Overcoming Low Self Esteem | A CBT Skill You Need To Know

Overcoming Low Self Esteem - Person using CBT
What Is Low Self Esteem?

For most people, having acceptance of themselves is a such key part of life that they don’t even stop to consider it. Maybe it’s looking in the mirror and accepting  the reflection, or feeling proud after achieving a personal goal, but for other people, those little moments that can bolster self-esteem in others, can actually be highly distressing moments that can potentially shatter their self worth.  Appreciating your worth is a cyclical process; the more you recognise your value, the easier it is to accept your faults and shortcomings.

But what happens when your thinking becomes unhelpful and doesn’t naturally focus on anything but your negative attributes in these types of situations?

Many people experience low self-esteem sometime in their lives, but, if left untreated, it can affect your work, relationships, and even your overall health by increasing your vulnerability to depression or anxiety problems. When you have low self-esteem, you may believe you are not “good enough,” or that you do not deserve to feel secure and happy. However, self-esteem is all about your perception: The way you view yourself and the way you think others view you. Therefore, one key area is to change your perceptions.

A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skill For Low Self Esteem.

It’s hard to make repairs if you don’t know where the problem areas are. Because our thoughts serve as a near-perpetual monologue playing quietly in our heads, it can be difficult to catch negative thoughts in the stream of consciousness. “You shouldn’t even try” or, “You’re not smart enough” and other self-deprecating self-talk needs to be identified so it can be challenged.

A daily thought diary can be a useful tool to identify any thoughts that might be interfering with your life and self esteem.  For example, why not write down a list of areas in life that are important to you and how they are likely to come into you life during the week ahead.  As you go through the week take a look at the types of thoughts that you get about yourself when you are faces with these activities.  For example you might identify that “progressing in my career” is an important value to you.  In the week ahead there might be a meeting with your manager in which discussing your progression could be helpful.  As the meeting approaches you decide not to raise the issue with your manager as you have the thought “there are other people that would be better at the job than me.”  This is the automatic thought that would be useful to write down here.

Poor self-esteem is broad experience involving complex emotions, but it is possible to overcome low self esteem by logic. By writing down the circumstances that seem to unfavourably impact your sense of self. Whether it’s specific phrases you tell yourself or particular situations that have made you feel badly, being aware of the causes of your low self-esteem will allow you to analyse them from the outside in. Ask yourself if your feelings accurately reflect the facts, or if changing perspective could change your viewpoint.

Fighting against the negativity is one thing, conquering it is another. If it is possible to view a destructive thought as a constructive one, it’s time to actively replace the former with the latter. For example: Forgive yourself for a silly defeat, then set a more reasonable goal for yourself by learning whether the original goal or expectation you had was generally realistic for you (or anyone) to achieve. Accepting areas you struggle with  is a big part of having good self-esteem, and it shouldn’t be forgotten, but instead understood clearly and compassionately nurtured.

Also be sure to give yourself proper credit where credit is due. If you work hard to accomplish something, don’t chalk it up to luck, but instead consider what it was about your actions that brought about the particular result. You deserve to feel proud of yourself, to feel satisfied with the fruits of your labour.

Finally, stop comparing yourself to others. No one human experience is the “right” way of doing things. It can be difficult, though, especially with our societal inclination towards the instant social gratification of sites like Facebook. Just remember that it’s all about perception. The people around you do not set the standard for your contentment – only you can do that. The goal is to learn to love and accept who you are in a clear and useful way that motivates you and allows you to gain the most from your life.

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What Next?

Overcoming low self-esteem can take time and a lot of work, but if you need help along the way, we’re here for you.

Contact us for more information about how private London Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or another of our UK CBT Locations could help you.