Posted on: 30 June 2021
We all have times when we lack confidence and do not feel good about ourselves.
But low self-confidence can have a surprisingly big impact on our quality of life. It affects everything from our mental health to how we manage relationships with other people. Some people also develop unhealthy habits as a way of coping.
What causes low self-esteem?
Sometimes it’s difficult to judge how our feelings compare to others’, particularly as low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves.
Difficult or stressful life experiences can be a factor, such as being bullied, relationship issues, or physical and mental health problems. Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves.
Signs to look out for
In a nutshell, people with low self-esteem feel they are not good enough. Mental health charity Mind suggests that you might want to seek help if you regularly experience the following:
- feeling hopeless or worthless
- blaming yourself unfairly
- hating yourself
- worrying about being unable to do things.
Whatever has affected your self-esteem, it's important to remember that you have the right to feel good about who you are.
How can I improve my self-confidence?
Highlight your good qualities
The first thing to do is identify things you like about yourself. Have a think and write down five things that you’re good at or that others like about you. For instance, “I’m great at cooking”, “I always look out for my family” or “I’m a good listener.”
Put your list somewhere you can see it and add to it regularly. This will remind you that you are a good person and other people value you too.
Be kind to yourself
Try to challenge unkind thoughts about yourself. You might automatically put yourself down. If you find yourself doing this, it can help to ask: "Would I talk to, or think about, a friend in this way?" We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.
Look after yourself
Getting enough sleep is so important to how we feel, but it often goes out the window at times of stress. The same is true of healthy habits like eating well and taking regular exercise. Check out our article How to practise self-care for tips on prioritising your wellbeing.
Build a support network
Try to build relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you. If you find certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions.
Get more help if you need it
If low self-esteem is harming your mental health, you can get support to tackle this. Our article How to ask for help with mental wellbeing gives a list of people and resources that can help.