Having a healthy sense of self-esteem means you have a positive opinion of yourself and essentially, like who you are. When you don’t feel good about yourself and your abilities, this can make certain elements of your life more difficult. Personal effectiveness is very much determined by self-esteem; how we value ourselves as human beings, and how positively we view our current ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Self-esteem can be changed, however. Our self-esteem is made up of various beliefs we have about who we are and what we’re capable of. We can do something concrete about how we are thinking and feeling about ourselves now.

What is low Self-esteem

  • Low self-esteem is when someone lacks confidence about who they are and what they can do. You may often feel incompetent, unloved, or inadequate. People who struggle with low self-esteem are consistently afraid about making mistakes or letting other people down.
  • Having self-esteem issues can be detrimental to your health and negatively affect your personal and professional relationships. There are many reasons why you may have low self-esteem — your genes, how and where you grew up, and other life circumstances all play a role.
  • A major factor of low self-esteem, however, comes from your own mental state. Your inner voice, or the thoughts in your head, can be constantly telling you that you are not good enough or worth anything, even if there is evidence to the contrary. Negative thinking in general is linked to low self-worth and low self-esteem.

Why is High Self Esteem important in the coaching relationship?

  • If you have high self-esteem, you are more likely to believe in your chances of accomplishing your goals.
  • You will feel worthy of the rewards that achieving your goals will bring e.g. a higher salary, weigh loss, improved relationships, ditching bad habits.
  • This greater confidence and feelings of worthiness will lead you to work harder in pursuit of your dreams and visions.
  • Believing you can achieve your goals, and working harder to achieve them, greatly increases your chances of success. If you have low self- esteem, the opposite is true. You do not believe in your ability to achieve success and you feel unworthy of the rewards which that success would bring.

How to identify low Self Esteem?

There are several signs that either you or someone you know may be struggling with low self-esteem. Those signs of low self-esteem may include:

  • Sensitivity to Criticism: If you have low self-esteem you may be extra sensitive to criticism, whether from others or yourself. You see it only as reinforcing your flaws and confirming that you are incapable of doing anything right.
  • Social Withdrawal: Declining invitations to go to a party or meet up with friends, cancelling scheduled plans last-minute, and generally not wanting to be around others are signs of low self-esteem. You may not have any desire to hold a conversation or talk about your life because it will only reinforce the depression and anxiety you are already experiencing.
  • Hostility: For someone with low self-esteem, lashing out or becoming aggressive towards others is a defence mechanism. If you feel that you are about to be exposed or criticized, attacking whoever might criticize you can be a sign of low self-esteem.
  • Excessive Preoccupation with Personal Problems (or work): Consistently worrying about your own personal issues takes up a lot of time for someone with low self-esteem. You may struggle to help or empathize with someone else’s problems because you are too preoccupied with your own.

Physical Symptoms : Low self-esteem has been shown to lead to mental and physical health issues like depression, anxiety, and anorexia. It can also lead to unhealthy habits like smoking tobacco, over eating, alcohol abuse, or drug use.

Some other indications of low self-esteem

  • Difficulty speaking up and prioritizing your own needs, wants, and feelings: This may be especially prominent in the context of what others want or need.
  • Saying “I’m sorry” and/or feeling guilty for everyday actions : Feeling guilty for things like taking up space; apologizing for things that you have no control or responsibility for.
  • Not “rocking the boat” : Tendency to follow along with what others are doing, saying, wearing, and going.
  • Not feeling deserving of, or capable of, having “more”: This can lead to unfulfilling (or even toxic) relationships; unsatisfactory or low paying jobs; and overall lower standards.
  • Difficulty making your own choices: And, after making them, having trouble standing by them.
  • Lack of boundaries: Which can lead to vulnerability and hurt.
  • Doing things or buying gifts excessively for other people: Even for those who wouldn’t appreciate it, in order to feel wanted, needed, recognized.
  • Negative self-perception: Not thinking people would like or accept you for who you are.
  • Critical, abusive internal dialogue : Such as talking harshly to yourself and perpetuating negative self-talk.

Ask yourself, do you have?

  • A lack of confidence
  • A desire to please people
  • Have an overall negative outlook
  • Feelings of shame
  • Unable to ask for what you need
  • A low sense of self worth

What influences self-esteem?

