Often when a therapist asks a client what has made him or her decide to seek help, the client will reply “I have low self-esteem”. What does this mean and how does one overcome it?
People with healthy self-esteem usually respect themselves and show themselves to be comfortable with their lot in life. They usually interact with others positively, are respected by them and are aware of this. They demonstrate that they can set themselves reasonable goals and achieve these.
Those who see themselves as having low self-esteem often reveal a poor self-image with a sense of personal powerlessness in the world. They may not know what they want. They may have had goals in the past but have found them to be unattainable. They frequently believe that others have gifts and abilities denied to them.
They may try to hide low self-esteem by pretending to be competent and capable but internally they will still feel like a fraud or a fake. This pretense often results in losing intimacy and authenticity in relationships and frequently this results in anxiety or depression.
What can a therapist offer to someone with low self-esteem? The seeds of low self-esteem are usually sown in childhood, nurtured by parents and other significant people, so that the growing person takes on a belief in their lack of ability. Such a belief system needs to be uncovered and challenged as it will have perniciously influenced everything a person has done. Challenging a belief can lead a person to recognise its invalidity and thus become able to replace it.
As well as investigating the origins of low self-esteem therapy, needs to be future-oriented. A person seeking help needs to learn how to take control of life and how to be in charge of it. The therapist can help the client explore what is currently going wrong and encourage the client to find ways to change this.
So a two-pronged approach can be undertaken, with one prong seeking to understand how the low self-esteem arose and the other prong seeking to change current manifestations of the low self-esteem. All psychotherapists will be able to assist with this.