document.documentElement.className = 'js'; Low Self Esteem: Causes, Consequences and Solutions : A & U Ng
Low self-esteem is having a generally negative overall opinion of oneself, judging or evaluating oneself negatively, and placing a general negative value on oneself as a person. People with low self-esteem usually have deep-seated, basic, negative beliefs about themselves and the kind of person they are. These beliefs are often taken as facts or truths about their identity, rather than being recognized as opinions they hold about themselves.

Table of Contents

> Introduction
> What Is Self-Esteem
> What Is Low Self-Esteem
> Signs of Low Self-Esteem
> Signs of High Self-Esteem
> Causes of Low Self-Esteem
> The Consequences of Low Self-Esteem
> How to Overcome Self-Esteem
> Conclusion


Have you ever felt inadequate amongst your peers? Perhaps, they are richer, more intelligent, more beautiful, got higher scores or more influential – and so you may feel you are not up to their standard. Well, such feeling is what we refer to as low self esteem or inferiority complex when it has subconsciously become a baheviour. In a world that is replete with “showy display” of personal lifestyle, it is possible for students to feel this inferiority complex if they are not well protected from the perception of society at large. The fact remains that it is not possible to have all to yourself, hence, it is imperative to be satisfied with little especially what you can afford before low self-esteem creeps in.

What Is Self-Esteem

The term self-esteem has been generally defined as what an individual feels about himself. Self –esteem had been dichotomized into three broad definitions namely: Global self-esteem: meaning what an individual feels about himself. Self evaluation: meaning the way people evaluate their various abilities and attributes, and Feelings of self-worth: meaning a state of momentary emotion, particularly those that arise from a positive or negative outcome. On average, people measure their self esteem in relation to their life attainment. Others also measure self-esteem by what a person do or says about himself.

Self-esteem is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that implies that you accept, respect, and believe in yourself. When you accept yourself, you are okay with both the good and bad things about yourself. When you respect yourself, you treat yourself well in much the same way you would treat someone else you respect. To believe in yourself means that you feel you deserve to have the good things in life. It also means that you have confidence that you can make choices and take actions that will have a positive effect on your life.

Part of self-esteem is knowing that you are important enough to take good care of yourself by making good choices for yourself. For example, choosing nutritious food for your body, exercising, giving yourself time to relax, etc. Self-esteem doesn’t mean you think you are better or more important than other people are, it means that you respect and value yourself as much as other people. Self-esteem needs to come from within and not be dependent on external sources such as material possessions, your status, or approval from others. Having self-esteem also means you don’t have to put other people down to feel good about yourself.

What Is Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is having a generally negative overall opinion of oneself, judging or evaluating oneself negatively, and placing a general negative value on oneself as a person. People with low self-esteem usually have deep-seated, basic, negative beliefs about themselves and the kind of person they are. These beliefs are often taken as facts or truths about their identity, rather than being recognized as opinions they hold about themselves.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

  1. Lack of confidence
  2. Negative view of life
  3. Perfectionistic attitude
  4. Mistrusting others inappropriately
  5. Blaming behavior
  6. Fear of taking appropriate risks
  7. Feelings of being unloved and unlovable
  8. Dependence on others to make decisions
  9. Fear of being ridiculed
  10. Distorted view of self and others

Signs of High Self-Esteem

  1. Confidence
  2. Self-direction
  3. Non-blaming behavior
  4. Awareness of personal strengths
  5. Ability to make mistakes and learn from them
  6. Ability to accept mistakes from others
  7. Optimism
  8. Ability to solve problems
  9. Independent and cooperative attitude
  10. Feeling comfortable with a wide range of emotions
  11. Ability to appropriately trust others
  12. Good sense of personal limitations
  13. Ability to set boundaries and say no
  14. Good self-care

