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It is common to have doubts about your own abilities, especially during times of high stress. This does not necessarily lead to low self-esteem. It is how we judge our personal worth that has the biggest impact on our self-esteem.

People who have low self-esteem often feel depressed and have a pessimistic view of the future. They doubt their abilities to succeed and because of this, they often do not attempt the task in the first place. They tend to self-criticize and blame themselves. Continuing to live with low self-esteem puts people at risk of being victims of abuse, bullying and mental illnesses such as depression, eating disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Signs you may have low self-esteem include:

  • You have poor body image or are fixated on a body part that you consider undesirable
  • You are often envious of other people, even ‘minor’ accomplishments
  • You have suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • You find it difficult to make or keep friendships
  • You feel a sense of shame or embarrassment about your thoughts, behaviour or identity
  • Believing that you are not good at anything, or that other people are much better than you at things
  • You have trouble asking for or accepting help from others
  • When something unpleasant happens to you, you blame your personal failings first, before considering external causes (i.e. bad luck) for the event
  • You feel isolated or lonely a lot of the time

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

There are many factors that can contribute to one’s self-esteem. Some of these factors include:

  • Unhappy childhoods
  • Poor academic records
  • Especially critical parents or overly protective parents
  • Stressful life events
  • Heavy exposure to social media/media that suggests the need to eliminate “flaws”
  • Having anxiety or depression
  • Ongoing illness or disability

Having a healthy self-esteem is about self-acceptance; believing you have worth; you can accomplish your goals because you believe you can achieve them; you are resilient and are able to thrive in challenging circumstances.

How can Psychologists help?

There are a number of treatments available that are effective at tackling low self-esteem. For example:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps to:

  • Identify specific situations which evoke low self-esteem and help you to correct the invalid criticisms and misperceptions
  • Help you focus on your skills rather than your ‘failings’
  • Acknowledge your underlying core values and beliefs about what you should or shouldn’t be and challenge these

Assertiveness training, which can help you build self-esteem by:

  • Improving communication with friends, family and co-workers and increasing your self-worth

Goal planning can help increase and maintain a healthy self-esteem by:

  • Allowing a sense of achievement
  • Giving you a sense of drive and motivation
  • Providing opportunities to prove to yourself that you have value



Medicare rebates are available. You will need a referral from your doctor.


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