Clients who come to see us at Anchor Counselling often describe a feeling of having low self-esteem and its importance cannot be underestimated.  It is key to negotiating the trials of life. While low self-esteem is not a disorder, its symptoms can undermine us and lead to anxiety and depression but it is important to realise that it is within our power to feel better and raise our self-esteem.

The foundations of low self-esteem are often found in our environment. Like building a new house, the circumstances and terrain are often instrumental to how proudly it stands. Those fortunate to have good parenting and material comfort often find it easier to make a safe happy home. For those lacking them, a more resourceful or indirect approach may be needed.

Self-esteem grows by degrees, built up brick by brick and floor by floor. Even when attained, it can be challenged by unfortunate events. The death of a loved one… the loss of a job…

Building self-esteem may be a slow process. Some people may need more good experiences to compensate for the poor ones to feel more fully confident to trust in themselves and their abilities and resilience. But with incremental changes that change the course of our lives towards where we want to be, the confidence of succeeding in one field can spill over into new ones.

Attainment and progress in sport, work, or a special interest, are good examples for making incremental changes, as are academic or vocational training where we overcome our initial fears. It might be the slow painful jog around the block that one day ends in a completed marathon. It is a good habit to cultivate, to focus on your strengths rather than ruminating over perceived weaknesses.

Keeping the dream of small successes in our mind’s eye helps us overcome doubts when we take our next cautious steps on the road ahead. With each new step it becomes easier to take more.

A helping hand

If friends and family struggle to help you, counselling can offer a safe supportive environment to provide some balance. As with all therapy, the real gains come from clients making their own decisions about their lives. Objective professional guidance can enable this while helping you avoid straying from the path and losing sight of the finish.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often recommended in building self-esteem. It can help improve your quality of life and give a sense of overseeing one’s destiny. It can also help challenge negative thinking about abilities, luck and circumstances, while addressing any bad influences and habits that get in the way of feeling better. It can reset expectations to something more attainable and realistic by raising self-awareness and tuning in to what individually is more beneficial and meaningful rather than what other people think, or what society denotes as ‘successful’.

You don’t need a magic wand to raise your self-esteem. A thoughtful positive engagement with life can soon bring dividends. All you need is the desire for a greater sense of self-worth and the courage to take a first step – the belief will follow your actions. Counselling can help you to do that.

Further information  

These links offer lots of information in understanding the importance of self-esteem along with options for treatment to help you build it up and maximise your potential.

NHS - Raising low self-esteem

Mind - Self-esteem

Psychology Today - Self-esteem


Book: Strengthsfinder 2.0 From Gallup.  Don Clifton.  ISBN 978-1-59562-015-6-53200

The book focuses on identifying and building your strengths as opposed to trying to improve weaknesses so that you can be more of who you really are and play to your strengths. You can find it here on Amazon.