Skip to main content Skip to navigation



Self-esteem relates to how we think and feel about ourselves and how much value you think you have as a person. Your self-esteem may affect how you view your achievements and setbacks, so if you have low self esteem you are likely to be more critical of yourself and not acknowledge your achievements.  

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, opinion and beliefs about self 
  • De-valuing of self-worth 
  • 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 - thinking through early life-experiences and even having therapeutic support to work through these experiences 
  • Reviewing the negative beliefs and thoughts that hold low self-esteem locked in, and strive to change them to neutral or if you can positive statements/beliefs (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 and Student Support 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, or ebooks.   

Boost Your Self-esteem {Creating Success}  

John Caunt  


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  


How to accept yourself  


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