Low self-esteem could be described as the bane of modern society. How are we supposed to measure up to the glamourous images we see all over TV and Social Media? If you’re full of self-loathing and your feelings of self-worth are rock bottom, it’s time to put things straight…
On this page we’ll look at some of the possible causes of low self-esteem and what you can do about it.
Plus, there’s a free self esteem questionnaire to help you get an accurate picture of how much (or little) you value yourself at the moment. Rest assured, things can and will change with the right help and effort.
Let’s find out how…
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What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem – the feeling of being ‘rubbish’ or ‘not good enough’ – probably has its origins way back in your history.
As a kid, perhaps you were told that you were useless, pathetic, bad, unwanted or stupid. Maybe you were told much worse?
It’s in those awkward, emotional situations that you went into a confusion-type trance. Any words said to you (or deeds done to you) stuck like glue in that trance state.
And with repetition those messages embedded themselves into the unconscious mind, shaping your identity. A self-fulfilling prophecy then took hold as you unconsciously sought evidence to support those words and beliefs about yourself.
But here’s the thing…
The beliefs are faulty. They say nothing about who you truly are as a human being.
Can memories be changed?
One of the main reasons I use hypnosis is that it makes changing stuck beliefs a lot easier. See, many of those beliefs were given to you (or forced on you) by others. They don’t even belong to you.
But it’s not just beliefs that can be changed with hypnosis…
Memories of abuse, embarrassment, humiliation, indeed, any negative memory can be changed in hypnosis because memories are not set in stone…
Sure, you can’t change what happened back then but you can change the emotional charge those memories hold over you.
In other words, in hypnosis you can change the way your brain processed (and still processes) old negative memories. Instead of the limbic system holding sway, the more rational, higher-cortex can take over, laying the ghosts to rest.
RELATED CONTENT: Find out how hypnotherapy helps with trauma and PTSD
Low self-esteem as a result of life’s setbacks
But what if you had a perfectly normal childhood but still suffer from low self-esteem? What might be the causes?
If this is the case, your self esteem may have been affected in response to a temporary setback in your adult life.
You may have been made redundant, have financial difficulties or relationship problems, for instance.
The thing is that we all sometimes over-react to life’s setbacks such as losing a job or being left by a lover.
Once again, just like in the earlier childhood incidents, our strong emotions reduce us to black and white/all-or-nothing thinking and meaning-making.
This is a trance in itself in that your perception of reality is severely restricted and distorted.
The problems with black and white thinking
Black and white thinking is driven by the emotional or ‘survival’ brain. It assumes that just because one thing went wrong, everything is now hopeless…
If you have a ‘bad day’ your whole life is a disaster…If you ‘fail’ at something it means you’re no good at anything…If your lover walks out the door you’ll never fall in love again.
See how limiting this is? And at the same time, how global? One thing becomes everything. That’s how the emotional or ‘survival’ brain operates.
Of course, in the right context it could save your life. You need the immediate response of the survival brain if a mad axeman is running towards you – not the reasoning faculties of your higher cortex. To hesitate and ponder could mean death.
But the trouble is that once you’re in that black and white/survival mode, your perception of reality – and of yourself – is distorted. You perceive through an emotional filter, losing sight of who you really are, writing yourself of as a hopeless failure.
RELATED CONTENT: Find out how to get out of black and white thinking
Why very high self-esteem is dangerous
You might think that the solution to low self-esteem is to start esteeming yourself highly. But very high self-esteem is not the opposite of low self-esteem and is not something you should be aiming for at all.
As certain wise and knowledgeable people have pointed out for millennia, esteeming the self is damaging…
People with very high self esteem tend to be selfish, greedy, arrogant and take little account of other people’s feelings and opinions. It is akin to narcissism.
The problem is that high self-esteem has become a buzz word with psychologists and self-help gurus.
These so-called experts tell us that having high self esteem is vital for our mental health. But the truth is that positive feelings about yourself emerge naturally when you engage with life in meaningful ways…
Self-esteem and emotional needs
When you learn new skills and develop new competencies, feel emotionally connected to other people, and feel that your life has a purpose, you start meeting vital emotional needs.
When you engage in activities that truly give you a sense of value and when you are helping and serving others, that is when you will feel best about who you are.
It might sound paradoxical but the best way to feel better about yourself is to forget about yourself.
In other words, the more you focus outwards, away from yourself – engaged in positive behaviours and healthy relationships – the better you will feel about yourself.
This is one of the ways that nature therapy or forest bathing helps. Out in nature, with your attention directed away from yourself, you gain some freedom from the inner turmoil. The less you feed those demons, the more likely they are to wither away in time.
The self-esteem scale – how to get an accurate measure of your self-worth
The truth is that self-esteem goes up and down naturally. Some times we feel good about ourselves, some times not so good.
The better your emotional needs are met (and if you are free from trauma and negative conditioning) the more likely you’ll feel good about who you are.
The key thing to understand is that when emotional needs are met your self esteem naturally rises and if needs are not met, esteem is vulnerable to falling. Simple.
So, let’s now look at how to get an accurate measure of your self-esteem…
In the PDF below you’ll be able to score your current level of self-esteem. The results will reflect how you generally feel about yourself at the moment.
This is probably best done when you’re feeling calm so that you’re free from the distortions of the emotional brain.
Save the PDF to your device and follow the instructions…
Remember, self-esteem is changeable so even if you score low there’s plenty you can do to help yourself.
If you would like some professional help just get in touch. Remember, I offer all clients a free, no-obligation 20 minute consultation.
Or if you like the idea of improving your self-esteem at your own pace, check out this online course from my hypnotherapy trainers: 10 Steps to Solid Self-Esteem…