As a self-esteem therapist in Cincinnati, I explain self-esteem to my clients as how self-assured we are that we can face life’s challenges and overcome them, how confident we are that we can get what we want out of life, how worthy and loveable we feel, and how much we respect ourselves and expect others to respect us.


A diminished sense of self-esteem leaves us feeling vulnerable, alone, feeling guilty and/or ashamed all the time, thinking and talking down to ourselves, and having a feeling that we have no control or influence over the outcome of our lives.


Our sense of self-esteem starts developing early in childhood. When our parents cheer us on in a soccer game, when we pass a difficult exam and when we get recognized for an activity or achievement, or self-esteem grows. The opposite is also true. If we have an experience of being unloved, unappreciated, not cared for, or not being encouraged, our self-esteem is bruised and diminished.


As adults, many life challenges can leave us with a reduced sense of wellbeing and confidence, and injure our self-esteem. My clients often suffer self-esteem challenges when an intimate partner leaves them, or they get passed in a promotion, or get turned down for a job opportunity that they wanted. Many clients experience self esteem challenges when they feel their physical health is deteriorating, or when they feel overwhelmed and helpless with regards to challenged their family is facing.


Self esteem counselors hear their clients describe how their self-esteem challenges  manifests in numerous and different ways. One of the most common features of low self-esteem is negative self-talk. People with low self-esteem regard themselves critically and may feel a perpetual sense of failure or lack of accomplishment. Feelings of low self-esteem are perpetuated by constantly comparing themselves to others and criticizing themselves. These negative messages are rarely true, but the thought patterns may be so ingrained in a person’s behavior that he or she does not recognize the frequency with which they occur. Upon examination, people often admit that the negative messages are inaccurate and that they would never say such things to another person.


Low self-esteem is also closely associated with the following conditions and experiences:


  • Codependency

  • Social anxiety

  • General anxiety

  • Shame

  • Depression

  • Inadequacy

  • Powerlessness

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse

  • Perfectionism


This list is in no way exhaustive. Different people experience different symptoms for self-esteem challenges that can range in severity and manifestation.

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