  • Our self-esteem is often formed in our early years and is influenced by many factors. Genetics and personality type has a role to play, but often it is the experiences we have that contribute to our self-esteem levels.
  • If you grew up around people who were particularly critical of you, for example, family, friends, teachers or other authority figures, you may be more likely to experience self-esteem problems. Other experiences such as bullying and experiencing abuse can also be influential in your self-esteem levels.
  • Your particular circumstances can also come into it. If you have a chronic illness or disability, if you face discrimination, if you’re struggling financially- all of these concerns can affect your relationship with yourself.

Essentials for high self-esteem

It is important that you focus on maintaining high self-esteem. You will need to identify the people/things which bring you down and remove them from their life. Also, you will need to find the people/things which raise your self-esteem and increase their presence in their life. The following are some simple tips that you can start using today if you feel that your self-esteem needs a boost:

  1. Self-Appreciation – write a list of all your top qualities, as many as you can and read it back to yourself every morning.
  2. List of past successes – write a list of all your past successes/achievements and read it back to yourself every morning.
  3. Don’t put yourself down – can you recall the last time you did? Keep a tally/score of every time you speak or think negatively about yourself. Remember to try and identify what you were thinking at that moment, our thoughts create our emotions and our emotions create our actions and inactions.
  4. Who are your role models and why. Identify their strengths and see if they align with yours.
  5. Accept compliments – when you receive compliments, look the person in the face and thank them.
  6. Practice your positive affirmations throughout the day, say them out loud, embrace them.
  7. Meditation or listening to meditation music, finding time for you to just centre yourself.
  8. Challenge your inner critics – our inner critic identifies and highlights the negative aspects of the things we do. Remember I said about the voice in your mind narrating your life, sack them and replace them with a positive, upbeat narrator.
  9. Know who you are and what you want, a great deal of stress and disappointment is caused by competing and comparing yourself with others. Create a list of your purpose, vision of the life you wish to create, your goals.
  10. Enjoy positive relationships, eliminate negative relationships.

How to maintain your self-esteem

If you want to successfully pursue your goals and develop the required motivation, it is imperative that you maintain high self-esteem. High self-esteem will help you enjoy a more successful and enjoyable life. You will start to believe in their own abilities and become more resilient in the face of adversity.

When tough times occur, self-esteem is one of the critical factors in determining your ability to overcome them. There are many ways in which you can work on your self- esteem, practicing the 10 tips listed previously will be of genuine benefit towards helping you on the path towards increasing your self-esteem.

Having healthy self-esteem can change the way you experience life and the direction you choose to take it. When you have a good relationship with yourself, you’ll tend to be better able to handle stress and even avoid the unhealthy side-effects of stress. You may find building strong relationships easier and feel able to leave unhealthy ones.

Understanding your true value helps you develop emotional resilience. This means when you’re met with obstacles, disappointment or even failures, you’ll be able to bounce back quicker.

Your confidence is also likely to improve alongside your self-belief. You’ll feel happier to take more psychological risks (like starting a new career) and go after what you really want in life. If you feel your self-esteem is currently low, the good news is that with self-work and intention, it can be built up. Many people find it helpful to get support during this process.

Here are some signs that you are developing a healthy self-esteem

  • You start to feel confident
  • You feel able to say no when you need to
  • Negative experiences don’t impact your view of yourself
  • You feel able to ask for what you need
  • You accept compliments and believe them
  • You value yourself and your contributions

The difference between self-esteem and confidence

Self-esteem and confidence often get confused, and while they do overlap, there are differences. Confidence relates to our trust in our abilities to cope with challenges and “engage successfully with the world” (Burton, 2015). Confidence tends to be based more so on external factors. For example, we can generally build confidence when we succeed at a task. Self-esteem is more internally-based and, when we struggle with our self-esteem, succeeding doesn’t always help us feel better about ourselves.

Confidence is a belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities externally. When people are asked to describe who they are, say in work for instance, they feel some kind of power and importance which appears to be driven by the abilities or knowledge they have obtained through training and learning and this empowers them to be ‘somebody of value’.

Self-esteem is the value you place on yourself from a stand-alone view, internally. When people are asked to describe who they are from a stand-alone, internal point of view most tend to talk about their negative aspects which in turn appears to make them devalue who they really are.

Negative belief systems: Irrational, damaging or limiting

Your personal belief system is made up of all the previous knowledge, experience and precepts that govern your thoughts, words, behaviours and actions. The current beliefs you possess have developed from an early age, many of which have been acquired through the teachings and learnings obtained from parents, teachers, other authority figures and our personal experiences. Having strong beliefs gives us a sense of why we exist and where we are going in life. Our belief system underpins our life purpose and influences our thoughts, values and behaviours. Many examples have been documented where people have risen above extreme adversity and suffering on the strength of their beliefs. For many people their personal beliefs have been barriers to personal development and creating the life they desire.

These beliefs are called irrational, damagingor limiting, beliefs and have been acquired through life predominantly at a young age, for example, we may have been told by our teachers or parents that we will not amount to anything in the future or that we are not good enough to succeed.

Examples of negative beliefs

About Yourself:

  • I do not deserve positive attention from others.
  • I should never burden others with my problems or fears.
  • I am useless.
  • I am uncreative, non-productive, ineffective, and untalented.
  • I am worthless.
  • I am the worst example on earth of a person.
  • I am powerless to solve my problems.
  • I have so many problems, I might as well give up right now.
  • I am so dumb about thing’s, I can never solve anything as complex as this.
  • I am the ugliest or the most unattractive or the most unappealing or over weight person in the world.

Negative beliefs about others:

  • No one cares about anyone else.
  • All men (or women) are dishonest and are never to be trusted.
  • Successful relationships are a trick; you have no control over how they turn out.
  • People are out to get whatever they can from you; you always end up being used.
  • People are so opinionated; they are never willing to listen to other’s points of view.
  • You are bound to get hurt in a relationship; it makes no difference how you try to change it.
  • There is a loser in every fight, so avoid fights at all costs.
  • All people are out for #1; you need to know you’ll always be #2, no matter what.
  • It’s not who you are but what you do that makes you attractive to another person.
  • What counts in life is others’ opinions of you.
  • There is a need to be on guard in dealing with others to ensure that you don’t get hurt.

Negative beliefs on other topics:

  • There is only one way of doing things.
  • Work is the punishment man must endure for being human.
  • A family that plays (prays) together always stays together.
  • Always protecting against the forces of evil in life is the only way to live.
  • There are always two choices: right or wrong; black or white; win or lose; pass or fail; grow or stagnate.
  • Once you are married and have children, you join the normal human race.
  • Admitting to a mistake or to failure is a sign of weakness.
  • The showing of any kind of emotion is wrong, a sign of weakness, and not allowable.
  • Asking for help from someone else is a way of admitting your weakness; it denies the reality that only you can solve your problems.

Belief systems: Identification

  • Negative beliefs are often so much a part of us that we don’t even realise they’re there
  • In fact, asking someone what their limiting beliefs are could be likened to the metaphor of asking a fish for a glass of water: It’s so much a part of them that they don’t see it
  • When people are stuck, when they have a goal and are not making progress or when they are keen, they know what the next step is but avoid or won’t commit to it – it’s often a limiting belief at work

Question the limiting belief or assumption

  • Was it true once – another time?
  • If it was true once, how did it serve you to hold this belief?
  • Is it true now? What evidence do you have?
  • If you absolutely knew that this was not true what would you do differently?
  • If it is not true, what is true in this context?  Find some new words to re-phrase this belief so that it is more empowering.
  • If another person was instrumental in setting up this belief for you – is this a person you respect and trust? What was their intention in the first place?  Look at the original situation with fresh eyes.
  • If this was something that originated in your childhood – What resources were available to you as a child or young person back then?  What resources are available to the adult you now?
  • Is there one stress-free reason to keep this belief?
  • What is the pay-off to you holding on to this belief?

Techniques or approaches to challenge and change the belief

  • Encourage change of perspective – what would the adult you say to that child? What would your best friend say to you about this?
  • Use logic and reasoning
  • Keep chipping away at it! Use every opportunity to challenge the belief
  • Task yourself to behave differently and test out your physiological and emotional response to a new belief and behaviours
  • Ask yourself to gather your opinions of people they really trust and respect about this negative belief
  • Ask yourself, what they have you done over time to perpetuate the limiting belief – what have you said and done which has kept it alive?
  • Ask yourself to generate some new things to say and do which will perpetuate a more empowering belief