How To Improve Self-Esteem and Why It Is Important

What is Self-Esteem?


              Self-esteem is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "a confidence and satisfaction in oneself" (2019).  Self-esteem is a person's belief in themselves and their abilities to do certain things or overcome obstacles.  Although there are several different reasons people may have low self-esteem, it is often traced back to a dysfunctional childhood or adolescence (Venzin, 2018).  Sometimes people with low self-esteem struggle with a belief their physical appearance, intelligence, or character is less than that of another. 

Why is self-esteem important?

              One's self-esteem can impact their mental health by reducing the person's quality of life and sometimes leading to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors (Venzin, 2018).  When someone has low self-esteem, they have minimal or no belief in their ability to do things and often avoid doing things because they do not believe they can be successful in doing this.  It is common for people with low self-esteem to struggle with depression and/or anxiety or people with depression and/or anxiety to struggle with low self-esteem; it continues to be unclear if the chicken or the egg comes first in this situation (Gold, 2016).  For some, depression and anxiety lead to low self-esteem and sometimes low self-esteem can lead to depression and/or anxiety.  Research also indicates that people with low self-esteem are at a higher risk to have unhealthy relationships and are also at a higher risk to develop an addiction of some kind (Gold, 2016). 

What helps low self-esteem?

              Some of the things to help with low self-esteem include being mindful and aware that you are having negative thoughts about yourself and actively working to change those thoughts which a therapist can help you work through. For example, if someone has a thought thinking they are "stupid, ugly, or fat" it is helpful to change that perspective to a positive thought that they are smart, attractive and desirable.  To do this, a therapist will work with them to help them recognize the negative thoughts so they can actively visualize a switch going from negative to positive thoughts about themselves.  A therapist may also help them recognize their strengths and help them focus more on their strengths than perceived weaknesses. 

What can you do?

              If you have low self-esteem, you can schedule an appointment with one of our therapists here to help you find your strengths and build off them.  If you have a friend or a family member that you believe is struggling with low self-esteem, depression or anxiety, just be there for them and listen when they need someone to talk to.  Of course, you could suggest they see a therapist, but some people do not see that as a helpful gesture so just play that one by ear.  If you or someone you know is having thoughts of hurting themselves or others, take them to the closest emergency department or call 911 for emergency response.