Counselling for Self-Esteem & Confidence
Helping You to Overcome Poor Self-Esteem
What is Self-Esteem?
The most important relationship you have in your life is with yourself. If you’re not happy with yourself then you won’t be happy in your day-to-day life or in your relationships with other people. If you think badly of yourself then you'll allow others to think badly of you and to treat you without respect. You'll also worry too much about what others think about you and how they are judging you. It is this relationship with yourself which is fundamental to what is meant by self-esteem.
Self-esteem refers to your sense of self-worth, the feelings and beliefs you have about yourself. Poor self-esteem might manifest in a lack of confidence, a sense of not being good enough or of not fitting in. It can contribute to feelings of anxiety and at its worst can result in extreme forms of self-criticism and self-hatred.
The Origins of Poor Self-Esteem
A sense of never being good enough can be deeply ingrained and often derives from childhood. This is when feelings of self-worth, of being valued and of being a person who is loved are embedded by those involved in our upbringing. These people can include parents, grandparents, teachers and other authority figures.
Self-esteem is also affected by the wider circumstances of our lives: school, friendship groups, the workplace, personal relationships and ever increasingly by social media. Being bullied can often play a part in more severe forms of self-distain and self-loathing.
The Effects of Poor Self-Esteem
As with all issues people bring to counselling, negative self-esteem affects people in different ways and to differing degrees. Lack of confidence in one area in our lives doesn’t necessarily mean we have low self-esteem and is more easily addressed. On the other hand, someone can be confident in public but feel unhappy, conflicted or self-doubting within themselves.
The bottom line is that self-esteem is fundamental to our sense of identity and therefore underlies and feeds into other problems we may have in our lives. For some people who have been deeply wounded by their past experience and relationships the process of inner healing may be difficult and take time.
Improving Self-Esteem and Confidence Through Counselling
It always surprises us as counsellors to find how hard people are on themselves – much tougher than they would be with a friend. In circumstances where they would comfort and reassure a friend, people tend to criticise and punish themselves.
There’s nothing wrong of course with challenging yourself and setting yourself high standards. But when those standards are too high, unrealistic, or are out of keeping with who you really are, then they simply set you up for a continual sense of failure.
‘addressing issues from your past’
In counselling we work with self-esteem by addressing issues from your past to assist insight and understanding and to help you let go of blocked emotions left over from earlier relationships in your life. We will help you build new beliefs about yourself and your past. You can’t change the past, but you can learn to accept, let go or change your relationship to it.
‘acceptance and self-compassion’
Equally importantly we explore with you the ways your sense of self-belief and self-worth affect you in your current life and relationships, seeking to cultivate through discussion and challenge a greater sense of acceptance and self-compassion.
Self-compassion is now recognised as key to developing better self-esteem. This means getting in touch with your genuine needs, recognising your strengths and your limitations and fully accepting who you are. Learning to befriend yourself and to care for yourself is central to this process.
‘Learning to treat yourself as you would a close friend’
We will employ practical strategies and techniques alongside self-exploration to help you to get into more productive ways of thinking and to manage your feelings and emotions. Learning to treat yourself as you would a close friend will be part of this.
If you can accept yourself for who you are, then you can achieve more inner unity and peace. By improving your relationship with yourself you can reduce that inner sense of conflict, quietening the voice of self-criticism and learning to talk to yourself in kinder ways.
You can still challenge yourself and set yourself ambitious goals. But you can lean to be more forgiving if you sometimes fall a little short of the mark.
Making an Appointment to Deal with Self-Esteem and Confidence Issues
Michaela and Julian both have a particular interest in working with self-esteem, self-confidence and identity related issues. Often such issues will be accompanied by other problems such as anxiety, relationship problems and loss. For information about these other issues see our relevant pages.