What Are the Effects of Low Self-Esteem?

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  • Written By: Rachael Cullins
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 28 December 2019
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Suffering from the adverse effects of low self-esteem can have an impact on many aspects of a person's life. The effects of low self-esteem play a role in work life and personal relationships and can lead to overly negative self-criticism. The causes of low self-esteem are varied and there are numerous options to help alleviate these feelings.

The effects of low self-esteem often extend to a person's professional career. Feelings of inadequacy may lead to a lack of confidence in proposing new ideas to colleagues and interacting with superiors. Jobs that require a great deal of contact with customers, clients, or team members may be especially difficult for those suffering from low self-esteem. Lack of a feeling of self-worth may make it hard to feel confident enough to interact with others without fear of failure or feelings of inadequacy or stupidity compared to others.

Personal relationships can also be negatively impacted by the effects of low self-esteem. Those suffering from this condition may have a difficult time establishing romantic relationships, considering themselves unworthy of affection and lacking confidence in their ability to find a mate. Friendships can also be affected by low self-esteem, which can lead to difficulty trusting friends, as those with low self-esteem often feel that others do not truly care about them or are trying to manipulate or sabotage them in some way.


There are many theories on the causes of low self-esteem. Poor treatment or excessive criticism by parents or other family members while growing up can lead to lifelong feelings of not being able to live up to an unrealistic ideal. The condition may be related to other more serious disorders closely tied to the effects of low self-esteem such as depression, eating disorders, and self-harming. Those suffering from low self-esteem may have difficulty trusting their intuition, believing compliments bestowed upon them by others, and having the confidence to pursue goals and dreams.

Many methods exist to combat the effects of low self-esteem. A counselor or therapist can help sort through the causes and develop personalized strategies to improve feelings of self-worth. A wide variety of self-help books are available, usually for cases of low self-esteem that do not include overtly harmful behaviors, such as self-harming or starvation. Becoming involved in “feel-good” activities, such as volunteering or pursuing a new hobby, can also help improve self-esteem, making a person feel good about him or herself through helping others or learning a new skill.



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