Self-esteem is one of the most important psychological variables for emotional health, well-being and is key in our positive relationship with the environment. But, unfortunately, not everyone has adequate self-esteem.

Many people, whether or not they attend psychotherapy, suffer the effects of low self-esteem. Fortunately, this is something that can be changed.

The studies assure that this important aspect of personality is not something static, but that it can vary throughout a person’s life, and according to the psychologist Silvia Congost, author of the book Automatic Self-Esteem , its development depends approximately on 30% of genetic factors, and the rest, that is to say 70%, depends on the environment and the experiences that we have had to live.

There are several types of self-esteem. If you want to know them you can read our article: “The 4 types of self-esteem: do you value yourself?”

The relationship between low self-esteem and emotional balance

Low self-esteem is a real problem that many people face , because it can negatively affect the different areas of their lives. In short, low self-esteem causes suffering and prevents us from achieving many of our goals or desires. Negative thinking patterns associated with low self-esteem (for example, thinking that everything you do will go wrong) can lead to serious mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Low self-esteem is crippling, and makes it difficult to try new things or carry out different day-to-day tasks , as well as to start a new hobby or look for a job. This prevents you from living the life you want, and leads to frustration and discomfort over time.

Whoever finds himself in this situation and wants to get out of this negative spiral, only by doing hard work of self-reflection and recognizing his level of self-esteem will he be able to improve it and therefore increase his well-being. In some cases, the person cannot achieve this on his own, so it will be necessary to see a specialist psychologist. Even so, it is the person who wants to change who has to make the effort to achieve it , since the psychologist only provides the tools for change.

What causes low self-esteem?

The thoughts you have about yourself seem to be absolute realities, but they are still only opinions . They are based on the experiences you have had in life, and the messages these experiences have brought to form a picture of who you are. If you have had bad experiences, it is likely that the assessment about yourself will be negative. The crucial experiences that help shape these negative or positive beliefs about ourselves are likely (though not always) to occur at an early age.

What you have seen, felt and experienced during childhood and adolescence, in your family, school or community in general, has a determining effect on how you value yourself in the future.

Examples of these experiences are presented below:

  • Systematic punishment or abuse
  • Not meeting parents’ expectations
  • Not meeting the expectations of friends and peers
  • Being a “scapegoat” for others in times of stress or distress
  • Belonging to families or social groups characterized by lack of affection and disinterest
  • Being treated like the black sheep of the family or school

Psychological problems associated with low self-esteem

In addition to the above causes, sometimes negative self-evaluations are caused by negative experiences that have happened later in life. For example, painful break-ups or abusive relationships, persistent stress, bullying or mobbing, etc. Therefore, the relationship between psychological problems and self-esteem is a reality.

Many psychological or emotional problems are associated with low self-esteem, and this is why one of the most frequent reasons for psychological consultation. And since self-esteem can cause other types of problems (depression, eating disorders, addictions, anxiety, etc.), it is necessary to take action in this regard

Stop being your worst enemy: strategies to improve self-esteem

Low self-esteem is very much related to how you value and react to things that happen. If you want to stop being one of those people with low self-esteem, you can follow these tips to stop being your worst enemy and improve your self-esteem:

1. Set realistic goals

Feeling frustrated by trying to achieve overly difficult goals leads to low self-esteem. The reason is simpler than it seems: if we often see that despite our efforts we do not achieve what we wanted to achieve, it makes us feel smaller than the environment in which we live, which happens to seem hostile. We will tend to focus our attention on that supposed failure, and not on the nuances of why we set out to achieve that goal in the first place or why we don’t value our possibilities properly.

That does not mean that we are not ambitious, it means that we must be careful to weigh up our possibilities and consider whether we lack the preparation or material means to aspire to something.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others

Comparing ourselves with others leads us to fall into a vicious circle; once we have entered into that competitive mentality, it is difficult to stop. The obsession with wanting to surpass others is capable of preventing us from enjoying our achievements without going on to feel discomfort about remaining “below” someone who surpasses us in a certain skill.

3. Appreciate your qualities

Another of the most useful tips to stop having low self-esteem and love yourself is to stop and think about our merits and our achievements when we reach one that is meaningful to us.

Other tips to improve self-concept

Other recommendations to combat low self-esteem include the following:

  • Treat yourself with love and look at life positively
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Make constructive criticism of yourself
  • Give yourself time
  • Practice physical exercise
  • Try to be assertive

You can learn more about these strategies and techniques to improve self-esteem in our article: “10 keys to increase your self-esteem in 30 days”

Seeking help to learn to love oneself

If you find that you have a serious self-esteem problem and this has not worked, you need to solve it as soon as possible because you don’t have to suffer any longer. So, instead of hiding and looking the other way, you can

  • Talking to your family or close friends
  • Talk to your GP for advice on what to do
  • Seeking therapy with a specialized psychologist