How to Manage Low Self-Esteem - 7 Practical Solutions for a Long Lasting Transformation

Self-esteem is an important factor in our overall well-being and ability to lead a fulfilling life. Low self-esteem can be debilitating and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and fear. While the causes of low self-esteem vary from person to person, there are some practical strategies that therapists use to help their clients manage it. Fortunately, we’ll explore 7 practical therapy solutions for a long lasting transformation of low self-esteem.

What Is Low Self-Esteem?

Self Esteem Text

Low self-esteem is a pervasive problem that many people struggle with. It has been defined as an overall negative evaluation of oneself, including feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness. Low self-esteem can lead to negative thoughts and behaviors that limit our potential for growth and prevent us from achieving our goals.

For women, low self-esteem can be especially damaging due to the multiple pressures they may face in today’s society. Societal expectations for women often involve being perfect; professional success, looking good, pleasing those around them and taking on extra responsibilities are all ways to maintain a positive image. When this becomes too much for someone to handle, low self-esteem can creep in, leading to feelings of unworthiness or despair.

When someone has low self-esteem, it can also show in their body with things like chronic headaches or feeling tired all the time from trying to do everything. People suffering from low self-esteem might also feel anxiety or depression related to their feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. They may also feel isolated or disconnected from those around them, often believing that no one truly understands what they are going through.

Fortunately there are ways to combat low self-esteem and find balance within our lives. Finding positive coping strategies or seeking professional help can be beneficial for anyone struggling with issues related to low self esteem. By understanding the causes and implications of it, we can work towards creating long lasting change in our own lives so that we have the confidence and resilience needed to become the best version of ourselves possible!

Feeling Unworthy: The Experience of Low Self-Esteem

As a mother from North Dallas, I know all too well the feeling of worthlessness that comes with having low self-esteem. Ever since my late childhood years, I felt like I was not good enough; no matter how hard I tried, it seemed like nothing would ever be enough. This led to feelings of insecurity and anxiety that ultimately kept me from reaching my full potential. It was only after I sought professional help that I realized the underlying source of my low self-esteem: a deep belief that I was not worthy of love and acceptance. This mindset had been with me for so long, it felt like an unshakable part of my identity. Fortunately, with time and effort, as well as support from my therapist, I eventually arrived at a place where I could take control of my life and begin to rebuild my self-esteem. With her guidance, I started to understand the root causes of my low self-esteem, which gave me the insight necessary to confront the problem and start making positive changes in my life. She helped me develop a sense of resilience and confidence that allowed me to tackle challenges head-on instead of cowering away from them in fear. Therapy has made all the difference in helping me transform into an emotionally strong individual who can stand up for herself when needed and take ownership over her future success. It’s been an enlightening experience that has enabled me to no longer feel ashamed or unworthy, but instead embrace myself completely with an improved self-image and greater appreciation for life itself!

Tammy suffered from self-esteem issues for nearly 20 years

Understanding the Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Thought bubble on low self esteem

As an LPCC licensed therapist, I believe that the underlying causes of low self-esteem originate from the negative thoughts and beliefs we each have about ourselves. Such beliefs are usually shaped by our experiences in life, particularly during childhood. Those who often experience mistreatment or criticism may be more likely to develop low self-esteem. Factors that contribute to this could include things like:

How Experience with Punishment, Abuse, and Neglect Can Affect Self-Esteem

  • Punishment, abuse, and neglect are very powerful experiences. Children who experience them often jump to the mistaken conclusion that they are bad and must have deserved what happened to them.

Falling short of other people’s expectations.

  • You might feel inadequate if you did not meet the standards of someone else, such as a parent or an authority figure. It is easy for people with low self-esteem to focus on this failure regardless of whether these expectations were reasonable in the first place. This leaves them feeling like they are never quite good enough.

Research sources that discuss how insufficient warmth and affection can lead to low self-esteem

  • The lack of warm and affectionate interactions between a child and their parents or caregivers can have a powerful effect on the development of self-esteem. When children do not receive positive reinforcement and attention, they may come to believe that they are unworthy of love and acceptance in the world. Such children may go on to develop low self-esteem as adults because they never learned to form meaningful connections with others or trust themselves enough to pursue meaningful goals.

Struggling to find your place among your peers.

  • Being part of a collective or community is essential to our existence – it’s one of the core needs we must fulfill. During adolescence, when individuals are creating their identity, standing out from others or feeling like an outsider can have a meaningful influence on how they view themselves.
  • In addition, many people who suffer from low self-esteem were victims of bullying growing up, which can be a major contributing factor. Bullying is closely related to feelings of inadequacy, as it reinforces negative beliefs about oneself while also creating strong feelings of shame and humiliation.
Questioning if you have low self esteem.

While only a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose you with low self-esteem, the following questions may provide some insight into whether it would be beneficial to seek a formal assessment. Please indicate your level of agreement with the questions below on a scale from 1-5, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree. Your responses will help you understand the degree to which you are affected by this condition.

  • Do you believe that your self-esteem is a reflection of who you are as a person?
  • Are there any beliefs that are holding you back from feeling confident and empowered?
  • Do negative thoughts about yourself affect your decision-making ability?
  • How do past experiences contribute to your current sense of self-worth?
  • Is it beneficial to compare yourself to others in order to gauge your own worthiness?
  • Can we all be our own biggest critics at times?
  • Are there any healthy ways for you to cope with feelings of low self-esteem?
  • I have a lot of bad qualities.
  • Are you feeling dissatisfied with yourself?


