Self-esteem is best described as the degree to which we view our worthiness as a person. The foundation of our self-image is first developed during childhood and continues throughout life. If you have low self-worth, these earlier experiences have simply overshadowed you and have come to represent the sum total of who believe you are.
If you or someone you love struggles with low self-worth, we urge you to seek help from one of our licensed therapists. Regardless of whom you are, or where you have been, there is real hope for living a life of renewed purpose, meaning, and discovery. You do not have to stay here any longer.
Low self-esteem is frequently seen in several different, and often serious conditions such as major depression, anorexia, body dysmorphic issues, “cutting”, anti-social behavior, domestic violence, hoarding, borderline, and numerous types of addictions- just to name a few. This means that the presence of extreme low self worth can be a sign of another serious condition in someone’s life, and should always be taken seriously and not ignored.
Someone may throw a lot of “pity parties” as their unyielding thirst for validation, spotlight, and recognition helps them feel better. A person suffering from low self esteem may feel constantly worthless, and feel completely helpless to do anything to make his or her life better. They often feel defeated to think they can change other people for the better, let alone themselves, hence their personalities are driven inward, rather than outward.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one out of every 4 adults will suffer from a psychological disorder in any given year, the majority of for which low self-esteem is an underlying factor. In relation to a population poll conducted by the Census Bureau, that translates to a staggering 8 million in Canada. Poor self-image puts us at risk for eating disorders, teenage pregnancy, depression, suicide, criminal or violent behavior, bullying, victimization, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, poor job performance, divorce, and disastrous relationships to name only a few. The good news, however, is that just as self-esteem is developed during childhood, as an adult, you can learn to counter self-defeating behavior. With self-esteem counseling and support, you can discover how to release your negative self-image and accept a more positive sense of self.
As a child, parents are the biggest influence on self-esteem. Children who are consistently criticized, berated, yelled at or beaten by a parent quickly learn they are worthless. If a child is continually ignored, teased or ridiculed or if they are expected to be perfect all the time in order to be accepted, they eventually develop a poor self-image. If a child constantly fails at school or does poorly in sports, they will experience identity issues, especially when they reach their teens. How a parent deals with the situation is what directly impacts whether or not a child will develop a healthy self-image. Low self esteem can often occur as a result of a harsh or neglectful parent.
If you have feelings of worthlessness, it has probably manifested in one of the following ways. You may have taken on the role of the constant loser, the person who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop and is helpless to do anything about it. Self-pity provides an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for your life. You lack assertiveness and feel you must be in a relationship to be worthy. You are the typical underachiever.
You could also try to mask your low self-esteem by over compensating. You are the person who always appears happy. You are the highly competitive perfectionist who continually reminds others of your successes. Underneath however, you live in terror, worrying your true identity will be unmasked. You suffer from intense identity issues and tend to “burn out”.
Possibly, you go to the other extreme and act as though you simply “don’t care”. You tend to be angry and nothing anyone does for you is ever enough. You feel you are “unworthy” so you blame everyone else for your problems. You are controlling, the rule breaker and you have issues with authority, something that rarely ends well.