Low Self-Esteem

Low Self-Esteem: Overview

Positive self-esteem improves one's health, sociability and general attitude towards life.  Of all the judgments you make in life, few are as important as the one you make about yourself.  The difference between low self-esteem and high self-esteem is the difference between passivity and action; between failure and success.

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Having a positive self-image is sometimes frowned upon in certain belief systems.  Labels such as pride, arrogance, and conceit can sometimes cause us to consciously impose a more negative view of ourselves than is warranted.  While arrogance and selfishness should be guarded against, the fear of them should not be an excuse for maintaining or wallowing in low self-esteem.

Negative self-esteem is a habit – a highly addictive habit – and there is little good or worthwhile about having a low opinion of oneself.  Habits can be changed.

References and Further Information

Books that others have found useful for evaluating, understanding and improving low self-esteem include:

  • Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem by Marilyn J. Sorensen
  • The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem or How to Raise Your Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.

Risk factors for Low Self-Esteem:

Symptoms - Mind - General


Symptoms - Muscular

Having excess body fat

People who are overweight tend to be more self-conscious about their body.  Losing self-respect and failing to command the respect of others go hand-in-hand.

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Low Self-Esteem suggests the following may be present:



Recommendations for Low Self-Esteem:


Posture Improvement

While poor self-esteem can contribute to poor posture, the idea that improving posture can improve self-esteem is surprising to some people.  Citing his recent posture study of five women between the ages of 20 and 50, Aaron Parnell, a personal trainer, concludes that poor posture can lock negative emotions in the body.  "Good posture emanates positive feelings in personal strength and self awareness, which leads to more self confidence."

After the women went through a series of specific body restructuring treatments to improve their posture, all of them showed remarkable differences in their self-esteem.  Most of the women were expecting the body treatments, which use certain stretching and breathing techniques, to release tension and straighten-out their bodies.  None realized it would affect their self-esteem.  100% reported they were much more bold and willing to take risks at work.  80% said they had more energy and were jumping out of bed in the mornings.  60% said their bodies were looking and feeling more feminine.  All of them volunteered that they were more self-accepting now that they were in touch with their bodies; they felt more comfortable with who they were.

See a posture specialist, chiropractor, yoga teacher or deep tissue body worker to help undo years of poor posture habits.  While it is becoming clear that posture and self-esteem directly influence each other, more study needs to be done on the connection between posture improvement and self-esteem enhancement.


Mental Exercises

A useful technique for increasing self-esteem is to talk oneself into it – this is called the argumentative technique.  You should come up with counter-arguments against low self esteem, just as if you were participating in a debate.  This can be a down and dirty process and it's pretty much no holds barred.  Using every argument at your disposal, counter the thoughts, concepts and emotions that are currently convincing you that you aren't worth much.  When you "hear" yourself thinking a thought such as "You do that every time... how could you be so stupid?", respond in some positive manner to that thought.

Examples might include:

  • Establish perspective.  "Hey, that wasn't so bad, get off my case."
  • Ridicule the opposition.  "How do you expect me to learn if I don't make mistakes?"
  • Poke holes in its logic.  "No, I don't do that every time, just occasionally, and I'm working on why it happens."
  • Pull out examples from your past when you've exhibited your value and use them in this argument.  "I may be weak in this area but I'm good at (fill in the blank).  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses."

Do not let the negative self-talk continue unchallenged.  Use of the argumentative technique demands that you refuse to be convinced of the opposing side's position.  It may try and use deep emotions in its counter-attacks such as depression, despair of ever being good enough or worthlessness.

These counter arguments are knee-jerk conditioned reflexes.  This part of the self really isn't very intelligent.  It can only repeat what it's been told by yourself and others as well as create the accompanying emotions.  It just isn't reasonable to allow oneself to be persuaded by inner voices without challenging them or allowing moodiness to take over.

These inner voices have been generated by someone at some point in time and you can change them; you can alter the program that plays in your mind.  Your input is vital in diminishing the thought processes and arguments that put you down.  Although you may have failed over and over in some area, letting it get you down doesn't do any good and the tendency to fail or the unwillingness to try new things (because you might fail) will spread to other areas of your life.

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