What is it?

Self-esteem (or self-worth) is how much you value yourself as a human being and to what extent you feel you have a meaningful place in life. Is your valuing of yourself conditional on meeting certain criteria, or unconditional, where you value yourself irrespective of your looks, personality, strengths and weaknesses?

How do I develop High Self-Esteem?

Developing high self-esteem can include holding an unwavering and fundamental belief in your right to be in the world purely because you exist, accepting yourself warts and all without judgement or pre-conditions, appreciating the personal powers you have to think, feel, speak and act and make a contribution to the world around you.

Whereas esteem from others - as nice as it may be - may not be a reliable method to value yourself. After all, if we are depending on the vagaries of others to approve of us or not, we may be setting ourselves up for an emotional rollercoaster!

What signs of Low Self-Esteem might I notice?

Signs of low self-esteem you might notice include thoughts and feelings of being less worthy than those around you. You may feel overwhelmed by the pace of life and have difficulty asserting yourself. This may lead to you withdrawing from the outside world and from those around you.

Low self-esteem may also cause you to lack the confidence to succeed, meaning you may often underachieve. This in turn can cause you to have an even lower opinion of yourself and even less confidence in your ability to perform. Lacking self-confidence can be a major cause of anxiety and stress; at its most severe it can lead to longer-term health problems such as depression.

If you have low self-esteem, you might be inclined to take more risks and put yourself into situations where you feel pressured into doing something you don’t really want to do.

For example, you may use sex as a form of escapism, trying to make yourself feel better about yourself, but often finding it has the opposite effect. Furthermore, you could also find yourself in situations where you are not as safe as you would like to be when having sex, yet don’t feel confident enough to say something or do anything about it.

How might I be assessed?

If you feel you might be experiencing low self-esteem and would like some help, our SRP Choices team have been trained to assess where you are in terms of what support you need and what service would be most appropriate for you.

How might I be supported if I have Low Self-Esteem?

For times when you just need someone to talk about how you’ve been valuing yourself or not, or have need for more intensive support, we can provide one-off `listening ear’ sessions to prevent issues escalating, short-term counselling sessions for more difficult issues or refer you to more intensive support services if your needs are more complex.

How can I avoid developing Low Self-Esteem?

Ways to avoid developing “low” Self-Esteem include self management strategies, talking with your friends, family or a health care professional.

If you regularly find yourself experiencing low self-esteem and negative beliefs about yourself, learning to recognise what `triggers’ those feelings could be a good way to help reduce them.

Deciding to unconditionally value yourself irrespective of how you perform or how others value you can also help reduce levels of low self-esteem.

What if I’m HIV positive?

Living with HIV can affect you in many different ways, including your esteeming of yourself. Other factors, such as feelings of rejection, can also lower your self-esteem. If you previously dealt with rejection when you came out as gay or bisexual, or when you told people you have HIV, then these can accumulate over time and have a negative effect on how you value yourself.

Where can I get help?

If you feel you might be experiencing low esteem and would like some help, our SRP Choices team have been trained to assess where you are in terms of what support you need and what service would be most appropriate for you.