What is Self Esteem?


“Self esteem is the extent to which we value our own worth and like ourselves.”


Rosie Waters, Rosie Waters counselling

Low self-esteem underlies so many issues writes Rachel from Rachel Cooper Counseling. We may push loved ones away to test their depth of feeling, or limit our work opportunities for fear of others confirming our view that we aren’t good enough.  We may put others first to our own detriment believing that they are more worthy somehow. We may feel it necessary to be liked by others in order to feel likeable, or strive to be perfect in order to avoid feeling a failure.

To go to more detail Nicola Landless from NJL counselling says

‘Low self-esteem is often the result of negative experiences we’ve had and/or messages we’ve received at a young age from others, and we internalise negative words like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m useless’, ‘I’m stupid’, or ‘I can’t do it’.’  

Negative early life experiences can lead to negative core beliefs, resulting in unhelpful behaviour and assumptions about oneself.  We may be so used to hearing our negative self-talk that we don’t even notice it anymore, or realise the damaging impact it has, let alone begin to know how change it.  All we may notice is a dislike of our self.

But how do we know if we have low self esteem?

According to hypnotherapist AnneMarie Smellie the Clue is in the words:

Be proud of yourself.

But how many of us are really proud of who we are?

How often do we nag ourselves, put ourselves down and believe that others are so much better. Too often we have a need to be perfect, or find ourselves caring too much about what others think.

Or can it mean we don’t like ourselves much? We may be unkind to ourselves, have trouble making decisions or trusting our own judgment. We may shy away from trying new experiences and beat ourselves up if we make a mistake. 

“But what on earth is perfect? Perfect to me is like being a robot – too good to be true! I love people’s imperfections, as they give them character. It’s wonderful to think in a different way, behave in a different way – it gives colour to life. But it’s ourselves that need to relish who we are, our differences…”

AnneMarie Smellie hypnotherapist


So how can we improve our self esteem?

Showing self compassion can help us improve our self esteem but how do we do this?

Nicci Alder from Nicci Alder Counselling suggests affirmations.

Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself aloud regularly. Preferably in front of a mirror. Your brain will, over time, process the words until they become beliefs: SO ‘fake it ‘til you make it’!

Try this one and then you can write your own …

“I’m good enough just as I am”

“It’s okay to have needs and wants, and to please myself”

Or even as Nicola Landless suggests repeating “I am ok and I am good enough” on a daily basis can help.

Be kind to yourself and accept that you are human and you will make mistakes.

Rosie Waters suggests trying to avoid comparing yourself to others and to Learn how to look after yourself.

For example:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • A healthy diet
  • Plenty exercise
  • Fresh air

She also says ‘Learn to accept compliments when they are given. Try to say “thank you very much” instead of negating it and pushing it away by saying something negative.’

Try to notice the good things around you, however small or insignificant they seem. For instance, a flower coming into bloom, the blossom on the trees, the shop worker going out of their way to help you, your pet being pleased to see you at the end of the day, the friend who calls you just to say hi, your partner making you a cup of tea just because…….

Finally Vanessa Dent suggests to challenge negative core beliefs by looking for the evidence for them. Another suggestion is to notice and journal your positive qualities on daily basis. She also has some advice for challenges we may come across in daily life;

  • Approach challenges with an open mind
  • Try not to avoid or escape as these safety behaviours reinforce negative beliefs
  • Accept and recognise weaknesses but also acknowledge and celebrate strengths and success.


Often we may hear these  negative core beliefs in the form of a critical voice.  A critical voice may have come from someone in our past, or our own view of our self may have become so unbalanced that we only notice what we don’t like about our self.  Therapy can help free us of such issues where we can change our relationship with our self to one more respectful, trusting and accepting, enabling greater confidence, contentment and self-esteem.

We hope this blog has helped you have a more fuller understanding of self esteem. Also that you have received some ways you can boost your own feelings of self worth, importance and ability. If you are struggling with low self esteem and it is getting you down and stopping you from living your fullest and best life then counselling can help. So do reach out for help. If you have any questions or need any information then please get in touch on 01635 791 301 or contact us here.

Warm wishes,

The Total Health Team

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