You Are More Beautiful Than You Think!

Healthy self-esteem is essential and central to good mental and physical health.  Negative or low self-esteem can directly contribute to other personal issues such as poor health and poor performance (i.e. in jobs, school, etc.).  Poor self-esteem can negatively impact on relationships and can cause further upset in one's life.  Disliking yourself can lead to a number of negative behaviours including but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction issues
  • Poor communication skills (for example, defensive stance, sarcasm)
  • Dependency issues due to lack of confidence
  • Social issues (withdrawal from others, loneliness)

How we view ourselves and our perceptions of our physical self as well as our internal self (i.e. our skills, abilities, intelligence) can positive or negatively influence how we interact with others and the world around us.  Identifying negative issues related to low self-esteem and working toward fighting against this is a positive step toward greater personal happiness.

The Dove video below has been around for a while but is worth reflecting on again if you have seen it before. 


Our culture places great emphasis on competition and success. While it's healthy to want to do good work, many people believe that being outstanding in every respect is the key to happiness and self-esteem. This attitude can create high levels of perfectionism and pressure to achieve which is called "performance anxiety". Performance anxiety can happen in any setting where we feel a desire to perform well e.g. meeting people we find attractive, giving a talk, or sitting for an exam.

Did you know?

  • Anxiety before an event is called anticipatory anxiety and often feels worse than the anxiety during the event.
  • Public speaking anxiety is one of the most reported forms of anxiety in the western world.
  • People often 'catastrophise' or overestimate the potential for something bad happening and underestimate their ability to cope.
Ten common thought distortions that undermine confidence and generate feelings of anxiety.

All-or-nothing thinking

You look at things in absolute, black and white categories.


You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as "always" or "never" when you think about it.

Mental filter

You dwell on the negatives and ignore all the positives.

You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of people, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about this reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

Discounting the positive

You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count".

If you do a good job you tell yourself that it wasn't good enough or that anyone could have done as well.

Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate.

Jumping to conclusions

You interpret things negatively when there is no definite evidence to support your conclusion.

Mind reading

Without checking it out you arbitrarily conclude that someone else is reacting negatively to you: "They think I'm an idiot."

Fortune telling

You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, "I'm really going to blow it. What if I flunk?"

If you're depressed you may tell yourself, "I'll never get better."


You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize your desirable qualities. Also known as the "binocular trick".

Emotional reasoning

You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel terrible about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly."

Or, "I feel guilty. I must be a rotton person."

Or, "I feel angry. This proves I'm being treated unfairly."

Or, "I feel so inferior."

"Should" statements

You tell yourself things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be: "I shouldn't have made so many mistakes."

"Should" statements directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration.

Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general, lead to anger and frustration: "He shouldn't be so stubborn and argumentative."  (** Refer to articles in the Anxiety Section for more information on this topic).

Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if they were delinquents who had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything. "I shouldn't eat that doughnut." This usually doesn't work because all those shoulds and musts make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite.

"Must", "ought", and "have to" are similar offenders.


Labelling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking.

Instead of saying, "I made a mistake", you attach a negative label to yourself. "I'm a loser." You might also label yourself "a fool" or "a failure" or "a jerk".

Labelling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist but "fools", "losers" and "jerks" do not. These labels are just useless absractions that led to guilt, anger, anxiety and frustration.

You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: "He's a jerk". Then you feel the problem is with the other person's character instead of with their thinking or behaviour. You see them as totally bad.

Personalization and blame

Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control.

When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulties at school, she told herself, "This shows what a bad mother I am," instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child.

Personalization leads to guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy. Some people do the opposite and blame other people or their circumstances for their problems. They overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem.

The first step to better self-esteem is to recognize and acknowledge the damage it is doing to you and begin to take steps to fight against it - Never doubt that you are worth it!

The article following this one provides some strategies to help you combat ongoing negative self-talk and increase your self-esteem.

Stopping Your Inner Critic

Self-esteem can be a fragile thing at times.  We can feel great one minute and in the next, something happens or someone says something to us that quickly diminishes our confidence in ourselves.  At other times, our own negative self-talk and self-criticisms can do the job without any help from anything and anyone.  While we can't control what others say or do, we can ALWAYS control ourselves.  With focus, effort and consistency, we can identify those thoughts we carry with us or say to ourselves regularly that diminish our confidence.

Don't allow your inner critic to crush the growth of positive self-esteem!

For tips on how to start the process of stopping your inner critic and embracing yourself please see the attached PDF article.


Self-Esteem - Stop Your Inner Critic!.pdf Self-Esteem - Stop Your Inner Critic!.pdf
Size : 71.478 Kb
Type : pdf

Karen Searle, M.S.W., R.S.W., Psychotherapist
544 George Street North, Peterborough, Ontario
K9H 3S2 ~ 705-875-7442

Photo ~ a stunning flower from Ixtapa, Mexico