One of the reasons that people may not look after their mental health as well as they should is because it’s not often easy to identify mental health issues.

When you have a sore back, well, you clearly have a sore back. But if you sound your car horn when someone cuts you off, the reasons aren’t so clear. Did you sound the horn out of anger because the other driver got in your way? Did you sound it out of fear that you might have a collision? Or did you sound it to let the person know that you are there?

What Is Self-Esteem?

In very basic terms, self-esteem is your opinion about yourself. It can be formed and influenced by your thoughts, relationships and experiences. Healthy self-esteem means you value yourself, your thinking and actions. Self-esteem is not, by itself, a mental health issue. But low self-esteem can trigger and/or exacerbate many mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and anger.

Low self-esteem can be particularly difficult to identify. It can be an overall condition where you feel a poor sense of self worth about yourself in general. But it can also relate only to a particular characteristic, like the feeling that you are a bad parent, even when you are confident and happy about other parts of your life. It can also be a temporary condition, perhaps based on a particular thought or action, by you or someone else, that diminished your self-esteem.

An artistic representation of mental ailmentSigns of Low Self-Esteem

Many, if not most people with low self-esteem may not realize they have it. But there are a number of signs that you may be struggling with a low opinion of yourself, including the following.

1. Being Overly Critical of Yourself and/or Others

If your inner voice is unduly negative of your thoughts and actions, it could be a sign of low self esteem. There’s nothing wrong with realizing when you made a mistake, or didn’t perform to your potential. But low self-esteem can lead you to be rarely pleased with what you do or your role in personal relationships.

Excessive criticism of others, including putting them down or spreading gossip, can be a projection of your low self-esteem onto others. It can be a sign that, because you don’t feel good about yourself, you try to solve the problem by making others look or feel bad.

2. Expecting Perfection in Everything You Do

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be your best in everything you do. But, if that means you are overly critical of yourself with anything short of perfection, it too can be a sign of low self-esteem. No one is perfect. A healthy opinion of yourself means you can accept that fact in yourself and move on.

3. You Go Out of Your Way to Put Others Before Yourself

Being good, considerate and caring of others are all enviable qualities in anyone. But when you often go out of your way to please others, especially at the expense of other things in your life, it can be because you are looking for validation from them due to your negative feelings about yourself.

4. Excessive Pessimism

Is your reaction to life’s ups and downs usually or always negative? Do you complain about things far more than appreciate them? Is nothing ever good enough for you? If so, they are not necessarily signs that you have high expectations or are discerning. Instead, excessive negativity may be a symptom of low self-esteem.

If you feel you are struggling with low self-esteem and would like to learn more, please contact us here at BRCook Psychological Services and schedule an appointment.

Bruce R. Cook

I have been a practicing mental health professional for the past 26 years and I have worked in various public and private practice settings throughout the GTA and Ontario. The populations that I work with are adults 18-64 and I have extensive experience working with both individuals on various presenting problems, and also as a couples’ therapist.

I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.
Bruce R. Cook