Self-esteem is the degree to which one feels confident, valuable, and worthy of respect. It exists on a continuum from high to low. Where a person’s self-esteem falls on this spectrum can influence one’s overall well-being.
People with high self-esteem often feel good about themselves and their progress through life. People with low self-esteem often feel shame and self-doubt. They often spend lots of time criticizing themselves. Low self-esteem is a symptom of several mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Low self-esteem is not represented as its own diagnosis in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V). Yet its symptoms and effects are very real. People who wish to improve their self-esteem can get help from a therapist.
Internally, poor self-regard often manifests as self-criticism. Common examples of negative self-talk include:
There’s nothing I truly like about myself.
I’ll never do well enough at school or work to succeed.
I’m not worthy of seeking things that interest me.
Other people are more deserving of happiness.
No one wants to hear about my life or the issues I’m facing.
It’s all my fault I can’t seem to find people who are good to me. Good people wouldn’t want to be with me, anyway.
Over time, negative thoughts can become so frequent the person sees them as fact. When left on a loop, this thought process can be very damaging.