Is low self esteem the biggest issue?

frog with low self-esteem offering flowers to princess

Low self-esteem is a constant theme that runs through much of my client work. By no means to do all potential clients come to me asking for help in raising self-esteem of course, but it often comes up as an issue.

One person comes to me about his relationship challenges and through exploration we come to the conclusion that his partner is not able to respect him because he does not adequately respect himself.

Another time I meet a young woman who is desperate to lose weight. She has been dieting in various ways since she was thirteen years old and has never been happy with her appearance since a gang of other girls chanted ‘fatso’ at her in the playground. She is an attractive, normal woman but her poor self-esteem causes her to focus entirely on the ‘negative’ aspects of her appearance.

Does self-esteem really make a difference?

Self-esteem is something we all have, but to varying degrees and in varying contexts. You can be a bear in the boardroom but a kitten in the bedroom. You can be a hero behind a fire hose and never pluck up the courage to ask a man out for a drink.

Ask yourself:

  • would you have lower anxiety levels if you have adequate self-esteem?
  • can you be totally depressed if you have a good level of self-esteem?
  • if you think more highly of yourself would you find it easier to stop smoking or drinking, Will binge eating or starving yourself be less of an issue?
  • could you be more confident, if you had higher self-esteem?
  • will your success be greater or less if you have a high level of self-esteem?

The list goes on. Not everything stems from low self-esteem. In fact some problems can actually be worsened if your self-esteem is too high! Arrogance and pigheadedness are unattractive qualities for example when trying to form relationships. It is also true to say that many psychological issues are caused by one-off experiences, trauma and other factors that are not necessarily linked to self-esteem.

I do believe though, that dealing with low self-esteem can significantly help with resolving problems. It can help you cope with life events and creating a more positive and successful future.

What’s more, raising self-esteem to overcome one issue, usually has pleasant side-effects in other areas of life too. Feeling better about yourself can increase the respect of others. It can give you better job prospects. It can help you find new and better friends and make you feel happier with where you are in life.

When you feel good about yourself people tend to notice it. Even if they can’t put their finger on exactly what it is. One of my most rewarding experiences when working with clients is when they tell me that their friends, their family or their colleagues say ‘you have changed now’.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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