What do low self-esteem and anxiety have in common?

People suffering from low self-esteem often overestimate challenges whilst underestimating their own ability to be able to deal with these. Some researchers say that people with low self-esteem may develop this due to childhood circumstances, others state a biological cause whilst others postulate a relationship with genetic influences.

Low self-esteem can make people have a problematic relationship with challenges in their lives and make them live a life that is below their potential. On the other hand, many sufferers of low self-esteem can also live a life that’s in line with their potential. Individuals in the latter category often suffer from anxiety and / or depression. This is because most things in their life that they challenge themselves to meet, will be tackled with excessive perfectionism and a strong sense of urgency. This can relate to a lot of factors around them. Someone who is at work and has low self-esteem may over check emails or be overly meticulous with their work. They may also find it hard to delegate, because a part of them catastrophises the implications of giving up even a little bit of control. This again can stem from the overestimation related to the challenges of work and the underestimation of their own ability to deal with these challenges. Others will not exercise control but avoid through the means of procrastination. This can be done by not even starting to address or engage in any challenges that would express their potential. Excessive avoidance can also cause a dream like state of existence in which most forms of concentrated effort feel excessively difficult.

Control and avoidance are different sides of the same coin and are partially responsible for maintaining low self-esteem. This is because the overestimation of challenges and the resulting perfectionist tendencies subconsciously confirm that everything around them is a bigger deal than it actually is. Just like when someone constantly avoids future challenges and continues to experience a sense of anxiety and excessive distress. This is of course reinforced the more a sufferer controls or avoids. As a result, this can act as a driver in itself.

Some people experience low self-esteem in specific areas in their life and for others it is so entrenched that it relates to all aspects of their life. For example someone may always end up in relationships where they are used by others. They may people please too much and avoid conflict in relationships, thinking that otherwise their partner will leave them. The controlling type may over check their partner when they leave, thinking that it’s very likely that they will cheat on them. As with the previous examples related to work, both actions reinforce low self-esteem tendencies and thereby a more threatening view of reality.

Behaviours driven by low self-esteem often incur a short-term benefit of relieved anxiety or any other form of distress. This is accompanied by the long-term cost of maintaining low self-esteem. Finding a suitable psychotherapist in London will help you address your problems related to low self-esteem, by looking at changing the contingency of short-term benefit with the implications of long-term cost. This is done by changing relevant behaviours related to low self-esteem. A natural consequence of this is a short-term increase of distress with the long-term benefit of a more beneficial view of reality. The accompanied increases in self-esteem lead to this benign view of reality. Following this, the triggers related to low self-esteem that also reinforced anxiety will become more and more absent, which makes people less distressed and able to lead much more fulfilling lives.

If you are suffering from anxiety, low self-esteem or any other mental health problem, contact us and we can help you find a suitable psychotherapist in London