Low Self Confidence

Low Self Confidence

When an individual does not place a high value on their persons or their achievements. This can cause them to feel anxious, stressed and unable to handle lifes troubles.

What is Low Self Confidence

Anybody can experience low self confidence though commonly it is felt by children, teenagers or young adults while they are still learning about themselves and the world around them. They are often in competition, although it is worth noting not necessarily intentionally, with friends, siblings and peers, academically, socially and in extra curricular pursuits as well as consciously or unconsciously being judged by themselves and each other.

Individuals who sufferer with low self confidence hold themselves in low esteem. They may underrate their educational and personal achievements, or they may think badly of themselves as a person. This often causes them to feel lonely, stressed, and anxious. For many individuals it can result in a feeling that they are not prepared to cope with lifes problems, which then follows a self perpetuating cycle whereby the individual believes they are going to fail and so does not take opportunities. However it is possible for people to raise their self confidence if they are willing to do so.

Symptoms of Low Self Confidence

Symptoms of low self confidence can vary for the individual but common symptoms include:

  • feeling low or down, which can lead to depression
  • becoming withdrawn from social situations or activities
  • avoiding situations of judgement, such as a competition, and as mentioned above, missing opportunities because they do not feel good enough to succeed.
  • feeling anxious or helpless
  • feeling isolated and lonely
  • feeling unable to cope or manage in certain situations.
  • feeling inadequate to perform certain tasks or skills

The symptoms of low self confidence are often self perpetuating of the condition. If an individual prevents themselves from doing something because they do not feel they are good enough to participate they will only re-enforce their negative ideas and feelings. Just as feelings of low self confidence can lead to depression, suffering with depression only exaggerates feelings of hopelessness and worsens the individual's belief in themselves and their abilities.

In extreme cases these symptoms and feelings can lead to the individual trying to cope negatively and damaging themselves with alcohol or drug abuse or self harm, which only serves to perpetuate a vicious cycle.

Causes of Low Self Confidence

Although there can often be a combination of factors, low self confidence is usually triggered by a negative event or experience early in life, such as a failure or the individual being told or made to believe that they are not a competent person. This results in the individual truly believing that they are not capable of coping in similar circumstances again. This then triggers anxiety, fear and panic which causes the individual to either avoid entering into the same situation again, or they do put themselves in the same position again and fail due to their high levels of stress, re-enforcing their initial fears. This becomes a vicious cycle whereby the sufferer’s self confidence continually lowers.

Other common triggers of low self confidence may be high expectations placed on the individual by themselves or others or pressure from peers or bullies.

Stressful situations, such as separation or divorce, loss of a loved one, an unexpected failure, loss of a job or being unemployed for prolonged periods of time can shake or damage an individual's self confidence. As can as mentioned above, suffering with depression or a mental illness.

Diagnosis of Low Self Confidence

The individual will be able to recognise or be aware of their feelings of low self confidence and that these often occur when presented with certain situations. However, it can be hard for others to diagnose the condition as suffers are often withdrawn and may be reluctant to talk about their situation, or may be embarrassed by, or want to hide their behaviour if they have been hurting themselves. They may also feel that they are unworthy of treatment or being taken care of.

However it is very important individuals get help to improve their quality of life and emotional and physical well being, especially if they are harming themselves.

Individuals can talk to a GP in confidence who may ask the individual about their personal history and how they are behaving towards themselves as well as what may trigger their low self esteem and how this makes them feel. In some cases a GP may perform a physical exam to check overall health.

How to treat Low Self Confidence

There are things individuals can do to help raise their own self confidence. These include writing down what triggers their anxiety. Although this can be difficult and may take a long time, it is important that the individual manages their problems. Their trigger may be a person, or a place, or a certain undertaking, and the individual may find that there are some situations they can cope in without becoming anxious, whereas other situations cause them stress. Individuals can then focus on why they can cope in some challenging situations, but avoid entering into others. Often individuals discover that they have unlikely assumptions of what is going to happen. Recognising this is a big step in overcoming low self confidence.

Individuals may also help themselves by having a favourite place or spot which they have selected where they can go to when they want to feel calm and relaxed. This may help them to build positive notions about themselves as well as having a place to take time out from negative situations.

Individuals may also benefit from rewarding or treating themselves when they feel they have accomplished something, no matter how big or small as a way of showing and reminding themselves they can achieve.

Often treatment will vary based on an individual's circumstances. Commonly the most effective treatment for low self confidence is cognitive behavioral therapy. During therapy the doctor will teach the patient how to think during certain situations. They begin by discussing how the sufferer feels about themselves and other people, and then through a series of sessions the doctor guides the patient to change how they perceive themselves and others around them. CBT tackles how the individual feels about themselves in the present rather than looking at the past and teaches individuals' strategies for coping in stressful situations.

For example, often when the patient meets with somebody who seems disinterested in them they think that they have done something wrong or offensive. CBT encourages the sufferer to think about what problems the other individual may be having rather than focusing on themselves. This helps to lower the sufferer’s anxiety about talking with others.

In extreme cases if an individual is suffering with depression they may be prescribed antidepressants and referred for further treatment, just as if an individual is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or self harm they will be referred for specific further treatment, which may incorporate treatment for low self confidence. For treatment of drug and alcohol abuse or self harm please see the individual problem pages.

Alternative treatments that some sufferers may benefit from include aromatherapy and massage to aid relaxation. massage may also help an Meditation can help an individual calm the mind and focus on positive thoughts or goals. Alternative exercise like yoga can also help with relaxation and focus while aiding an individual in feeling in control of their body and themselves.