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

  1. Nobody is born with low self-esteem; it’s something that is learned. It is the result of filtering opinions, comments, looks, suggestions, and actions of those around us through a person’s own feelings and self image.
  2. Some possible early causes of low self-esteem are: –
  3. Overly critical parents (never good enough, feelings of inferiority or self criticism)
  4. Significant childhood losses (abandonment, insecurity)
  5. Parental abuse, alcoholism, neglect, or rejection (unreliable family atmosphere resulting in lack of trust, insecurity, inadequacy or worthlessness, anger, guilt, denying feelings)
  6. Parental over-protectiveness (lack of confidence)
  7. Parental over-indulgence (feelings of being cheated and insecure because life does not continue to provide what they learned to expect as a child)
  8. Some possible later contributors to low self-esteem are: –
  9. Negative or controlling personal relationships
  10. Negative experiences on the job
  11. Messages from society

The Consequences of Low Self-Esteem

Depression: A person with low self-esteem is often depressed. What will people say about me? How can I meet up? What will I say? Won’t he be angry? They often worry about many things that they cannot solve in the immediate time. All these worries easily lead to depression.

Poor Academic Performance: While very possible, it is often difficult for someone with low self-esteem to perform optimally in school. He/she feels worthless amongst others he/she feels are doing well.

Frequent Self-Criticism: A person with low self-esteem probably says a lot of negative things about themselves. They might criticize themselves, their actions, and abilities or joke about themselves in a very negative way. They might put themselves down, doubt themselves, or blame themselves when things go wrong.

Ignoring Positive Qualities: When compliments are given to them, they might brush such comments aside or say that “it was all luck” or “it wasn’t that big a deal.” Instead, they might focus on what they didn’t do or the mistakes they made.

Negative Emotions: A person with low self-esteem might often feel sad, depressed, anxious, guilty, ashamed, frustrated, and angry.

Impact on Work/Study: A person with low self esteem might consistently achieve less than they are able to because they believe they are less capable than others. They might avoid challenges & opportunities for fear of not doing well. They might work extremely hard and push themselves to do more because they believe they need to make up for, or cover up, their lack of skill. They might find it hard to believe any good results they get are due to their own abilities or positive qualities.

Relationship Problems: In their personal relationships, people with low self-esteem might become upset or distressed by any criticism or disapproval, bend over backwards to please others, be extremely shy or self-consciousness or even avoid or withdraw from intimacy or social contact. They might also be less likely to stand up for themselves or protect themselves from being bullied, criticised, or abused by partners or family. On the other hand they can be overly aggressive in their interactions with others.

Recreation and Leisure: People with low self-esteem might not engage in many leisure or recreational activities, as they might believe that they do not deserve any pleasure or fun. They might also avoid activities where they could be judged or evaluated in some way, such as competitive sports, dancing, art/craft classes or participating in any type of competition or exhibition.

Personal Self-Care: People who do not value themselves might drink excessive amounts of alcohol or abuse drugs. They might not bother to dress neatly, wear clean clothes, style their hair or buy new clothes. On the other hand, they might try to hide any inadequacies by not allowing themselves to be seen by others unless they look absolutely perfect.

How to Overcome Self-Esteem

  1. Surround Yourself with the Right People
  2. Get to Know Yourself/Become Your Own Best Friend
  3. Acknowledge Where You Need Change
  4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
  5. Repeat Positive Affirmations
  6. Take Care of Yourself
  7. Give Back
  8. Challenge bad thoughts about yourself
  9. Take care of yourself
  10. Be sure to relax
  11. Set goals for yourself
  12. Help somebody else out
  13. Take a different perspective
  14. Try new things
  15. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
  16. Accept yourself
  17. Keep visual reminders of things that make you feel good

Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem


It is important to know that low self esteem is a common problem for many people in our society – so you are not alone. Low self-esteem can occur as part of a current problem (such as depression), or as a result of other problems (such as chronic illness, relationship problems) or it can be a problem in itself. Either way, the good news is that you can take steps towards developing more healthy self-esteem.

Even if low self-esteem had its roots in childhood, you can learn to identify and challenge the assumptions you consciously or unconsciously have about yourself. – Take notice of and become more consciously aware of your needs. – Acknowledge the importance of self-nurturing and self-care activities and take appropriate steps in that direction. – Recognize and take pride in your accomplishments.- Focus on problem solving. Everyone is different. Learn to be satisfied with who you are. Don’t wish you were someone else. Instead be the best you can be.