Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence are terms that are often used interchangeably. They are ways in which we perceive and value ourselves. These opinions and beliefs about ourselves and the level of confidence in our abilities can feel difficult and overwhelming to change. Often we may not even know that self-worth or self-confidence is impacting how we show up in relationships, the opportunities we seek out, or the ways we present ourselves. However, therapy focusing on self-esteem or self-worth can help build and enhance this sense of personal value, authenticity, and empowerment.
Why is self-worth important?
Self-worth impacts many, maybe even every area of your life, including emotional health, romantic and family relationships, motivation, decision-making, and setting and achieving goals.
When you have high self-esteem, you feel fully confident showing up as your authentic self. You have a good understanding of your skills. You are able to see your strengths and weaknesses and accept them. You can set realistic personal expectations, make decisions with confidence, and stay motivated to achieve your goals.
High self-worth also helps you maintain healthy relationships, communicate your needs to loved ones, and set appropriate boundaries.
Healthy self-esteem ensures that you are able to process past negative experiences and integrate them into your sense of self without them being the only thing that defines you. You are able to practice mindfulness and find joy in the smallest of things. You have a sense of wonder about life, you are present through each experience.
What are the signs of low self-worth?
Low self-esteem, low self-worth, or low self-confidence can manifest in many ways, such as:
- Experiencing consistent fear, doubt, and worry
- Having an intense fear of failure
- Having trouble accepting positive feedback
- Being unable to set boundaries or say no
- Putting other people’s needs before your own
- Thinking others are better than you
- Focusing on your weaknesses
- Feeling a lack of control
- Struggling with confidence
- Finding it difficult to express your needs
- Having a negative outlook on life
Not only can low self-esteem make it difficult to pursue your goals, live authentically and joyfully, and have healthy relationships, but it can also lead to anxiety and depression. Getting self-esteem therapy or counseling will help you build your self-worth and improve your quality of life.
What are reasons you may experience symptoms of low self-worth?
Living authentically takes courage, compassion, and vulnerability. Owning our past allows us to conquer our future. Taking a dive into our childhood can provide insight into patterns and ways of being in adulthood. Here are common childhood experiences of adults who experience low self-worth.
- You felt invalidated or unaccepted as a child.
- You were taught that you had to earn love through performing, perfecting, or pleasing.
- You often heard the words, “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re just a kid.”
- You were taught to listen to the opinions of others rather than your own intuition.
- You were taught it is better to be polite than, to be honest.
What types of therapies can help people with low self-worth?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particularly effective modality for building self-esteem. This evidence-based therapeutic approach helps you understand and address the impact of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Humanistic self-worth counseling
Humanistic self-worth counseling is based on the theory that every individual possesses the qualities to thrive. This type of therapy encourages qualities like empathy, creativity, intuition, and curiosity to help you reach your full potential.
Mindfulness-based therapy helps to improve relaxation during negative experiences. It is grounded in the Buddhist philosophy of being non-judgmentally aware of the present moment.
Narrative therapy helps you understand your perceptions about yourself and the resultant behaviors. The therapist works with you to address the stories you tell yourself, which result in damaging narratives. You learn to re-author your life story and thereby reduce self-loathing and improve self-esteem.
How can I improve my self-esteem at home?
You can boost your self-confidence and self-worth with different activities, such as:
Spend 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week completing sentences like:
- Today I will enjoy doing…
- I feel great when…
- I deeply desire…
- I secretly wish…
This exercise will help you enhance self-awareness and make a positive change in your perception of yourself.
Ask yourself if the following statements are true to get a sense of where your self-worth stands:
- I am good at what I do.
- I deserve respect.
- I am a lovable person.
- I find it easy to be myself.
- I am no better and no worse than other people.
If you feel most of the above statements are not true, self-worth therapy can help you build your self-confidence and enhance your self-esteem.
This self-worth enhancing exercise involves spending a few minutes every day writing a positive statement about yourself in a journal. Prompts can include things like:
- I felt proud of myself today when…
- My best quality is…
- 3 unique things about me are…
- My friends love that I…
This exercise involves keeping a record of the critical or negative statements about yourself that you say or feel every day. For example, if you think, “my husband must be sick of my cooking,” you should note the thought down along with the time. At the end of the day, reflect on each statement and write down the impact of the thought. Did it have a negative impact on your behavior or interaction with a loved one? Did it allow you to do something positive or avoid something unpleasant? After a week of reflection, you may see a pattern or theme to your self-doubts and how they are discouraging you from living your best life.
It can feel overwhelming to examine parts of your life that you don’t like and set goals for improving your self-esteem. Self-worth counseling with a mental health professional is challenging, yet meaningful work that will change your life and your relationships.
At Nurture and Be Therapy Services, we specialize in helping individuals develop and improve their levels of self-worth. Our goal is to help individuals to feel empowered and live authentically. If you are interested in speaking with one of our licensed therapists, then please contact us to schedule an appointment.