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Overcoming Low Self-Esteem: Strategies and Psychological Insights

Ms. Maheen Waqar

2 min read

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Low self-esteem can cast a shadow over every aspect of an individual’s life, negatively affecting their confidence and relationships, and hindering personal growth. Overcoming low self-esteem is a process that includes internal beliefs and external factors. A combination of psychological strategies and insights from well-established theoretical frameworks should be used to address and understand this issue and the challenges that follow. This article offers insight into the various strategies that should be used to manage low self-esteem, which are based on Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and Social Comparison Theory.

Understanding the Roots: REBT and Social Comparison Theory

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), developed by Albert Ellis, talks greatly about the cognitive processes concerning low self-esteem. Individuals’ emotional response is not determined by external events but is largely shaped by their interpretations and beliefs about those events (Ellis, 1962). How they perceive the information they have received and how it develops in their mind is what causes a boost in their self-esteem or causes their self-esteem and dignity to be demolished. Individuals with low self-esteem could hold irrational beliefs such as “I must be perfect to be worthy of love and acceptance,” making them feel worthless, their mind thinks they need to achieve something and be the angel child to receive love and admiration from my family.

Social Comparison Theory by Leon Festinger, states that people evaluate themselves by comparing themselves to other people around them, whether family, friends, or peers (Festinger, 1954). These comparisons cause feelings of inferiority and can ultimately contribute to low self-esteem.

Positive psychology techniques promote resilience and a more positive approach towards life (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). However, Cognitive Behavioural techniques are crucial for any cognitive errors, especially cognitive restructuring, and behavioral activation that targets cognitive distortions and similar patterns/behaviors that contribute to low self-esteem (Hofmann et al., 2012).

Strategies for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

1. Challenge Irrational Beliefs: Individuals are taught to challenge their irrational beliefs and create alternate thoughts that contribute to low self-esteem and improve it respectively. By identifying and disputing self-demolishing thoughts and beliefs, individuals can develop a more realistic and compassionate self-appraisal.

2. Self-Compassion: Individuals should learn to treat themselves with compassion and understanding, especially in stressful and low moments. Promoting self-compassionate responses when facing criticism instead of fostering self-criticism results in better well-being.

3. Develop Realistic Standards: It is necessary to identify and challenge unrealistic standards created by society and family members regarding perfection and accomplishments and life in general.  One should set attainable goals regardless of external validation, in this way people will have healthier goals and self-esteem.

4. Build a Supportive Network: Another important aspect is to have supportive connections may it be through friends, family, peers, mentors, or colleagues. It cultivates positive affirmations and socialisation.
5. Professional Help: The biggest help one can get is to seek out professional help from a therapist or a psychologist. The sessions they will indulge an individual in will help understand the patterns behaviors and cognitive processes causing low self-esteem and will teach you skills to improve and develop a better self-perception.


Overcoming low self-esteem requires patience, self-kindness, and a willingness to challenge deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors. By incorporating strategies informed by REBT, Social Comparison Theory, and other psychological insights, people can develop a more realistic, empathetic, and resilient sense of self. Ultimately, the process of overcoming low self-esteem is not about being perfect, but about accepting one’s inherent worth and striving for personal growth and fulfillment.


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Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 427–440.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Maheen Waqar
Ms. Maheen Waqar - Author Ms. Maheen Waqar is a Psychologist with 2 years of experience. You can book an in-person appointment or an online video consultation with Ms. Maheen Waqar through oladoc.com or by calling at 04238900939.

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