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How to Help Someone With Self-Esteem Issues

Those dealing with self-esteem issues can experience depression and negative thoughts if the problem persists.

What is Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem is something that millions deal with daily, and while many people may not feel that it is that serious of an issue, it can lead to deepening mental illness and serious cases of it can even lead to physical ailments. To be able to help those with low self-esteem or confidence issues, we’ll need to know more about it in general. We’re going to take a deeper look at just what low self-esteem is, what are the signs and causes, and what can ultimately be done about it.

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Defining Self Esteem

The simplest way to define self-esteem is that it’s one’s overall opinion of themselves. Those with healthy levels of self-esteem have a realistic idea of their value and their abilities, while those with artificially inflated self-esteem often see themselves as better or more valuable than others.

On the other hand, those with low self-esteem will have a lower opinion of their value and may be unhappy with themselves in general. Those with low self-esteem may also have dissatisfaction with one or more aspects of their life or body, without reasonable cause for the diminished opinion.1

What Are the Signs of Low Self-Esteem?

Having poor self-esteem can seem like something that only a select few people suffer from, but in reality, there are some signs of low self-esteem that nearly everyone has probably displayed at one point or another.

Common Symptoms of Low-Self Esteem

Some of the most common characteristics of low self-esteem include:

  • Saying overly negative things and being critical about yourself
  • Joking about yourself in a negative way
  • Focusing on your negatives and ignoring your achievements
  • Blaming yourself when things go wrong
  • Thinking other people are inherently better than you
  • Thinking you don’t deserve to have fun
  • Not accepting compliments
  • Avoiding challenges for fear of failing
  • Being overly upset by disapproval or criticism
  • Feeling sad, depressed, anxious, and angry

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

There are many different potential causes of low self-esteem, and while some individuals may have experienced many causes during formative periods in their lives, others may have only had it result from one particular incident. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Experiences such as punishment, abuse, or neglect
  • Insufficient warmth, affection, praise, love, or encouragement
  • Failure to meet other people’s expectations
  • Inability to fit in with your peer group 2

How You Can Help Someone With Self-Esteem Issues

If you know someone that’s suffering from serious self-esteem issues, you likely want to know what you can do to help them. Friends, family, and loved ones may all experience periods of low self-confidence in their lives, so here are some ways that you can help them to improve their self-confidence to healthy levels. If you have self-esteem issues, you can try some of these for yourself as well.

Tell Them You Love Them and Why

Those with low self-esteem often have challenges with loving themselves and feeling that love from someone else can help immensely. Tell them you love them and give them at least one honest reason why. It doesn’t have to be a big reason, but it should be true.

Actively Share Positive Things

Sharing good things in life with someone feeling down about themselves is a great way to help brighten their day. This could be something related to them, or something as simple as a funny meme or joke that made you think of them. 

Encourage Self-Care

Self-care is often disregarded by those with self-esteem issues but helping them take care of themselves will benefit them in multiple ways. Treat them to a spa day, encourage them to eat a healthy meal (or congratulate them on eating), or simply check-in that they’ve had a glass of water recently. These can all go a long way.

Don't Tell Them How to Feel

Telling someone to “cheer up” or “just don’t worry about it” is the best way to make sure they don’t do those things. Validate their feelings, be empathetic, and ask them if they want to talk more about it. If they want to talk, that’s great, listen to them, but if they don’t want to talk don’t push.

Change Their Focus

Many times, those with low self-esteem will be consistently focused on the more negative aspects of their lives. Shift the focus to good things like their recent accomplishments, a stylish outfit they’ve worn, or anything else that may show them there’s always something good to think about.

Help Them Be Resourceful

Help them find people like them. Social media is a powerful tool and can be the perfect way to help them identify with similar people. This can be particularly effective if they have an unconventional or uncommon hobby or interest. Even helping them find new people to connect with and add to their feeds can be a great way to help them bring more enjoyment into their lives.3

The consequences of bad self-esteem can be devastating. These can include:

  • Anxiety, loneliness, stress, and a higher chance of developing depression
  • Issues with both friendships and romantic relationships
  • Academic and job performance issues
  • Increased likelihood of alcohol or drug abuse 4

Treatments for Low Self-Esteem At Boardwalk Recovery

There are two main ways the recovery professionals at Boardwalk Recovery can help those living with low self-esteem or other self-esteem challenges. There are psychological treatments that can involve therapy, support groups, and other avenues as well. Medical treatments are also available, with many people able to be helped with certain medications or other methods.

Psychological Treatments

For those suffering from low self-esteem, there are many options for psychological treatments. Research shows that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) tends to be one of the most effective choices. Additionally, a therapist may suggest group therapy, compassion-focused therapy, or competitive memory training.

Medical Treatments

Low self-esteem is most often treated with talk-based therapy, but in some cases, therapy alone is not enough. In these circumstances, certain medications can be used to help. These often include anxiety or depression medications, depending on the symptoms that the patient might be experiencing due to their low self-esteem.
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