Individuals with low self-esteem often have core beliefs that they are unworthy, a failure, weak, or unloveable (and many more!). They often look for external sources to fill the void within themselves – they might seek out others for reassurance that they are loved, attractive or worthy instead of finding the validation within themselves. They may purchase new items as a way to fend off unhappiness and be distracted from negative thoughts about themselves. Unfortunately this is only a temporary “fix” – the negative thoughts come racing back within a short amount of time.
Those who suffer from low self-esteem often report extreme loneliness and feelings of isolation. They can become uncomfortable being alone because this is when they become self-critical; they do not enjoy their own company. They have a tendency to focus on their perceived “negative” traits and disqualify their positive traits, skills and talents. When asked what they like about themselves or what their talents are, they struggle to answer the question but they can easily list what they believe is “wrong” or flawed with their character. Because of their poor self-view, they are more vulnerable to being in toxic relationships where others take advantage of them.
Psychotherapy including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proven to be effective in addressing low self-esteem. The goal of therapy is for the person to become less self-critical and more self-compassionate through addressing negative automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions. This, in turn, leads to healthier behaviour. Assertiveness training as well as boundary setting are important components in therapy – getting rid of the people pleasing behaviour and learning to make decisions where one’s own best interests come first! Individuals learn to seek approval and appreciation from themselves rather than looking to external sources for validation.
It’s really about developing a new relationship with yourself… a new and improved relationship with trust and love!
Have a great Tuesday!