How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

Written by: Dr Joseph Kekulawala (Psychiatrist)

Last updated date : March 29, 2022

Self-esteem is your view of yourself. People with high or healthy self-esteem have high self-regard. They have a healthy relationship with achievement and success. This is in contrast to people with low self-esteem who feel chronically unsatisfied or unhappy with themselves. They don’t deeply value themselves. In this article, we will cover how to overcome low self-esteem. 

Before we get let’s outline what low self-esteem means. A person with low self-esteem is likely to:

  1. Ignore or downplay their strengths and qualities 
  2. Be more likely to be critical of themselves
  3. To blame themselves when something wrong happens. However, if anything good happens, they will take no credit for it. 

Low self-esteem can cause sadness, anxiety, lead to perfectionism, relationship breakdowns and lower overall quality of life. 

You are probably able to appreciate just how bad having low self-esteem can be. So, next, let’s explore how to overcome low self-esteem?

Chapter 1:

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem: Self-Help

Social connections

If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it can help greatly to have someone to talk to. That person doesn’t have to be a close friend or a family member. It could be a health professional, counsellor, a neighbour or someone you trust from your community. Being able to share, feeling connected will go a long way to helping with low self-esteem.

You don’t need lots of friends. In fact, it’s the quality rather than the quantity of relationships that matters when it comes to feeling connected.

Learn more about low self-esteem

It can help knowing more about self-esteem. There are plenty of resources online. Here at Epsychonline, we have a six-week course on low self-esteem. There we go over different psychology skills to help.

Once you are more aware, you better understand what you need to do. You can make the right choice. Take your time when learning about low self-esteem, don’t get overwhelmed by all the information online.


There is mounting evidence that exercise can improve mood, relieve stress and anxiety plus boost overall physical health. People with low self-esteem don’t take care of themselves. Getting back into regular exercise could be one way of how to overcome low self-esteem. 

Do fun, relaxing activities

Do fun and relaxing activities. Keep it simple, something that will help take your mind off their worries. Pick something that you used to enjoy, and try add it to your routine. Make a habit out of it again. 


Chapter 2:

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem: Get Professional Input

Speak to your doctor or therapist

There is an overlap between low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and certain eating disorders. If you think your low self-esteeem is causing other concerns, it’s best to get professional support. Even if you are not experiencing a mental illness, psychologists are trained to help people with low self-esteem and other mood symptoms.


Chapter 3:

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem: Psychological Strategies

Challenge negative self-talk

People with self-esteem are overly critical of themselves. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychology therapy mode. With CBT, people can learn to challenge any negative thoughts. Firstly, they learn what negative thoughts are. Next, how to pause and challenge the negative thoughts with more constructive or balanced thoughts. 

Overcome negative self-beliefs

Underneath poor self-esteem is often a couple of negative self-beliefs. You might be aware of what yours are. Examples of negative self-beliefs are “I’m not good enough”, “nobody loves me”, “no one cares”. Psychological therapies can help untangle those negative self-beliefs. As you can imagine, it would be hard to overcome low self-esteem if you had negative beliefs about yourself. 

Practising gratitude

As we mentioned earlier, people with low self-esteem struggle to appreciate the small wins they have each day. Being able to pause, notice and appreciate the little things, over time makes a difference. You can practice appreciation by using a gratitude journal. Here you can make mention of the small successes each day, compliments you receive, your good qualities that shone through. 

Awareness and mindfulness

In our article on what causes low self-esteem, we touched on how past mistakes and choices can continue to shame us and lead to low self-esteem. Try to live in the here and now, forget about the past. Mindfulness skills can help here. Each time your mind reminds you of something hurtful, try to let the thought go. 

We hope you have learned something here on how to overcome low self-esteem. Self-esteem is fundamental to our sense of self. Sadly a lot of people have negative views of themselves. Luckily, there are effective ways to boost someone’s self-esteem. Psychological, professional supports and lifestyle tips are some ways that can help.