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Low Self-Esteem

Our self-esteem is how we view ourselves and our worth as individuals. For some people, this is very low and it can be difficult to lift.

Self-esteem determines whether we like ourselves as people, our self-worth, recognise our strengths and positive traits, feel able to do things, believe we deserve happiness and that we matter and much more.

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Why do some people have low self-esteem?

Needless to say there is no straightforward answer to this question. People have varying degrees of low self-worth for different reasons. Common factors include bullying or abuse, unemployment, work-related issues or problems studying, being on the receiving end of prejudice or discrimination, health problems (physical or mental), relationship troubles, worrying about your appearance or image and lots of other things.

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Is it a mental health issue?

Low self-esteem is not, in itself, a mental health issue. However, it often goes hand in hand with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.  It may also be a sign of an underlying mental health problem or can lead to one. For example, if you are feeling hopeless or worthless, you are overly hard on yourself or you don't feel up to the task of certain things, this can cause you to become depressed. This is especially true if it lasts for a long time and it is affecting your everyday life.

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How can it be improved?

There are a number of ways you can deal with low self-esteem and feel better about yourself. Here I will list some useful tips to help you achieve this.

You can start by recognising negative thoughts you have about yourself and challenging them. For instance, you might tell yourself that you are not "good enough" for a romantic partner or that you are bound to fail at taking on a new task.

Make a note of these thoughts and then for every negative come up with a positive. For instance, you might tell yourself that you are not good at anything. You can counteract this with something like "people say I am a good friend and kind-hearted". Try to come up with as many positives as you can think of, then leave your notes somewhere you will see them as a reminder of all your positive aspects.

Something else you can do to feel better about yourself is cutting out toxic people from your life and spending more time around people who make you feel good. If a friend is always criticising you, putting you down and talking about you behind your back, you are better off without that person in your life. They are not your true friend. Build relationships with people who respect you.

You can also imagine what you would say to someone else in the same boat. We are often our own harshest critics, but we tend to be more compassionate towards others facing similar problems. Think of what advice you would give to a friend in the situation and try to take it.

Setting yourself goals can help too. Join a group or take up running. It might seem daunting at first, but reaching these goals will help to boost your self-esteem.

These are just a few ways you can work on your self-esteem and some of them may work better for you than the rest. Everyone is different and not one size will fit all. Perhaps you have some of your own tips you can share in the comments section below?

If you wish to seek help do not be afraid to do so. Support is out there for anyone affected by self-esteem issues. You may benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, often abbreviated as CBT, which aims to challenge negative thoughts about ourselves as mentioned above.

You can ask your GP for a referral through the NHS or, if you can afford to do so, seek a private therapist. Take a look at this guide from Mind on how to find a therapist in your area.

Warmest regards,
Jamie x

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