Admin 04 Aug , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by A. Balind MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker, Portage Medical Family Health Team


Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves, the words we use to talk to ourselves and the beliefs that you have about ourselves.  Our self-esteem can change depending on the moment and the situations that we find ourselves in.  The good news is, we can work to strengthen our self-esteem to help increase our mood and reduce any anxiety or insecurities that we may have.

Low Self-Esteem
Here are some ways that someone may notice or feel if their self-esteem is low:

How you might think How you might feel How you might act
  • Critical thoughts about yourself, your abilities, or your future.
  • Worries that you won’t be able to cope or fearing the worst.
  • Thoughts that you are not good enough.
  • An image of yourself as ‘worthless’ or ‘lesser’.
  • Negative self-talk, e.g. “I am ugly”“I am boring”“I am stupid”.
  • Low
  • Sad
  • Deflated
  • Hopeless
  • Picked-on
  • Un-confident
  • Anxious
  • Tired
  • Not try, for fear that you will fail.
  • Try too hard to prove yourself / overcompensate.
  • Avoid people, places, or situations.
  • Criticize yourself.
  • Dwell on your failings.

What changes our self-esteem?
May things can have an impact on our self-esteem over a period of time.  The following are just a few examples:

  • Early childhood experiences– this can be the praise or neglect a person may have had as a child.The words that parents/guardians/supportive persons have a strong impact.
  • Other’s expectations– do people expect things of us or put pressure on us that we do not like or want.
  • Peer groups– Do the people we spend time with lift us up or push us down?
  • The praise, encouragement, praise and/or attention we receive – is there anyone in your life, including yourself, that provides this? Or only in a negative way?

What keeps our self-esteem going strong?
The beliefs that we have about ourselves and what we continue to tell ourselves can either increase or decrease our self-esteem.  When one’s beliefs about themselves are challenged, we tend to resort to some safety measures as follows:

  • Self-talk: try to speak kindly and gently to yourself. “next time I need to pay more attention so I don’t mess up”, “I did my best and I am proud!”
  • Rules that you set for yourself: make sure that you are 70-90% confident that you are able to meet the rules and goals that you set for yourself. If your confidence is not that high, change the rules and goals to meet that percentage.
  • Future thinking: try to recognize only certain outcomes and not all of the potential things that could happen. Plan for the good and the bad outcome.
  • Facing situations: make your best effort to deal with problems as they come up, it will keep your motivation high and stop the problem from getting out of control.
  • Friends/family: Surround yourself, when possible, with like-minded, supportive, positive people that care for you in the way that you care for them.