The Anxiety Cycle

As well as low mood, low self-esteem can also be related to experiencing elevated anxiety-levels. This process is similar to that of the low mood cycle introduced in the previous lesson.

The key aspect of anxiety that links to LSE is the types of predictions that are made – they are usually negative and self-deprecating in nature. Similarly, it is the degree to which they are believed. Rather than allowing room for other possibilities and information, predictions such as ‘I will make a fool of myself’, ‘I will fail’ are not uncommon for those with LSE. Whilst these predictions and assumptions are therefore assumed to be facts, it’s hard to evaluate situations with an open mind. One notable difference between the anxiety and low mood cycles is that for anxiety to be triggered, our rules of living only have to be threatened rather than fully broken (see below!).

The Anxiety Cycle Brighter Life Therapy
The role of Anxiety in low self-esteem

It begins with a situation trigger, whereby our rules of living might be broken. This encourages negative thoughts attributable to the negative core belief, helping to (in the individuals’ mind) confirm them. From this, the anxious predictions are born and lead to unhelpful behaviours – commonly avoidance. This again activates the core belief and the cycle continues.

But what influences anxious thinking? What thought patterns are behind them? There are a couple of bias thoughts that certainly contribute to these predictions being triggered. For example:

  • Overestimating the probability something bad will happen (‘I’m definitely going to do badly in this project’)
  • Overestimating the severity of the outcome (‘My boss is going to think I’m an idiot and sack me’)
  • Underestimating your own abilities (‘I’m not good at this sort of thing’)
  • Underestimating resources around you that may help (feeling like you have to do it alone)