Is there an effective treatment for low self-esteem?
The short answer is YES!
Often low self-esteem is something that’s been there for some time before you realize it’s a problem. So, it’s not a quick fix. To be honest, it takes time and commitment. But, so does any important personal change. Noticing the changes is amazing and results in personal growth.
So how do we help you fix this? Research shows that one of the most effective treatments for low self-esteem is cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, for short.
CBT is a therapy that’s specifically designed to reduce low self-esteem using the following approach:
Recognizing the origins of your low self-esteem
We’ll help you identify and understand the causes of your low self-esteem. Low self-esteem comes from negative experiences, relationships, events, and situations. Your counsellor will help you identify these experiences and understand how those situations specifically affect you. Giving voice to these situations and events helps in processing the negative impact they have had on you.
Understanding how negative experience caused your low self-esteem
Therapy helps you to understand how negative experiences caused your low self-esteem, and why. Through understanding these experiences, you can start to separate your identity from the messages you internalized from them. This reduces the impact they have on you. Unfortunately, when you’ve been treated badly, you think, ‘I deserved it’ or ‘it’s because of who I am’.
Accepting that your self-critical thoughts didn’t originate in you
In counselling, you will start acknowledging your self-critical thoughts and identify what’s causing you to have them. Oftentimes, people with low self-esteem have found the origin of their negative thoughts coming form parents, partners, ’friends’, siblings, work colleagues, teachers, and bullies. And, learning where these negative thoughts about yourself originated, you begin to understand that these critical inner voices are not you.
Sometimes, these critical thoughts can mutate into other words and phrases that can be even more hurtful than what was said or done to you. Therapy helps identify those, too. And, it’s important for you to separate who you are from those self-critical thoughts that came form someone else.
In counselling, we teach you how to replace those self-critical thoughts with a more supportive inner voice that’s actually on your side to help you.
Changing Patterns of Negative Thinking
Finally, improving your self-esteem means taking a big look at your patters of negative thinking. Low self-esteem is like a car and negative thinking patterns are the roads critical thoughts take to get to hurt you. Negative thinking is also known as negative thinking traps. These are traps our thoughts get stuck in, and they’re necessary for maintaining low self-esteem.
One common thinking trap that low self-esteem loves is ‘black and white thinking’ (also called ‘all or nothing’ thinking). This thinking trap throws up huge roadblocks in your mind and stops you from acting in your own self-interest and in doing things you don’t want to. It’s not surprising that black and white thinking stops you from setting boundaries with people who are not good for you—who treat you badly and keep you feeling poorly about yourself.
For example, you may have the black and white thought that “if I don’t say ‘yes’, they won’t like me.” So, you stop yourself from acting in a way that is more in line with what you really want. And, you agree to something out of fear of rejection.
Stop and think about how many times have your self-esteem has kept you from what you want