Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Combating Low Self-Esteem

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The challenge in combating low self-esteem is that self-esteem is itself ephemeral. It’s a feeling, a state of mind, an orientation towards people and the world that might be very real but remains difficult to pin down, difficult to define.

But what is not difficult to pin down or define is the automatic negative thinking, the barrage of negative self-talk, that occurs throughout the day in the minds of people with low self-esteem. This negative self-talk, this self-critical running conversation, is tangible although for most people it occurs at the sub-conscious level. These thoughts are barely registered, they skirt across the periphery of conscious awareness. What is registered is the negative affect that follows. All this negative self-talk funnels into and reinforces the feeling of low self-esteem.

So combating low self-esteem is best achieved through actively bringing negative self-talk into conscious awareness and then challenging its validity through summoning up contradictory evidence. Negative self-talk almost always represents a biased, distorted form of reality that doesn’t tell the whole story but instead focuses on one small part of it. It exaggerates the bad without leaving any room for the good.

We can think of negative self-talk as the combustible fuel necessary to keep the fire of low self-esteem burning bright. Take away the fuel and the fire dies out. Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk, with thoughts about Self more in line with objective reality and less distorted by various faulty thinking patterns, is the best and fastest way to start combating low self-esteem.