Self-esteem is often defined as the degree to which an individual feels confident, valuable, and worthy of respect. Many things in life can influence an individual’s self-esteem such as their own thoughts and perceptions, how others view them, their appearance, upbringing, work, and other life circumstances. One’s self-esteem is not a fixed characteristic and can vary at different periods in life. When one’s self-esteem lies on the low end of the spectrum their entire world, including their mental health, is affected. Developing healthy self-esteem can help individuals maintain a more balanced, authentic, and positive view of themselves.

What Does Healthy Self-Esteem Look Like?

When an individual has healthy self-esteem, they feel good about themselves and feel deserving of respect from others. They often take pride in their accomplishments and have a realistic view of themselves as well as their imperfections. Below are a few characteristics that are commonly seen in an individual who has healthy self-esteem.

  • High self-confidence
  • Recognize and understand their emotions
  • Take accountability
  • Resilient to stress and setbacks
  • Assertive in expressing needs and opinions
  • Believe in their ability to make decisions
  • Communicate openly without fear of rejection or judgment

Signs of Low Self-Esteem:

While low self-esteem is not depicted as its own diagnosis in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), the effects of low self-esteem are very real. When one has low self-esteem there is little value put on their thoughts and opinions and they may tend to focus on their weaknesses or faults. These negative thoughts and beliefs can lead to mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. Below are some of the most common signs of low self-esteem.

  • Judge themselves and others harshly
  • Low self-confidence
  • Absence of assertiveness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Spotlighting negativity
  • Sensitive to depression or anxiety
  • Intolerant of criticism

Since self-esteem is measured on a spectrum, low self-esteem may look different on any given person. Some may show all the signs listed above while others may only have a few. It is important to recognize the signs so the proper support and guidance can be given to improve one’s self-esteem.

Ways to Develop Healthier Self-Esteem in Therapy:

  • Become mindful of negative self-talk and criticism
  • Forgive self and others
  • Practice not comparing yourself to others
  • Set expectations and goals that are realistic and attainable
  • Spotlight positivity in your life
  • Stand up for yourself

While some of these strategies sound simple, it takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve healthy self-esteem. It takes practice and patience to change one’s mindset and automatic way of thinking. If you are currently struggling with low self-esteem and would like some guidance, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. To learn more about self-esteem development therapy, contact Symmetry Counseling today!