What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how we value ourselves; it is how we perceive our value to the world and how valuable we think we are to others. Self-esteem affects our trust in others, our relationships, our work – nearly every aspect of our lives. Positive self-esteem gives us the strength and flexibility to take charge of our lives and grow from our mistakes without the fear of rejection. Low self-esteem on the other hand can hold us back and can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. 

Signs of low self-esteem

One of the most common features of low self-esteem is negative self-talk and self-criticism. People with low self-esteem regard themselves critically and may feel a never ending sense of failure, unworthiness or lack of accomplishment. Feelings of low self-esteem are sustained by constantly criticizing themselves and themselves to others. These negative messages are seldom true, but the thought patterns may be so ingrained in a person’s behavior that it has become part of their identity and his or hers perceived reality. 

Low self-esteem is also closely associated with the following conditions and experiences:

  • Codependency
  • Perfectionism
  • Social and general anxiety
  • Shame
  • Depression
  • Inadequacy
  • Sensitivity to criticism