Most people recognize whether they have a high or low self-esteem. But what is self-esteem exactly and how does it impact our everyday life?
Self-esteem is the degree to which we feel worthy, valuable and confident, and these feelings or beliefs greatly affect our well-being and social interactions. Low self-esteem is associated with feelings of self-criticism, self-doubt, shame, social isolation and suppressed anger. Low self-esteem is also a symptom of several mental health conditions including depression.
Developing Self-Esteem – Self-esteem is learned in childhood, and there are many factors that can impact healthy development. Criticism or abuse from parents and caretakers, receiving little or no positive reinforcement for accomplishments, and having a learning disability that is stigmatized may foster a low self-esteem. Unless address in childhood, these young people will develop into adults with low self-esteem.
Even adults with healthy self-esteems can develop issues when they are faced with sudden life challenges they perceive as failures, such as legal or financial troubles, divorce, losing a job, and struggling with addiction.
How Psychotherapy Can Help – At any point in our lives, when events might cause us to question our worth or value, therapy can help us gain perspective. People suffering from low self-esteem can work with a therapist on becoming more self-aware, confident, and assertive.
One of the biggest boosts to self-esteem comes from a feeling of accomplishment, and a professional therapist can help people identify specific activities that can give them a confidence boost. In addition, many therapists can work with clients to help them develop self-compassion, so they may treat themselves with the same kindness and encouragement they do others.
It is common for therapists to use goal-directed therapy with people struggling with low self-esteem. Solution-focused and cognitive behavioral therapies tend to work best, and some therapists will also try animal assisted therapy, which can be incredibly effective in younger patients or those suffering as a result of a physical impairment.
The longer a person has lived with low self-esteem and been the victim of negative self-talk and criticism, the more they can be helped by therapy. Breaking self-destructive patterns will require proven tools and protocols that a professional therapist can offer.
When your self-esteem suffers, your quality of life does as well. Seeking treatment from a professional therapist is a great way to gain perspective and confidence, and acquire new habits based in self-love and self-compassion.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW