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The magic of self-esteem

There are many articles, books, seminars, etc. on self-esteem that we should, in theory, have no problem understanding the concept. Yet, it is estimated that about 85% of the population suffer from a low level of self-esteem. Many can’t even define what self-esteem is.

In this blog post, I provide information about what self-esteem is, how it manifests, what the potential root causes are, and what one can do to deal with it.

Self-esteem is a manifestation of self-defeating opinions we have about ourselves. In other words - it is the value we attach to ourselves as people.

We need to recognise the importance of self-esteem as it impacts many areas of our lives:

  • Job

  • Relationships

  • Money mindset

  • Selfcare

  • Relationship with your body, etc.

How do I know if I have low self-esteem?

Below are some clues that can help you identify the low self-esteem issues:

  • Feeling weak, inadequate, inferior or lacking in some ways

  • Troubled by uncertainty and self-doubt

  • Carrying unkind and overly critical thoughts about yourself

  • Difficulty in feeling worthy

  • Difficulty in enjoying good things in life, no matter how small

To break this down even further, let’s consider the following:


  • Self-criticism

  • Self-blame

  • Self-doubt

  • Discounting positives and focusing on weaknesses and flaws


  • Difficulty in asserting needs or speaking out

  • An apologetic stance

  • Avoidance of challenges and opportunities

  • Also, posture, downturned head, avoidance of eye contact, hushed voice and hesitancy


  • E.g. sadness, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, frustration and anger


  • Uncomfortable body sensations like fatigue, aches and pains, low energy or tension

Many times low self-esteem started at some point in our childhood…

Experiences Contributing to Low Self-esteem


Exercise no. 1: Sit down, perhaps take a pen and write down the thoughts that come to mind. Breathe and close your eyes. Think about your view of yourself and experiences that may have contributed to your self-esteem. It could be while you were growing up but it could also be later in life. What do you think your Bottom Line is? What do you say to yourself when you are self-critical? What kind of words did people, parents, teachers, etc., use towards you whenever they feel disappointed with, or let down by, you?

The intention of the above exercise is to help you realise that many of your self-doubting thoughts are coming from singular situations that could have been quite traumatic for you. Maybe as a child, you did not do well with school tests, and as an adult, you now think of yourself as stupid and incapable?

By getting into the Bottom Line of your self-esteem you can understand how you manifest that through a range of behaviours. You will try to fill in the void by creating ‘Rules for Living’, examples of which are provided below.

Bottom Line Rules for Living

I am not good enough I need to get everything right in order to get anywhere in life

I am not acceptable I must always keep myself under control

I am unlovable I must do everything that people expect of

me so I don’t get rejected

I am stupid Better not to try than fail

This type of thinking is called biases as it is rooted in our unconscious mind. It makes you anxious and unhappy, restricts your life and moreover, prevents you from searching out a kinder, more compassionate, more balanced, accepting and accurate view of the person you really are.

Where to start with the change?

One of my most favourite authors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, said and I quote “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. A quite simple way to challenge your negative thoughts about yourself is to make positive affirmations. You can gather the list of your thoughts, beliefs and ideas that might limit your success and happiness. Below are some examples that can help you with that:

Negative affirmation to replace with Positive affirmation

I am useless ---->. I am good enough

I always mess up ----->. I do the best I can

I can’t say no ------> I can express my feelings

Another way that I find very helpful is to analyse your unhelpful thoughts and come up with alternative helpful thoughts (the template below).

SELF-Esteem working sheet
Download PDF • 28KB

What can help you in challenging times

Throughout the most challenging times, it is really hard to keep positive self-esteem. To get an instant boost of self-esteem in hard circumstances you can write a letter to yourself. Include what you are going through right now and how it impacted you mentally (especially note your negative thoughts). Write down the situation from your experience when it was tough. How did you overcome the setbacks? What helped you in that - what your personal qualities, activities, mindset. Having that written down will help you understand that you are in fact a strong person and you can overcome setbacks without taking things personally.

In a simple way - BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

Do not be harsh on yourself but treat yourself as a best friend. This simple but effective tactic will help you to look at yourself with compassion and have more understanding of what others can go through.

I hope this article was helpful in giving you ideas of how to work with the negative mind-chatter.

Additionally, you can find a recording of me talking about self-esteem with Rachel O’Boyle on IGTV (check Rachel’s profile - @rachel.oboyle; you can also follow my IG account @sylwia_glowa for motivation and daily tips).

If you would like to find out more about self-esteem here are some books suggestions for you:

  • Overcoming Low Self-Esteem (A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques) by Melanie Fennell

  • Beat Low Self-Esteem With CBT : How to improve your confidence, self esteem and motivation by Christine Wilding and Stephen Palmer

  • The Self-Esteem Coach by Linda Field

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