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Image by Francesca Zama

Low Self-esteem

Self-esteem is how we think about ourselves and in CBT terms, how we think dictates how it is that we feel. Low Self-esteem is caused and characterised by various negative thoughts, such as:

  • Generally believing you are to blame

  • Minimising your positive qualities and magnifying areas where you feel you fall short

  • Thinking that you don't deserve to be happy

  • Believing that generally others are better or more deserving than you 

  • Thinking you are wrong to spend money or time on yourself

  • Second-guessing all of your decisions

  • Thinking that no one really likes you or could love you

Low self-esteem is that critical voice inside your head that brings your mood down or creates anxiety to which we typically respond to with some the following behaviours:

  • Always apologising

  • Always putting others needs or wants before yours (People-pleasing)

  • Being indecisive

  • Rejecting compliments

  • Avoiding or enduring with discomfort the attention of others

  • Avoiding spending time or money on yourself

  • Rejecting relationships or frequently checking to see if your partner is cheating

What is Self-esteem?

CBT for low self-esteem

Lets look at some of the consequences of the above behaviours.

Rejecting compliments means that any opinions about you from others that are positive are pushed away to have no effect on how you may view yourself. Do you do the same with negative comments / criticism? It is likely that criticism from others is taken in, magnified and interpreted as the truth about you rather than one person's opinion. Is this a fair way to deal with the evidence? CBT is not positive psychology but fair analysis, we need to take all the evidence in before we make any judgements - what might happen to how we viewed ourselves if we trialled accepting compliments?

What about constantly apologising? If we constantly apologise we will always believe we were to blame, we will analyse the past and see that everything was our fault or so the ultimate outcome of the disagreement would lead us to believe. If everything is always your fault then that will only serve to fuel the negative beliefs. What if we trial apologising only for what we are genuinely at fault for and recognising that in many cases blame lies in more than one camp - it may also be helpful to recognise that the blame game rarely helps anyone involved.

So CBT will work on your behaviours but to ask someone to just change how they behave is a pretty ridiculous concept if they genuinely believe how they currently act is in their best interest. So CBT will identify patterns of behaviour and highlight the dysfunctional nature of these but it will also seek why we engage in these behaviours in the first place.

We will discuss childhood to understand where the negative opinion of yourself perhaps first developed and then we will discuss the beliefs developed out of childhood logic that we still act off of today. We will learn about the situations that trigger the negative thinking patterns and CBT will teach  you how to identify when we are engaging in thinking errors or cognitive distortions and ask you to go and gather all the evidence. Does the evidence actually back up what you think. We we can get good at spotting our irrational thoughts we can restructure and learn to behave differently, in time we will feel differently too.      

CBT is very effective in working with the patterns found in Low Self-esteem and the work can be very rewarding. If you would like to get in touch to make an assessment appointment to find out more and see if CBT could benefit you - please get in touch. 

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