If you self-identify with the majority of questions above and strongly agree to most of them, it may be hinting at your struggles with low self-esteem. It is recommended that you reach out for assistance from a medical professional or mental health expert in order to gain understanding regarding how these feelings are affecting your life.

If your score is 20 or below, you can probably handle this question on your own. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the questionnaire should not be used as a substitute for an accurate diagnosis from a professional. If you have further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us or another reliable specialist.

What Perpetuates Low Self-Esteem?

Person with low self esteem

According substantial research, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is one of the most efficient treatments available to those struggling with low self-esteem. CBT therapists take the stance that, while a certain issue may be set off by something else, what matters more is pinpointing why it persists and how to cease its influence on your life.

Dr. Melanie Fennell, a clinical psychologist, developed a noteworthy CBT model of low self-esteem, using her research and experience as a guide. According to Fennell’s model, negative beliefs surrounding oneself arise from how they have been treated in life; these are known as ‘core beliefs’.

Core beliefs defined:

“I’m worthless” or “I’m no good”, which are deeply rooted in one’s mind. When people have to face their core beliefs, it can be very upsetting and hard. So people develop ways to protect themselves from facing these beliefs. Individuals with diminished self-worth tend to subscribe to stringent and inflexible standards such as “I must always please others,” or, “As long as I avoid criticism then all is good.”

When these rules don’t seem fair, it can cause anxiety. If someone believes that their worthiness depends on making others happy, any time this isn’t achieved could be upsetting. Confronted with such a dilemma, people often assume the worst-case scenario. For instance, feeling humiliated if the expectations are not fulfilled. This causes them to become harsh and self-critical of themselves, thus avoiding any potential risk.

According to Fennell’s model, all of these elements work together in a continuing cycle of stress where the individual’s protective strategies may actually stop them from attaining higher self-esteem instead of aiding it.

What therapy treatment options are there for a low self-esteem?

Person with low self esteem doing CBT

It’s important to recognize when it’s time to ask for help and explore different therapy options. Low self-esteem can be a debilitating condition and affect many aspects of life, ranging from relationships to job performance. Fortunately, therapists have a variety of therapeutic options that have been proven to be effective in treating low self-esteem.

Therapists tools for treating for low self-esteem

To improve low self-esteem, several psychological treatments have been developed and studied to demonstrate their effectiveness. Among them are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and compassion focused therapy (CFT). At times, these same therapies may even be used for treating depression as well.

How cognitive behavioral therapy is effective:

  • Discovering your core convictions, determining the regulations to abide by, creating more flexible values and standards while trialing your adverse predictions through active trials.
  • Facing fears head-on and switching self-judgment with empathy. Living in accordance with these new beliefs is how you can take control of anxiety and accomplish lasting transformation.

How compassion focused therapy is effective:

  • Compassion focused therapy (CFT) emphasizes the importance of concepts such as self-compassion, mindfulness and acceptance in promoting psychological wellbeing. It aims to help individuals develop a non-judgmental attitude towards themselves, building resilience and improving both physical and mental health. Through this approach, individuals can learn to better understand their own emotions and needs, allowing them to make well-informed decisions which can ultimately lead to improved self-esteem.

Why are there no medical treatments for low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem is a complex psychological condition that can be caused by many different factors. As such, there are currently no medical treatments for this condition, though certain medications may be prescribed to help manage its associated symptoms like depression or anxiety. The focus of treatment for low self-esteem is typically on providing patients with cognitive-behavioral therapies and psychotherapy through which they can learn to identify and address their negative beliefs about themselves. This in turn can aid them in building the necessary skills to improve their self-confidence and hence their overall psychological well-being.

What are the 5 practical solutions to a low self-esteem?

Keyboard button of solutions
  • Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Self-esteem is largely driven by a person’s own perceptions, so recognizing and challenging unhelpful beliefs about oneself can be an important first step in improving one’s self-esteem.
  • Set realistic goals: Setting manageable and achievable goals not only helps to boost motivation but can also help an individual to build self-confidence and resilience.
  • Develop social support network: Utilizing the help of supportive friends, family members, or even a therapist can be a great way to practice positive affirmations and gain reassurance from someone who cares about you. Additionally, connecting with others in similar situations can help foster feelings of belonging and acceptance.
  • Increase physical activity: Physical activity can be an effective way to reduce stress and feelings of depression, which in turn can help to build self-esteem.
  • Practice self-care: Incorporating activities such as yoga and meditation can be great ways to help.

Why is having a low self-esteem so complex?

low self-esteem can be as complex as a rubiks cube.

Remember that low self-esteem can be a complex psychological condition that requires a multi-faceted approach to treatment. With therapy approaches CFT, and CBT, those suffering from low self-esteem can learn to challenge their negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Through this process, individuals can work towards improving their self-confidence and ultimately achieve an improved psychological well-being. If you feel like you are suffering from self-esteem issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. NorthStar Counseling & Therapy therapists are fully licensed, nationally accredited and ready to help.

Don't suffer any Longer, Let Us Help.

Don’t let a low self-esteem hold you back any longer. Instantly schedule with us at Northstar Counseling & Therapy to start building a more confident and fulfilling life for yourself today.

Megan Corrieri

Megan Corrieri

Owner, Clinician, Wife & Mom


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