top of page

William Macaulay Counselling Perth

Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Perth WA

Phone 0401 316 977

for enquiries or appointments

Counselling for Low Self-Esteem

A beautiful flower in a calm pond

Do you find yourself constantly battling negative thoughts about yourself? Are you your own harshest critic? Comparing yourself unfavourably to others and feeling unworthy? Living with low self-esteem can be distressing and make life incredibly challenging. It not only affects how you see yourself but also impacts your relationships with others. Counselling for low self-esteem identifies root causes and supports the development of a positive, confident self-image.


What is self-esteem?


Self-esteem refers to how you view and think about yourself and the value you place on yourself as a person.​ Put simply, it can be described as a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards yourself. Think of it as a sort of measurement of how much you value, approve of, appreciate or like yourself.


Why is self-esteem important?


Everyone experiences the odd occasion when they feel negative about themself or find it hard to believe in themself. However, if this is how you feel most of the time, this may indicate that you are experiencing low self-esteem. Low self-esteem can lead to relationship problems and adverse mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, social phobia, substance abuse and even thoughts of self-harm. The good news is that with the right support, it's possible to overcome these struggles.


Differentiating Self-Esteem from Self-Confidence


Self-esteem refers to your internal opinion of yourself, and self-confidence relates to your external abilities in particular areas of life. Therefore, you can have high self-confidence, particularly in a specific area or field, but still lack a healthy sense of overall self-esteem. For example, you could be very self-confident and good at playing hockey but view yourself as worthless, unlikable or unattractive, indicating low self-esteem.


What does healthy self-esteem look like?


Typical signs and characteristics of healthy self-esteem:


Internal Factors:

  • Viewing yourself and your worth in a balanced way by embracing your strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging that we all have them.

  • Recognising and celebrating accomplishments and positive qualities.

  • Accepting your imperfections that are beyond your control and cannot be changed and deciding whether you want to improve any aspects that can be changed.

  • Realising that occasionally, you will view yourself negatively.

  • Believing you are equal to others, no better and no worse.


External Factors:

  • Possessing the ability to express your needs assertively.

  • Having the ability to say no to others.

  • Having a positive outlook on life.

  • Being comfortable with giving and receiving compliments.

  • Being open to criticism.

  • Rejecting the attempts of others to manipulate you.

What does low self-esteem look like?


Typical signs and characteristics of low self-esteem:


Internal Factors:

  • Maintaining a predominantly negative opinion of yourself.

  • Habitually engaging in self-criticism.

  • Consistently undervaluing or neglecting your positive attributes while fixating on your weaknesses.

  • Struggling to accept compliments or positive feedback.

  • Frequently experiencing negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, guilt, shame, worthlessness, frustration, and anger.

  • Blaming yourself when things go wrong.

  • Believing others are better than you.

  • Struggling with an intense fear of failure.

  • Battling with self-confidence issues.

  • Feeling that your opinions are not important.

  • Doubting your every decision.


External Factors:

  • Avoiding challenges and opportunities for fear of not doing well.

  • Becoming easily upset or distressed by criticism or disapproval from others.

  • Putting other people's needs before your own.

  • Experiencing extreme shyness or self-consciousness in social situations.

  • Struggling to stand up for yourself and protect against bullying, criticism, or abuse from others.

  • Engaging in unhealthy coping behaviours like excessive alcohol consumption or drug misuse due to low self-esteem.

  • Showing disinterest in your appearance and personal care.

  • Having a negative outlook on life.

  • Feeling that the world is an unsafe place.


What causes low self-esteem?


Low self-esteem is often shaped by past experiences, especially during childhood. It may be linked to family dynamics, peer interactions, societal pressures, and various stressors. Some examples include:

  • Enduring excessive punishment, neglect or abuse.

  • Receiving overly critical or negative assessments from family and friends.

  • Struggling to meet parental expectations.

  • Feeling like you don't fit in at home or school.

  • Facing challenges in meeting the standards set by your peer group.

  • Being exposed to the stress and distress of others.

  • The socioeconomic status of your family.

  • An absence of compliments and affirmations in your life.

  • Belonging to a minority group and experiencing discrimination, oppression, racism or exclusion.

It's important to recognise that these experiences are a result of the behaviours and opinions of others, not inherent truths about who you are as a person.


Moreover, negative experiences as an adult, such as abuse, prolonged stress, loneliness, social isolation, trauma, and poor health, can also significantly impact our beliefs about ourselves.


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for Self-esteem


Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a highly effective psychological approach that focuses on helping you recognise how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour. It involves working with a trained therapist to help you identify unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours and learn healthier and more effective tools to boost your self-esteem.


Counselling & Support for Low Self-esteem


If you are concerned about any aspect of your self-esteem or would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact me to arrange an appointment. Talking to a therapist can help you understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and explore which of your current thoughts, beliefs and behaviours maintain it. I offer CBT counselling and a range of practical tools and techniques that will help boost your self-esteem. Remember, healthy self-esteem is not just something other people have. It is attainable for us all. Start your journey towards positive self-worth by seeking help today.

William Macaulay Counselling Perth Logo
What Is Self-esteem
Causes of low self-esteem
CBT for low self-esteem
Healthy Self-Esteem
Low Self-Esteem
bottom of page