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Self-esteem (or self-image or self-concept) is how a person thinks about themself. Our beliefs about our attributes, our capabilities, our worth, who we are as people and what we contribute to our world all make up our self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a predictor of our mental health and overall sense of well-being. People with higher self-esteem generally feel better about themselves and therefore more satisfied overall. Having a high self-esteem also makes it easier to bounce back from the bumps life inevitably brings.

Self-esteem is rarely consistent across all aspects of an individual. A person could have a generally positive self-image when it comes to social relationships but a negative self-image in the area of body image. Or an individual may feel confident about their intelligence but suffer from low self-esteem in romantic relationships.

Those who grew up in a home where they were treated with respect and kindness rather than criticized and humiliated are likely to have higher self-esteem. Those who have been treated with more respect and kindness by the culture at large (i.e. people who are of higher socioeconomic status, able-bodied, gender conforming, etc) receive messages that can contribute to higher self-esteem.

However, despite any advantages a person has been given, all humans have an internal monologue that constantly evaluates our every thought, word, and behavior. This voice is naturally critical, as it is designed to keep us in line socially and protect us from isolation. People with higher self-esteem can more easily tune out this unkind judge. They can give themselves a break when they make a mistake or forgive themselves for their limitations or bad habits. On the other hand, a person with low self-esteem may fully believe their inner critic without ever considering a different point of view – like recognizing that we are only human, we all make mistakes, we can’t please all the people all the time, and we can always do better next time.

If you struggle with low self-esteem, it is important to know that this can improve! You can become a friend and advocate for yourself rather than your own worst enemy.

Therapists Who Specialize in Self Esteem

Valarie Smith | LCSW
Valarie Smith
Nyambura Kihato | LPC
Nyambura Kihato
Molly Keeton Parnell | Ph.D.
Molly Keeton Parnell
Melissa Kulick | Ph.D.
Melissa Kulick
Lisa Anyan Smith | Ph.D.
Lisa Anyan Smith
Hunter Sandifer | LPC
Hunter Sandifer
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