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Self esteem

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Self esteem

Self esteem is how valuable or worthwhile you see yourself. If you have healthy self esteem you are likely to feel liked and accepted, proud of what you have achieved and believe in yourself. If you have low self-esteem you are likely to have a very low opinion of yourself, not attach much value to yourself, you may be quite tough on yourself and think you are not good enough.

The way we view ourselves can have a profound effect on how we live our lives and low self esteem can cause great unhappiness. Self esteem can feel conditional and linked to our achievements, and or acceptance of others and so it can go up and down depending what is going on in your life and according to your mood.

Low self esteem can affect you in a number of ways:

  • Your thoughts- self-critical, self-blaming or full of self-doubt.
  • Your behaviour- you find it difficult to speak up and spend too much time trying to please others. You can hide the true you and potentially overperform.
  • Your feelings- sad, worried, guilty, ashamed, frustrated or angry.
  • Your body- feeling drained, tired, tense and uptight. You may avoid eye contact and keep your head down with hunched shoulders.

There are many causes of low self esteem. Here are a few examples:

  • Unhappy childhood due to negative experiences. For example, trauma, abuse, neglect or being judged negatively by parents, teachers, siblings and peers.
  • Unhappy about academic performance resulting in a lack of confidence.
  • Ongoing stressful life events such as relationship difficulties or financial problems.
  • Ongoing physical or mental health problems.

Note: we hope that the resources below are useful, but we do not endorse the opinions expressed by other parties.


Self-help materials you can print, or download and save.

Resource Description
Looking after your self esteem workbook A range of downloadable worksheets and books to help with your self-esteem.
Self-esteem self-help handout Easy to read handout explaining self-esteem and offering some tips to change things.
Addressing self-criticism (podcast) Talking you through exercises to reduce and manage self-critical thoughts.
Self-compassion exercises Provides information, exercises, and downloadable guided meditations to help you build self-compassion.

Places to get help

Resource Description
Self esteem (Mind Website) Information on self-esteem, tips on how to manage it, links to blogs and videos

Blogs and articles

Resource Description
Self esteem and male body image Information on self esteem and male body image, links to eating disorder organisations.
The impact of social media and self esteem Short article looking at the impact of social media on self esteem.
Building self esteem Article suggesting use of the 5 ways to wellbeing as a way of building self-esteem.

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