What is self-esteem?
Everyone holds opinions about the type of person that they are. These opinions are at the heart of self-esteem and they affect how you feel about and value yourself. Self-esteem is not static and fixed; your beliefs about yourself can change throughout your life as a result of circumstance and experience.
If you have low self-esteem these beliefs will often be negative. You may focus on what you feel are your weaknesses, and mistakes that you have made.
People think I am confident because I can address a room full of people. The reality is that I spend most of my time thinking that I’m not good enough. If I... give a speech, I spend the next few days thinking about all the mistakes I made.
If you have high self-esteem, you will generally see yourself in a positive light.
You might find that life events such as losing your job, ending a relationship or being bereaved give your confidence a huge knock, but high self-esteem can act as a buffer to absorb these knocks and help you bounce back.
Your beliefs make the difference between high and low self-esteem. It is important to realise that these are only opinions, they are not facts. They can be biased or inaccurate, and there are steps you can take to change them.
How is self-esteem related to mental health?
Low self-esteem alone is not a recognised mental health problem, but if you have low self-esteem it will have an effect on your mental health.
Holding negative beliefs about yourself lowers your resilience and ability to cope with the stresses of life. This can place you at a higher risk of developing mental health problems such as eating disorders, depression or social phobia, which are closely related to your mood and self-belief.
Low self-esteem can be triggered or made worse by existing mental health problems, such as a panic disorder or schizophrenia. You may find that the pressure of other symptoms and the stigma associated with mental health problems impacts on the way you see yourself.