality of their thinking style and how this may lead to them developing and maintaining unhealthy negative emotions and self-defeating behaviours. As such, my articles reflect a RECBT perspective which are consistent with CBT in general, i.e. the link we find between our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

I believe that the topic Recognising Low Self-esteem is going to be beneficial to our readership as it can be used as a simple guide to gaining some understanding of the problem area. I will also show you how you can therefore take positive steps forward to addressing this, if you think low self-esteem is contributing to distressing experiences and problematic patterns of behaviour in your life. Overall, LSE can be a broad area to explore and so, I will break up the work into a number of digestible articles.

I have chosen to talk about low self-esteem as this debilitating monster can often be a powerful and unhealthy maintenance factor in perfectionism, anxiety disorders, depression, unhealthy anger, shame or guilt. Although for many of my clients, LSE generally stems from childhood and significant experiences whilst growing up, Dr David Mills points out in his article Overcoming Self Esteem, that “self-esteem can be a compulsive drive that is anxiety-provoking, socially inhibiting, and self-sabotaging.” Its presence in known to help maintain unhealthy relationships we have with others or encourage unhelpful behaviours that ultimately can reinforce our sense of rejection by others.

To start with, I’d like to offer our readers the idea that rather than working on improving your LSE or developing high self-esteem, that we learn to adopt a qualitatively different approach and use Albert Ellis’ notion of unconditional self-acceptance (USA). Simply put, trying to develop high self-esteem may actually be an illogical, unrealistic and unhelpful task. The difficulty we find in evaluating ourselves. Is that we tend to measure ourselves under particular conditions and thereby rate ourselves depending on how we believe we have performed under those conditions or how we may have failed to perform. Invariably, when we don’t achieve a desired expectation, this can have a detrimental impact on the self-evaluation processes and of course lead to further problems like anxieties, depression or shame.

Social scientists have been struggling for years to develop accurate, valid and reliable measures to help us understand just what it is and how we quantify it, so it’s no wonder if you too are struggling to get a handle on it. If you are wondering about whether LSE is impacting you then try answering the questions below. If you answer yes to any of the questions, your self-esteem might be impacting on your emotions and even your goals. How about giving us a call to explore how we could help you improve in these areas?

  1. Do you apologise a lot, or say sorry even when things are not your fault or you haven’t actually done anything ‘wrong’?
    2. Do you think negatively about yourself a lot, blame yourself unnecessarily or do you take things too personally?
    3. Are you dependent on others to help you make your own decisions or need them to help you to feel good about yourself?
    4. Are you always trying to do your best or be perfect at everything you do?
    5. Does the fear of taking risks stop you from interacting with others?
    6. Do you avoid eye contact while communicating with others or walk with your head down when you are out?
  2. Do you easily accept other people’s responsibilities or take on other people’s problems
  3. Do you have difficulty in saying NO?

If you think you are suffering from low self-esteem or would like to learn more about how we might be able to help you recover from low self-esteem, contact City and West Psychology for a free 15 minute consultation here.

Author: Ryan Marcovich
Read more about the author here