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Self-esteem can be described as a generalized attitude we have toward ourselves. It consists of all the ideas that we have about ourselves, the way we feel toward ourselves and what we believe others think of us. Our self-esteem affects every aspect of our experience, from the way we function in relationships, at work, how we feel toward our bodies, what life goals we are likely to set and how we cope with setbacks and disappointments. There is a general agreement that positive self-esteem contributes to higher levels of happiness and satisfaction in life. Sometimes people experience different levels of self-esteem in different areas of their lives. For instance, you may feel very competent and communicative at work and struggle to form and maintain a romantic relationship, or vice versa. Also even a well-developed self-esteem can be challenged by sudden life changes or perceived failures, such as loss of job, ending a relationship, financial problems, and many other experiences and events.

Low self-esteem may not always be apparent but it can have enormous impact on the quality of life. Each of us has an inner critical voice but in people with low self-esteem this voice is louder and more prominent. However, the inner critic may be so interwoven into the fabric of our thoughts that we might be unable to identify it and stop its destructive impact on our daily lives. Low self-esteem might be reflected in the negative thoughts and statements about ourselves (e.g. I’m not good enough, I’m boring, I will never find a partner, I’m stupid, I’m not pretty); tendency to blame ourselves and mulling over past mistakes and failures; discounting our achievements; feeling stuck and unable to take action out of fear of making a mistake, experiencing self-doubt, struggling with intimacy, anxiety and loneliness, and even a sense of shame

How psychotherapy can help you increase your self-esteem?

Many of your current beliefs about and feelings toward yourself stem from the past and may be deeply rooted in your self-image. You may not even be able to notice them by yourself; you just know that you are not feeling good in your skin. Psychotherapy provides a space for a person to express, perhaps for the first time in their life, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and develop resources and skills for further life. Getting to know yourself and being interested in your own inner life is the best way to start building your self-esteem. By doing it you are giving yourself a message, my experience is important and worthy of my attention. A therapist’s role is to guide you through this process of raising awareness of your limiting self-beliefs and self-defeating behaviours and their impact on your life. Through such exploration you have a chance to re-evaluate your beliefs and create a more realistic view of yourself. You may identify areas that you want to improve and skills that you want to gain which will contribute to increasing your self-esteem. The process of therapy equips you with a toolbox of self-caring skills which will support you in your self-discovery and personal development.

Milena Kadziela