Issues with self-esteem and self-image
Our self-esteem is the degree to which we feel confident, valuable, and worthy of respect. It exists on a continuum from high to low. Our overall well-being can be influenced by where our self-esteem falls on this spectrum. When we have high self-esteem we can see both ourselves and the world around us in a negative light, whereas when we have low self-esteem we may feel unhappy and find it more difficult to cope with challenges when they come up. We may also struggle to develop relationships, to try new things and to take risks. Of course, the opinion we have about ourselves can be influenced by many different things, from our childhoods to life events.
If you have low self-esteem for a long time, you may find that it affects your mental health. It can lead to conditions such as depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders. Some of the signs of low self-esteem, like feeling worthless and blaming yourself can also be symptoms of these conditions. You may also find that low self-esteem makes it difficult to socialise which can lead to isolation. Feeling isolated and lonely can make you feel worse mentally. Some people will turn to unhelpful habits and behaviours to try and cope with low self-esteem, including drinking too much alcohol and abusing drugs.
If you have a mental health condition, you may also find that your self-esteem is affected. For example depression can often make those with the condition feel worthless and anxiety can lead to people thinking they’re not ‘good enough’.
Building self-esteem and dealing with the implications of low self-esteem can be difficult to do alone. Psychodynamic counselling can help you understand where your opinion of yourself stems from and how to challenge limiting beliefs. It can also help you develop more awareness of your personal history and how this impacts who you are today.