The Importance of Healthy Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. If you have poor self-esteem you probably already know it from how you talk to yourself: self-criticism, pessimism and lowered expectations of your capabilities. On the other hand, if you have good self-esteem, you probably don’t notice it! You just get on with doing what you can, giving things a try and if you fail, seeing it as an opportunity to learn or choose more wisely next time. This kind of self-esteem may seem a matter of luck, but in fact, there are mental and emotional skills you can learn to respond with more confidence and improve your self-esteem.


Some signs you may be struggling with low self-esteem are:

  • Being extremely critical of yourself
  • Focusing on your negatives and ignoring your strengths
  • Comparing yourself to others to your detriment
  • Ignoring compliments or discounting them “Oh, anyone could do that”
  • Feeling hypersensitive and easily ‘wounded’ by others
  • Describing yourself negatively
  • Blaming yourself when something goes wrong, even for something out of your control
  • Avoiding situations where you fear others will judge you


There are many contributing factors associated with low self-esteem. Some of these factors might be:

  • An underlying mental condition
  • A childhood where you were criticised or held up to very high expectations, or paradoxically, where everything you did was praised, even when it required little effort on your part
  • Experiencing bullying in situations where high performance is valued, mainly work and school
  • Being traumatised in any of these environments such as that you choose to “Play It Safe
  • Ongoing medical problems such as a physical disability or serious illness

This TED-Ed Talk gives an interesting insight in to self-esteem and what factors can cause low self-esteem:

Strategies To Boost Self-Esteem

There are several simple strategies you can practice to promote healthy self-esteem and build confidence

  • Talk to yourself in a compassionate way – treat yourself as you would a good friend. Acknowledge that some things are hard for you, be supportive and kind.
  • Put yourself on the spectrum – you may never be the best, but you are probably far from the worst. In any case there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
  • Challenge your negative thinking – reflect on your negative thoughts about yourself objectively, even discuss them with a friend. You’ll likely find that most of these negative thoughts are unfounded, illogical and most of all not helpful to you.
  • Get active – Not only is exercise good for your body, it can be very beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing too.
  • Surround yourself with good people – good friends won’t support or reinforce your negative view of yourself, but rather will encourage you to take prudent risks and to pick yourself up after setbacks.

Our Self-Esteem Psychologists

Andrew Duirs
Andrew DuirsRegistered Psychologist
Andrew has been providing evidence-based counselling therapy for over 25 years. He is trained in Cognitive-Behaviour Therapies and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) […]
Dayana Noor
Dayana NoorPsychologist
Dayana is a Registered Psychologist with the Psychologist Board of Australia. She is also a full member of the Australian Psychological Society and a member of the Association […]
Patch Callahan
Patch CallahanClinical Psychologist
Josh Hobson is a compassionate and supportive psychologist who works with his clients to identify their inner strengths, and to draw on these strengths so that his clients […]

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