Low self-esteem can affect many aspects of our lives – our body image, home life, relationships and work.

It’s when we think about ourselves in a negative and critical way, and don’t place much value on ourselves.

Our survey found nearly half (49%) of women agree they struggle with, or are affected by, self-esteem issues.

Counselling can help give a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space to talk to a skilled professional and can help you explore and understand the issues you face.

And our members have shared some tips to help boost your self-esteem. These are things they often work on with clients to help them think more positively about their own worth and abilities.

Reframe your thoughts

Self-esteem is often influenced by negative core beliefs. These include thoughts such as “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not pretty enough”, “everything is my fault” or “I’m unlovable.”

Therapist Kate Megase says: “It’s important to recognise our negative core beliefs and understand how they were formed.

“Once you have recognised your negative core beliefs and their origins, begin to change them to positive ones by writing down affirmations that you can read daily. Regular journaling can also help you gain insight into how your thoughts affect your emotions and behaviour.”

Therapist Natasha Page agrees: Reframing our thoughts is powerful tool for enhancing self-esteem because it involves changing how we perceive and interpret experiences, especially those that are negative or self-defeating. Start talking to yourself like you would a close friend rather than your worst enemy."

And therapist and coach Nicola Vanlint encourages you to make a list of your positive qualities and achievements “no matter how small”.

She adds: “Reflect on these regularly to reinforce a positive self-image.”

Avoid comparison

Regularly scrolling through social media feeds can inundate us with images of people’s apparently perfect lives.

But things aren’t always as they appear on your phone screen.

Nicola recommends you to “recognise that social media often portrays an unrealistic version of reality. Focus on your journey and progress rather than comparing yourself to others.”

And Kate adds that women are more likely than men to compare their face and bodies to others.

She says: “It's vital for women to avoid comparing themselves to others, as it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a focus on perceived shortcomings rather than strengths.”

Practice self-compassion

How you treat yourself is crucial to building up your self-esteem.

“Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend,” says Nicola.

“Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Instead of being harsh or self-critical, try to speak to yourself in a supportive and gentle manner. Imagine how you would comfort a friend and use those same words for yourself.”

Natasha encourages you to practice a little ‘self-love’.

She says: “Self-love is essential for self-esteem because it involves accepting and appreciating oneself unconditionally. It means recognising our inherent worth and treating ourselves with kindness, respect, and compassion.

“Self-love encourages us to prioritise our well-being, set healthy boundaries, and engage in activities that nurture our mind, body, and spirit. By fostering a deep sense of self-love, we validate our own experiences and emotions, reducing the need for external validation.”

Set boundaries

Kate says it’s important to set boundaries, say no, and establish healthy limits with other people.

She adds: “Women often invest more in relationships due to societal expectations related to motherhood and balancing career responsibilities. Additionally, women tend to take on nurturing and caregiving roles, especially in romantic relationships, which can lead to giving more than they receive.

She concludes: “Respecting one's own needs and limits is crucial for maintaining self-respect and self-esteem.”

Find a therapist who can help you with your self-esteem with our Therapist Directory.