top of page

The Undesirable Effects of Low Self-Esteem

Therapy for low self esteem
Artists like Rembrandt were famous for their low self-esteem

Is it painful for you to say NO to others? Do you always beat yourself up (with negative self-talk) whenever you fail or make a mistake? Are you settling for less in a relationship because you feel you’re not worth it?

Examining your self-esteem may help you understand why.

What is Self-esteem?

It is commonly defined as confidence in your own worth and abilities. It is understood as self-respect or faith in oneself. But low self-esteem seems to be a problem as common as colds and flu, and this problem is affecting one’s own happiness and undermining their relationships.

Signs of Low Self-esteem

We’ve hinted earlier some signs of low self-esteem, such as feeling bad about saying NO, beating yourself up for anything, and settling for less because you feel you’re unworthy of the best (or anything better). Some of the signs also include:

  1. Addiction to apologizing. This means saying “I’m sorry” when you are not or apologizing at the most “unnatural” situations/circumstances. This can include saying “sorry” when someone else bumps you or whenever you want to express your opinion.

  2. Feeling shame (not guilt) when you make a mistake –as if a mistake is already a huge mortal sin. Guilt is feeling bad for the mistake/wrong you did, whereas shame is feeling terrible about yourself for doing it.

According to Glenn Schiraldi, PhD (professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and author of “The Self-Esteem Workbook”), “Pioneering self-esteem researcher Morris Rosenberg asserted that nothing is more stressful than lacking the secure anchor of self-esteem.” Moreover, Rosenberg’s research reveals noteworthy signs of low self-esteem:

  • Social withdrawal,

  • Sensitivity to criticism,

  • Hostility,

  • Physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and insomnia,

  • Excessive focus on and preoccupation with personal problems –and even magnifying small ones [making a mountain out of a molehill],

  • Putting on a false front to impress others.

Lisa Firestone, PhD (clinical psychologist and co-author of “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice”) explains that people with weak and unsteady self-esteem also struggle with negative and self-critical thoughts. “These thoughts often …hold them back from going after what they want in life.” She adds, “When a person feels worthless, they can start to show poor performance or stop trying to achieve in areas in which they feel defeated: academically, professionally, or personally.”

Schiraldi says that failure can be especially hard to take for people with low self-esteem. They experience more shame than others.

Effects of Low Self-Esteem

While it’s normal for our confidence to fluctuate (especially when experiencing major setbacks) if you constantly lack faith in yourself, it can negatively impact you as well as your relationships. This is especially debilitating to your relationship with your partner.

According to an article in Everyday Health, studies show that self-esteem has a bearing on your satisfaction with the relationship. The same is true for your partner’s relationship satisfaction. “When you feel bad about yourself, your insecurities can start to creep in to the way you act with your significant other –and that can have a negative impact on both of you.”

The article cited another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology where the researchers asked 500+ male and female respondents to answer questionnaires about their self-esteem and how threatened they felt by their partner’s weaknesses.

Those with low self-esteem felt MORE threatened by their partner’s imperfections and they were more likely to view their relationship as black-and-white: as all bad or all good.

This type of polarized view of one’s partner can strain the relationship. Steven Graham, PhD (lead author of said research and Psychology associate professor at the New College of Florida) explains, “If my views of you are changing very quickly, thinking very positively about you one minute and negatively the next, that could make the other person feel insecure.”

In addition to these, low self-respect has these effects:

§ Attracting/getting caught up in toxic relationships. Those with low self-esteem tend to stay in relationships where the partner treats them poorly and doesn’t provide them with kindness, care, and emotional support because they don’t think they’re worth it.

§ Connection in the relationship stays superficial. They are afraid to be completely vulnerable with their partner due to lack of confidence. Because of low self-esteem, the person feels as though being totally honest, forthright, and open is going to push their partner away. Because they are guarded, they don’t get to know their partner on a deeper/more intimate level.

§ Being clingy and jealous. Because they have low self-respect, they tend to be jealous, possessive, and needy. Ironically, these same behaviors will actually push their partner further away.

§ Constantly needing reassurance. Because of their insecurities, they constantly ask their partner if he/she’s still interested in the relationship or does the partner still find him/her lovable. This constant need for reassurance can cause the partner to doubt them and question their relationship.

What can you do?

Well, there’s always the bright side: low self-esteem is not set on stone. Although it may take time and constant rehearsal, you CAN definitely build up self-respect, improve low self-esteem, and nurture unconditional love for yourself. This doesn’t mean being self-absorbed or becoming selfish.

Schiraldi, in his second book “10 Simple Solutions for building Self-Esteem,” wrote:

Wholesome self-esteem is the conviction that one is as worthwhile as anyone else, but not more so. On one hand, we feel a quiet gladness to be who we are and a sense of dignity that comes from realizing that we share what all humans possess — intrinsic worth. On the other hand, those with self-esteem remain humble, realizing that everyone has much to learn and that we are all really in the same boat.

We can help you restore your self-worth and develop self-esteem.

Here at Jarvis Hypnotherapy in Sydney, our mental health professional will help you win yourself back and get out of the low self-esteem trap.




bottom of page