Understanding Self-Esteem

How Low Self-Esteem Develops

Usually the negative evaluations we have about ourselves originated through negative life experiences. For example, our experience in childhood, our parents, our peers, our school, society, adult trauma etc. have influenced our thought patterns and core beliefs about ourselves. Often, we have experienced a variety of negative experiences that have influenced us, including:

  • Difficulty in meeting parents’ or peers standards
  • Physical abuse, neglect, abandonment or emotional abuse
  • Not fitting in at home or school
  • Being on the receiving end of others’ emotional damage
  • Your perceived social status
  • Not experiencing or accepting positive traits

As a result of our negative life experiences, we develop negative core beliefs. These beliefs are at the core of our cognitive functioning, and they are the conclusions we have drawn based on our life experiences. For example, a child who only received praise by their parents when they got an A+ in school, may develop the core belief “Unless I produce perfectly, I will not be accepted.” Most likely, this child will grow up believing that they will only be accepted amongst their peers, relationships, bosses etc. if they are perfect at what they do. These negative core beliefs become ingrained and begin influencing our self perception, worth and value. Likely, the negative core beliefs become “I am” statements. In the example above, the child may develop into an adult that believes “I am not good enough”. A major part of the self-esteem course is overriding these negative core beliefs.

When the negative core beliefs become ingrained, it makes sense that we naturally feel down about ourselves. However, to protect ourselves from these negative feelings, we develop Rules and Assumptions for how we operate and live our life. These Rules and Assumptions are the brain’s way to protect ourselves from the truth, to maintain functioning. For example, someone who feels “worthless” may develop Rules like “I must make other people happy” or “I must never try a new activity because I could fail”. Your mind creates these Rules so that as long as you satisfy them, you won’t feel “worthless”. Likewise, Assumptions can develop such as “Only if I make other people laugh, will they like me”.

As a result of your Rules and Assumptions, your behavoiur will be guided and will determine how you approach your day-to-day life. For example, the adult above who has the rule “I can’t try a new activity because I could fail.”, will never try new activities that they may enjoy. Instead, they will avoid and isolate as a means to protect themselves from the feeling of being “worthless”. Likewise, you may begin trying to do everything perfectly, either with work, school or friends, as a way to ensure that you won’t feel “worthless”.

As long as you satisfy your Rules and Assumptions, your self-esteem remains dormant. From the example above regarding feeling “worthless”. If you avoid activities, aim for perfection in everything you do, and please others, you will avoid the “worthless” feeling. However, this puts yourself under tremendous pressure. This will often develop into stressful or anxious states as you manage your day-to-day life around your Rules and Assumptions. The Self-Esteem course will help you change your negative score beliefs, unhelpful Rules and Assumptions and behaviours.

Impacts of Low Self-Esteem

If you have low self-esteem, you most likely have a negative evaluation of yourself. You may criticize your actions, thoughts, behaviours in a negative way, and be harder on yourself than necessary. You may joke about yourself negatively or share the negative aspects of yourself with others. You may put yourself down, blame yourself, take responsibility for things out of your control, or doubt yourself.

Often people with low self-esteem can be shy or self-conscious, and may avoid social or intimate contacts. They can become irritated or stressed from any criticism or disapproval and may feel the need to constantly please others. Likewise, they may avoid conflict and refrain from standing up for themselves when facing criticism, bullying, or abuse.

Those with low self-esteem often experience negative emotions like anxiety, sadness, guilt, depression, shame, frustration or anger. These can often spiral and become so common in your everyday demeanor that they have a negative effect on your day-to-day functioning.

If you have low self-esteem, you most likely won’t accomplish what you are capable of because you don’t believe that you have the capacity to do so. The negative self-evaluations will limit your ability to accomplish a task or create a new initiative as a way to avoid facing mistakes or failures.

If you have low self-esteem, you may find yourself avoiding tasks/activities as a way ensure you don’t experience judgment from yourself or others. This may include sports, dancing, social media, or art. Likewise, it’s possible that you may avoid activities altogether because you do not believe you belong, or that you don’t deserve any pleasure or fun.

People with low self-esteem can find themselves consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, weed, or other drugs. They may not take care of themselves, dress poorly, or not bother to put effort in their appearance. Likewise, they may attempt to present themselves in the utmost perfect light through posting on social media, excessive makeup, or attempting appearance perfection.

Often people with low self-esteem ignore the positive traits that they have. You may not speak up when you feel you can contribute to a conversation or a project. Or when compliments are given to you, you often dismiss them as “not a big deal”. Instead, you focus on what went wrong, or what you could have done better.

The Course

The SolutionFirst Self-Esteem & Confidence course is not about portraying confidence or self-esteem. (We’re not teaching you to “fake” it). The course is designed to dig deeper into your current functioning. We want to find the root of the issue, and replace it with a more effective solution. The goal of the course is to help you understand the negative core beliefs and thought patterns that are causing the undesirable emotions and behaviours. Then, we provide an action plan to create more effective thought patterns and core beliefs, with the intent to develop a healthy self-esteem.