Building Self Esteem

Low self-esteem feeds on self defeating thoughts. These thoughts may be things like "I'm not good enough" or "I hate myself" or "I can't do this" or "No one likes me." Thoughts like these can be difficult to cope with and have an effect on how one feels about him or herself.

What can be done?

You do not have to accept these thoughts about yourself, you can challenge them by doing evidence gathering. Often times self defeating thoughts influence an individual to participate in selective observations, only seeing or hearing the things that we believe about ourselves. Attempt to gather evidence that supports and does not support the thoughts you are having.

For example, let's take the thought "No one likes me." What evidence do you have that this is true? Perhaps:

  • I spent the weekend alone
  • No one called me
  • I don't have anyone that considers me a friend

Now, what evidence do you have that does not support the thought? Perhaps:

  • People asked me how my day was going at lunch
  • I was invited to a study group for class
  • My brother/sister called me yesterday

All or nothing...

Self-esteem can also be influenced by all or nothing thoughts. Attempt to be aware of these type of thoughts. For example "NO ONE likes me" or "I'm not good at ANYTHING." Again, if these are typical of some thoughts you are having try gathering evidence that challenges the thoughts.


It takes a lot of strength and courage to challenge self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Try to identify what thoughts you engage in and be courageous in challenging them. If you need help identifying them ask a friend or family member or contact student counseling services for assistance.