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Self-esteem reflects the intrinsic belief in the self, ie the overall opinion and value of a person. Possessing a healthy capacity for good self-esteem involves self-respect, self-acceptance and an appreciation of self-worth that embraces both strengths and limitations. A person with ‘good enough’ self-esteem is able to feel good, even in the face of adversity. For example, when life events seem difficult, they still value themselves as good enough. In contrast, someone with chronic low self-esteem in a similar situation may feel overwhelmed with negativity.

Common elements of low self-esteem include:

  • Negative thoughts and beliefs about self
  • De-valuing of self-worth
  • Poor opinion of self
  • Self doubt and condemnation
  • Neediness and seeking out reassurance from others
  • Self criticism
  • Propensity for depressive thinking and hopelessness
  • Inclination to perfectionism
  • Distorted world view

Low self-esteem usually develops from early life ‘messages’ about being unacceptable in some way that hold and strengthen over time thus developing the sense of low self-worth.

Moving out of low self-esteem

Possessing a healthy self-esteem does not necessarily mean feeling happy and positive but rather that, even in times when we feel sad or low, our intrinsic belief in our worthwhile self remains in tact. Moving out of chronic low self-esteem may be helped by

  • Reflecting on the reasons for the low self-esteem - maybe thinking through early life-experiences
  • Reviewing the negative beliefs and thoughts that hold low self-esteem locked in, and then disputing them (eg ‘I am inferior’ could change to ‘I am OK as I am’)
  • Monitoring self-critical, anxious thinking (perhaps keep a written log) and counter such negativity with self-acceptance and positivity to ‘practice’ healthy self-esteem beliefs
  • Considering lifestyle changes to include healthy options for body, mind and spirit
  • Planning to do something enjoyable that is empowering and self-nourishing and makes you feel good about yourself
  • Moving away from comparing yourself to others and towards self-compassion

Getting Support

The Wellbeing Support Services are available for students at the University of Warwick:

For more information:


Self-help references

The following references are available from the University Library either in hard copy, CD or ebooks. Most are readily available to buy either in bookshops or over the internet. There are also a limited number of books in the Learning Grid and the Bio-med Grid.

Develop Your Self Confidence

Glenn Harrold


Boost Your Self-esteem {Creating Success}

John Caunt


Forgiveness/Loving the Inner Child

Louise Hay


365 Steps to Self-confidence : A Complete Programme for Personal Transformation - in Just a Few Minutes a Day {3Rd Ed.},

David Lawrence Preston


Building Self-esteem : How to Replace Self-doubt With Confidence and Well-being

William Stewart


Developing Self-esteem : A Guide for Positive Success {Fifty-Minute Series}

Connie D Palladino


Triumph Over Shyness : Conquering Shyness and Social Anxiety

Murray B Stein, John R Walker


Conquering a sense of inferiority



How to cope with loneliness

Maekins and Gorman


How to increase your self-esteem



Overcoming low self esteem (CBT)

Mel Fennell


Overcoming social anxiety and shyness (CBT)

Gillian Butler


Confidence works: learn to be your own life coach


Sheldon Press

How to accept yourself


Sheldon Press

The assertiveness Handbook

Mary Hartley

Sheldon press

10 days to great self esteem



How to start a conversation and make friends



How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie





The Confidence to be Yourself

Brian Roet


Please see list of other self-help references.

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