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  • What does it mean to have good self-esteem?

Good self-esteem is the ability to accept and recognize your own worth. You know you are good enough as you are, you are able to say yes and no when there is a need for it. You don't have to be a certain way to feel loved or cared for. You contain yourself and your feelings.

  • Low self-esteem

A low self-esteem is that you do NOT accept and recognize your own worth. You don't feel good enough as you are. People who suffer from low self-esteem live their lives based on a negative self-image. This negative self-image can become so strong over time that it influences all areas of one's life.

  • The symptoms of low self-esteem? Often there is an inner self-critical voice. Let's call it, 'The Inner Critic'. The inner critic contributes negative thought content about oneself and one's achievements and if you live from the inner critic then it will express itself as:

Pleasing behavior (examples):

You can't relax unless you make sure everyone else is well You compare yourself to others

Find it hard to say no

High expectations for oneself

Difficulty receiving praise, acceptance and love

Experience that others do not recognize one

Often feels insecurity, guilt and shame

Gets a bad conscience easily

Think you are boring or uninteresting

You can feel like a burden on your surroundings


Doubts about own abilities

You may have difficulty making decisions

The feeling of not really knowing yourself

Vulnerable to criticism

Don't feel your deserve good things in life

The good news is, you weren't born with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is founded in childhood and fluctuates throughout life. You therefore have the opportunity to work with and develop a solid and healthy self-esteem throughout your life. And you are not alone, about one in five people has low self-esteem and struggles with the same feelings as you.

  • Reasons for low self-esteem A healthy self-esteem is developed by loving parents who express that they love you – regardless of what feelings you have and regardless of how you look or behave. This means they don't make their love conditional on what you can or do, for example good behaviour, good grades at school or being good at your sport. This is the complete opposite of how narcissistic parents would raise their child.

There can be many reasons for low self-esteem. Each person has their own story to tell in this context. For some, it is the caregiver who has been very critical of you, or perhaps you may have experienced being bullied, being exposed to manipulation or high degrees of stress. The consequence is that you now fail to be kind to yourself and instead, you have a critical inner voice that constantly criticizes you. This type of inner talk is what maintains low self-esteem.

  • Do you know the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence? Self-esteem is the value you give yourself and the feelings you have. It is an acceptance of who you are, with the faults and shortcomings, strengths and good sides you have.

Confidence is more about what you can do and what you do. Confidence is the way you use your skills in relation to other people.

This means you may be very confident in some areas, but have poor self-esteem. And often you see that the struggle out of low self-esteem is an attempt to strengthen confidence. Sadly these efforts will not help, this is not the way to improve your self-esteem. That only comes with kindness and compassion towards yourself.

  • Behavior When self-esteem is low, you'r mood suffers and you entertain many worrying thoughts. You may find it difficult to speak up and articulate your own needs. This, in part, means you are at risk of becoming overburdened with your own and other people's problems and in the worst case it lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

You may have a lot of focus on yourself and your own pain, and end up misinterpreting others actions or intentions. This can lead to exaggerated empathy so that you become 'over-caring and over-responsible' and at the same time very vulnerable to criticism and adversity.

  • What can you do yourself:

It's never too late to develop healthy self-esteem.

Give your thoughts a critical look, as it is the negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself that cause low self-esteem.

Discover how you talk to yourself. examples could be "If I make mistakes, I'm not good enough." Or: "If others are angry with me, there is something wrong with me." Behind these thoughts are rules of living and beliefs that are unrealistic - for example, that you must never make mistakes or that you must never disagree with anyone. When you become aware of your thoughts, you have the opportunity to change them

Become practical about your thoughts - just like when you are clearing out your home, you get to decide what items you want to keep or throw out. So a helpful tip is to become aware of your thoughts and decide 'Does that thought help me, or does it make life harder for me?'

We all have a need for compassion, love, recognition and acceptance. The trick is not to depend on others to give it to us, but practice the art of self compassion.

You strengthen your self-esteem when you create success with your actions. For example, if you want recognition from others, start by acknowledging both yourself and them.

Work on accepting the parts of you, that you want to improve. Decide what you want to change, and accept what you cannot change. As the Serenity Prayer goes:

  • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,

Remember that it takes patience and practice to work with your vulnerabilities, you may want help to reach your goal.

A good therapist is be an option. If you want my support, please feel free to contact me.

Wishing you well,

Brigitte Escobar

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About Brigitte

I am a certified Organic Psychotherapist (MPF), specializing in narcissism and personal development.

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