Correcting Low Self-Esteem

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I tend to have a problem with self esteem: I do have self esteem issues and I am also a Student In Training or a S.I.T. I am a S.I.T for saying sorry too much, looking worried and if Isay something to somebody and they do not hear me the first time I tend to say never mind and refuse t tell them what I have said. Once a person in my class counted how many times I had said sorry. He ended up saying sorry fourty times and he was not with me for the whole day. I also look worried or that is what my teacher says. She says that I never look calm or relaxed. I also have a problem with saying nevermind if somebody does not hear me the first time. Here is the average conversation between me and a class mate:
Me: That math test was kind of hard was it not?
Classmate: Huh what did you say?
Me: Oh it was nothing
Classmate: No I really want to hear what you have to say.
Me: Oh nothing.
Classmate: Okay.
I also have a problem with the volume of my voice. My teacher says that I do not speak loud enough. During a play practice she said that people who were fifteen feet away from me. I do not know why I do these things, but I knw that I need help.

A. I believe you are correct when you say this is a self-esteem problem. It’s common for teenagers to have problems with self-esteem. Developmentally, most teenagers will struggle with this issue but the good news is that it can be overcome.

You seem to feel as though you don’t matter to people. Perhaps you also feel that you’re a burden to others. You seem to feel unimportant and believe that what you say isn’t of any relevance. This could explain why you talk in a low, quiet voice. It could also explain why, if you make a comment that someone doesn’t hear, you are reluctant to repeat yourself. All of your behavior points to a lack of self-confidence.

Sometimes people with low self-esteem feel as though they are not worthy of love or the attention of others. If someone is not treated well by their parents, for instance, they may begin to believe that they deserve to be treated badly. This type of thinking makes it difficult to develop a good healthy self-esteem.

How can someone develop self-esteem? There are several ways to do this and it’s important to keep in mind that it may take time. Below are some tips that you may find helpful:

  • Get involved: engage in extracurricular activities, school events, band practice, dance class, art class, and so forth. Find something that you are good at. It can help you to feel better about yourself. Accomplishment is an effective way to develop self-confidence. You don’t have to be the best at everything you do but one’s self-esteem will increase if an individual succeeds in accomplishing at least one task.

  • Volunteer: volunteer your time at a local pet shelter, nursing home, food bank, homeless shelter, etc. Doing good things for others can help you to feel better about yourself. People often feel good about themselves when they have helped to improve some aspect of society or the lives of other people. Volunteering can be a powerful way to increase one’s self-esteem.
  • Surround yourself with supportive friends and family: affection from people who are important to you can help an adolescent feel that they are important, needed and loved. It will help you to feel that you are deserving of this type of treatment from others.
  • Get help: almost everyone needs assistance developing a healthy self-image. If your parents and those around you are not providing you with sufficient support then request to see a mental health professional.

Increasing one’s self-esteem includes accomplishment but it also means believing in reality. Many people who have low self-esteem erroneously believe negative things about themselves. I see this in counseling quite often. For instance, a person may feel like no one likes them but in reality they may have many friends. People with low self-esteem have a tendency to discount positive aspects about themselves and highlight negative qualities that are often not true. A therapist could help you sort through these issues.

I would encourage you to attempt some of the aforementioned tips but also to speak to your parents. You should inform them about your struggles at school. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your parents about this issue then go to a teacher or the guidance counselor at school. They may be able to assist you in developing your self-esteem or direct you to a mental health professional. Self-esteem and related conditions such as depression and social anxiety are some of the most common reasons individuals enter counseling. I wish you well. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Correcting Low Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/17/correcting-low-self-esteem/