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Self-Esteem Therapy: CBT for Low Self-Esteem

You’ve probably heard the word “self-esteem” before. But what, exactly, is it?

Self-esteem, in simple terms, is the way you think and feel about your own worth and value. The term “self-esteem” can be interchanged with self-regard, self-worth, or self-respect.

Basically, self-esteem is about what you think of yourself ー how much you like and value yourself, regardless of your current situation or circumstances. It’s easy to value yourself when you’re “winning” in life, but how do you feel about yourself when you’ve made a huge mistake? When things aren’t going so well for you? Are you able to maintain your sense of self-worth when everything falls apart?

At Reimagine Psychology Melbourne, our down-to-earth psychologists use evidence-based practices to help you work towards strengthening your self-esteem so that it can weather the unexpected hits life throws at you.

What is Low Self-Esteem?

Before we start talking about the signs of low self-esteem, it’s important to understand that self-esteem isn’t a black-and-white issue. Instead of thinking of self-esteem in terms of “good” and “bad”, try thinking about it on a spectrum.

Burnt out person | designed by Reimagine Psychology Melbourne

The signs we’ll talk about here are the signs that you may be on the lower end of the self-esteem spectrum ー but people can have excessive self-esteem, too. The goal is to achieve a healthy level of self-esteem: knowing your worth, but also not overvaluing yourself to the point where you’re holding yourself to impossible standards.

Building healthy self-esteem is also a lifelong process. There might be times in your life when you have a healthy level of self-esteem, and at other times your self-esteem might suffer. Self-esteem is malleable, meaning that you can always work on strengthening it. Just because you have low self-esteem now doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever.

What Are the Signs of Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can look differently for everyone, but there are some common signs of low self-esteem to look out for. These include:

  • Being critical of yourself. Maybe you’re hard on yourself for your flaws; you might be much harder on yourself for your flaws than you are on others for theirs. You might find that you’re saying mean things to yourself that you’d never say to a friend.

  • Comparing yourself to others. and feeling like you come up short. You know life isn’t a competition, but you can’t help comparing yourself to others. And every time you do, you feel like you come up short ー like others are better than you.

  • Feeling depressed or anxious. Often, low self-esteem causes other mental health symptoms; these might include a low mood, irritability, anxiety, and restlessness. Low self-esteem isn’t, in itself, a mental illness, but it could make you more vulnerable to more serious mental health problems.

  • Having a hard time accepting mistakes. You might be particularly hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Others tell you that it isn’t a big deal, but you can’t seem to let the mistake go. You ruminate on the mistake you made, feeling horrible about it.

  • Ignoring your achievements. Like anyone, you have strengths and weaknesses; successes and failures. But if you have low self-esteem, you might forget about your strengths and successes, instead focusing on only the times in your life when you feel like you’ve failed. 

  • Having a hard time making decisions. If you have low self-esteem, it might be hard for you to make a definitive decision about something. You’re constantly questioning yourself, so you never know if the decision you’ve made is the right one.

Do you recognize any of these low self-esteem in yourself? If so, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a psychologist. 

Why is Self-Esteem Important?

Having healthy self-esteem isn’t just about feeling good about yourself; it’s actually one of the most important factors in our overall mental and emotional well-being. When we have healthy self-esteem, we become:

  • More able to stand up for ourselves and our needs

  • Less critical of both ourselves and others

  • More accepting of our mistakes and flaws

  • Better able to develop healthy and positive relationships

  • Stronger and more resilient in the face of hardship


Your level of self-esteem also has real effects on your life and health. Research studies have found that low self-esteem is linked to:


  • Relationship satisfaction

  • Job satisfaction

  • Unemployment rates

  • Salary

  • Likelihood of depression

  • Stress levels

  • Severity of symptoms, for people who have chronic health conditions

  • Vulnerability to substance use and addiction

  • Physical health


One study even found that self-esteem may influence life circumstances, and not the other way around. In other words, having healthy self-esteem could literally change the course of your life.


We think that’s pretty important.

how can a psychologis help


What Is the Best Therapy for Low Self-Esteem?

At Reimagine Psychology Melbourne, we use a variety of treatment methods to help you strengthen your self-esteem. We’ll always work together with you to figure out what might be the most helpful for you. We never prescribe a one-size-fits all method ー we believe that therapy needs to be collaborative to be effective.


One of the most effective ways to achieve a healthy level of self-esteem is through cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT. Remember that self-esteem is malleable; CBT is the tool that’s used to mould it.


CBT for low self-esteem works by helping you to challenge that critical voice in your head that tells you: “You’re not good enough.” Together with your therapist, you can identify when you’re being hard on yourself ー and then change your self-talk into statements of self-worth and value.


For example, maybe you made a small mistake at work. You find yourself thinking:

“I’m such an idiot. Why would I do such a thing? Now everyone is going to think that I can’t do well in this position. Everyone is so much better than me, and I didn’t deserve to get this job.”


Your psychologist can help you to identify those thoughts (based on low self-esteem) and compassionately challenge them. Are these thoughts really true, or is this just your low self-esteem talking?


Using CBT for low self-esteem, you can change these self-critical thoughts into something more accurate and reflective of healthy self-esteem, like:


“I made a mistake, and I’ll apologise. But I did a great job on my last project, and one mistake doesn’t define me. No matter what happens with this job, I know I’m still a valuable human being.”

Schedule an Appointment

If you’re looking for therapy for self-esteem in Melbourne or online, our team at Reimagine Psychology Melbourne can help. Self-esteem can be strengthened, and we’re here to help you do it.

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our experienced Psychologists, call the team at Reimagine Psychology Melbourne on (03) 8330 5588 or email us on

Austin Chu | Designed by Reimagine Psychology Melbourne
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