Self Esteem / Self Confidence

When you have low self esteem you tend to view life in a very negative way which makes everything seem hopeless, pointless, too much effort, you see yourself as being worthless, think other people are better than you, have difficulty in saying what you really feel and want, lack confidence and find it difficult to stand up for yourself and be assertive and consequently find that often people will take advantage of you and treat you badly. This in turn makes you feel depressed.

When your self esteem is high you view life in a positive way, you feel confident, you enjoy life, you see difficulties as challenges, you are able to be assertive and say what you want and feel and you don't allow other people to treat you badly and take advantage of you. You are able to stand up for yourself, believe in yourself and believe that you are worth just as much as anyone else.

There may be any number of reasons why you may have low self esteem. It could be abuse you have suffered as a child, or as an adult, you may have had a breakdown in a relationship, been involved in a violent relationship, been bullied, lost your job, be suffering from ill health - there are all sorts of things which can affect a person's self esteem. You may find that you have not been able to talk about some of the difficult things which have happened to you, you may not have received any support and be trying to cope on your own. You may have been in a situation where you felt another person had control over you - you felt powerless to do anything about it - you may have felt used - all these things can lead to a person having low self esteem.

You may not feel valued as a person, may not feel loved and wanted, may not have much affection, you may not feel cared about. You may feel that nobody is there to listen to you - how you really feel, you may feel isolated and alone and unsupported.

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What can i do to increase my self esteem?

  • Talk to someone about how you feel - family, friend, a teacher, a youth leader, an organisation, a helpline - anyone who you feel safe with, who you feel you can trust and talk to in complete confidence about everything that is going on for you.
  • If you have been through difficult times, trauma, find it generally hard to cope with life consider talking to a counsellor - SupportLine 01708 765200 keeps details of counsellors and counselling organisations throughout the country and can give you details on this. A counsellor will work with you and give you support on a weekly basis and help to resolve anything from the past which is still affecting you today and will help to build up your self esteem.
  • Some people find it helps to express how they feel in other ways, - writing, compiling poems, dancing, drawing, painting - anything that works for you to get your feelings out.
  • Try to keep as healthy as you can. When you feel good in a physical sense it helps to cope with difficulties in life - you feel less under pressure. Eat little and often healthy food, drink lots of water, get plenty of exercise and fresh air, try to get to bed at a reasonable time and learn to relax.
  • Don't try to deal with everything at once, set yourself small tasks each day and praise yourself for doing them. Don't give yourself a hard time if things go wrong, if you make mistakes, nobody is perfect - just do the best you can.
  • Sometimes it seems that everyone is better than you, everyone is talking about you, looking at you - the reality is that most people are too busy worrying about their own lives and problems that they are not taking any notice of you at all.
  • Try to learn to be assertive, say what you want, what you feel, what you need.
  • Try and spend time with others, try to get out, enjoy yourself.
  • When you have done something well, congratulate yourself.
  • Remember you have a right to voice your opinions, a right to disagree with people, a right to ask for help, a right to say you don't understand, and a right to say NO.
  • When you speak to people try and be calm and firm. Don't shout (this is aggression and not assertiveness), try not to whisper and look down, but look at the person you are speaking to and try and speak in a clear, firm voice.
  • Don't allow other people to pressurise you into doing something you don't want to do - you have a right to say no and keep repeating how you feel. You don't have to go into reasons to justify what you are saying - just keep repeating that you don't want to.
  • You have a right to lead your own life and to work out what you feel is important to you and your goals and ambitions. Nobody can dictate to you how you should lead your own life.
  • You have a right to make mistakes, to change your mind.
  • Sometimes when we suffer from low self esteem and are feeling low it can make all the difference in the world just to have a hug - if you are with someone you trust don't be afraid to ask for a hug.

Hugging feels good, dispels loneliness, overcomes fears, opens doors to feelings, builds self esteem, eases tension, fights insomnia. Hugs also say a number of things: I understand how you feel, you are special, you are who you are, not just what you do, you can feel safe, you can trust me to be here for you and support you. Hugs offer belonging, strength and healing.

And remember there are people out there who care!

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Agencies which offer support and information  

SupportLine Telephone Helpline: Helpline -
01708 765200


Confidential emotional support for Children, Young People and Adults. Also keeps details of agencies, support groups and counsellors throughout the UK

Dabs Directory & Book Services
07854 653118
24hr answer phone helpline
Books relating to a wide range of issues including self esteem, assertiveness, abuse, self harm, eating disorders etc.

Learn Direct National Learning Advice Line
0800 101 901 (Learn Direct Scotland 0808 100 900)

Details of courses on assertiveness and self esteem (local, distant and online courses)

Useful websites -

(Also see Self Help Section)

Useful Book

The Confidence To Be Yourself by Dr Brian Roet - Publishers Piatkus Books: ISBN 0749919264
Click here to read more or buy this book

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