What impact does low self-esteem have on us?

Having low self-esteem can really affect many areas in life. It feeds into our self-efficacy (how well we think we can do something) and how we interpret situations, as well as our mood and social evaluations. With this in mind, let’s look at the wider impact low self-esteem can have.

Mental health and wellbeing

Consider this! We spend a lot of time in our heads. As humans, we take time to process, evaluate and reflect on information on a daily (and nightly!) basis. Now imagine if the mind was a very negative place: full of regular self-criticisms and self-doubts. Imagine the emotional and mental impact this would likely have. It becomes understandable if those with self-esteem issues also have poor mental health and wellbeing.

Low self-esteem and mental illness have what we call a ‘bidirectional relationship’. What we mean by this, is that low self-esteem can be a risk factor of mental illness (as we saw in the previous topic), as well as a symptom. For example, low self-esteem can create persistent feelings of sadness and low mood. It can trigger thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness, thus eventually leading to a depressive episode or even a diagnosis.

Building relationships

Our ability to initiate and build healthy relationships also requires our own boundaries and fair expectations of others and ourselves. Those with LSE may struggle to establish these boundaries. Those with low opinions of themselves may feel the need to overcompensate within their social relationships. For example they may:

-prioritise the needs of others’ excessively, whilst ignoring their own.
-have their troubles dismissed during conversation
-allow others to have unreasonable expectations of the amount of time and energy the individual should be willing to provide.
-end up in an abusive or coercive situation or relationship, whereby others take advantage.

In this way, having a healthy self-esteem helps others manage their expectations of you. The amount of time and attention you have for them isn’t assumed to be more than what is needed for a healthy relationship.

What impact does low self-esteem have on us? Brighter Life Therapy

For more information regarding people-pleasing and boundary setting, click here to see our blog on this topic.

School and work performance

Having low self-esteem can also impact our work ethic and subsequent performance.

A lack of self-belief plays into a negative outcome of what we call the ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy‘. This theorises that whatever we expect from ourselves plays into what we are able to achieve.

What impact does low self-esteem have on us? Brighter Life Therapy
A summary of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

If we believe we’re ‘not good enough’…

We may expect a poor result, thoughts of hopelessness and ‘what’s the point’ may begin to crop up.

As a result, our expectations impact our behaviour – we delegate less time and effort into the very thing that needs it.

Because we’re not trying our best, a poor result is achieved, reinforcing the previous belief: ‘I am not good enough’.

On a wider scale, this can really damage academic achievement for students who feel more likely to avoid opportunities to do well and don’t believe in their abilities.

Career-wise, those with low self-esteem may be more likely to avoid and miss out on job opportunities if they feel unable to do it well enough. As as result, their career may become a little stagnant – once again feeding into their negative self-beliefs.

Hobbies and spare time

Having hobbies and being productive is, of course, good for you. It can boost your mood and creativity, as well as help you build upon a skill that matters to you.

However, having low self-esteem is synonymous with repeatedly criticising oneself, and being pessimistic towards one’s own abilities. So even in the case of hobbies, an individual with low self-esteem may find it emotionally draining, or that it triggers low mood and negative thoughts.

This may be because very high expectations are set by themselves, whilst responding unreasonably negatively after inevitably not meeting those goals. As a way of avoiding negative emotions, the individual may avoid doing the hobby at all.

For more information on self-esteem in the context of perfectionism, check out our blog on this topic here.

For more insight into how self-esteem is linked to imposter syndrome, click here for that blog too!

Other than our day-to-day life, low self-esteem impacts our core beliefs and self-prescribed rules of living. Read on to find out more about these concepts…