Overcoming Low Self-Esteem
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Tim LeBon (MA (Oxon), UKCP, BABCP accredited)
16th November, 20110 Comments
Do you sometimes think that you are not good enough? Do you ever feel that you are less than fully acceptable to others or that other people are more attractive than you. Do you ever sense that you are in some fundamental way unloveable? If so, you may be suffering from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a very common problem, affecting people from all social classes and levels of education. Low self-esteem can also be a serious problem since it is associated with severe mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The good news is that there is now an effective, relatively short-term treatment to help you overcome low self-esteem, namely CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). In this short article I will give an overview of how CBT can help people build higher self-esteem so you can judge for yourself whether CBT may help you overcome low self-esteem.
The key idea of CBT is that how you think affects how you feel. Suppose a friend ignores you as you pass her on the street. There are many ways you could think about this event. Someone with relatively high self-esteem might think "She probably didn't see me" and think nothing of it. Another person might think "I wonder if she is OK, maybe I should give her a ring". These are both perfectly reasonable responses . However if you suffer from low self-esteem you are more likely to think "I must have upset her " or "even she doesn't like me anymore." If you have low self-esteem your negative view of yourself makes you prone to interpret events in a negative way. Oxford psychologist Melanie Fennell, who has written an excellent book called Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, describes how low self-esteem can lead to a vicious cycle. Your low opinion of yourself leads to unhelpful and patterns of behaviour and thinking which reinforce your low view of yourself and can cause anxiety and depression.
CBT can help turn the vicious circle of low self-esteem into a virtuous cycle of improved self-esteem and more effective ways of thinking about thinks and reacting to them. If you do CBT you will be encouraged first to monitor your thinking patterns and behaviour so you and your therapist can understand the ways in which low self-esteem is causing you problems. Next you will be taught ways to answer back to the unhelpful thoughts you may have. You will also learn to challenge the unreasonable "shoulds" and "musts" that keep low self-esteem going and try out different, more effective personal rules. In as little as 8-12 sessions, I have found that many people have developed much improved self-esteeem and lower depression and anxiety. They have also learnt important skills that can make them more resilient for the future.
If you find this information helpful and think that you might be helped by CBT for low self-esteem, I suggest you look in the directory for a CBT therapist who offers treatments for low self-esteem near you. It could be the best investment you make ..
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