What Causes Low Self-Esteem
Adult Skills,  Communication,  Independent Learning,  Individual Development,  Psychology

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

What causes low self-esteem? We explore the problems and difficulties experienced by people with low self-esteem. Find out what influences self-esteem and how low self-esteem can develop.

What Influences Our Self Esteeme?

Our parents, siblings, teachers, and friends have a big influence on our self-esteem. As early as childhood, there are a variety of things that shape how we look at ourselves.

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?
What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

Some of the most notable are those that stay with people for most of their lives.

That said, here are just a few things that people normally consider, particularly as it relates to dealing with low-self esteem.

It’s difficult to live up to the expectation of others, including yourself. Often, you can start feeling that you are not good enough.

Serious illnesses, bereavement, and stress can all have a negative effect on low self-esteem.

Different personalities are more prone to problems with self-esteem. Some people set a high bar for personal achievement which they cannot reach. Others are naturally drawn towards negative thinking.

Low Self-Esteem and the Quality of Life

The culmination of these things will also eventually impact the quality of a person’s life in these and other ways.

Negative Feelings – focusing on perpetual criticism may lead to depression, shame, guilt, sadness, anxiety, or anger.

Relationship Problems – Relationships are affected by issues with low self-esteem in a number of different ways. For instance, some people may not feel good or confident enough to be worthy of another person’s love.

Therefore, they may be over compensating to feel in the gap. Or, on the other hand, a person with low self-esteem may be more apt to bully others or become angry at the world.

Fear of Trying – Someone with low-self esteem may avoid even the smallest challenges. Since they doubt their abilities to achieve different things, they may avoid signing up for anything that can present any form of competition.

Perfectionism – to atone for the shortcomings in their mind, they may also see themselves as an over achiever to replace the feelings of inferiority.

Fear of Judgement – Because people with low self-steem are afraid of being judged by others, they tend to avoid social activities like sports. Since the person may feel stressed and self-conscious, they prefer to skip these social settings altogether.

Low Resilience – Because a person with low self-esteem sees themselves as hopeless, it is a lot more difficult for them to deal with virtually any challenging events.

Lack of Self-Care – Based on the severity of these problems, they may even neglect the proper care of themselves. For instance, in some cases, they may drown their sorrows by drinking too much.

Self-harming behaviors – a person with low self-esteem may be at risk of causing harm to themselves. For instance, they may either eat too much, abuse drugs, or threaten to commit suicide.

Is Low Self-esteem a mental health problem?

Low self-esteem is not considered to be any type of mental health problem within itself. However, some mental health problems and low self-esteem may be closely tied together.

This is because some of the same or similar signs can be found in both, particularly if low esteem has a negative long-term effect on a person’s daily lifestyle. Here is an example of the link between the two.

  • Hopeless or Worthless feelings
  • Blaming yourself unfairly
  • Worry about not being unable to do things
  • Self Hate

The link between low-self esteem and mental health tends to be very close in nature. This is primarily because mental health problems may cause the signs and symptoms of low self-esteem.

Common Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Authority Figure Disapprovals

When people grow up in an environment that only reinforces negative self-images, it is a good chance that nothing was ever good enough for the authority figure. In these situations, there was no room for confidence or comfort since the criticism never stopped. Therefore, it is difficult to achieve and receive the accolades that are needed to avoid problems with low self-esteem.

Preoccupied / Uninvolved Caregivers

Another source of low esteem problems, for some people, comes from parents and other caregivers being preoccupied with other things in their life.

Because of these situations, they may fail to teach and encourage their children to achieve more than the norm or the average.
In essence, if parents do not encourage their children to strive for more, they tend to settle for less than they can actually do.

And unfortunately, these same habits and feelings of low self esself-esteemtually carry over into other things that they are tasked with during college and on the job.

Authority Figures in Conflict

Children tend to also absorb negative emotions and distrust in their everyday surroundings. This is especially true when their parents and other caregivers are constantly fighting or making the other feel bad emotionally.

Based on the way that these kids internalize the conflict that they are also subjected to, they may begin to model these negative emotions in the things that they do.

For instance, if one parent is hurt emotionally and constantly put down, these negative situations may directly or indirectly affect the way people see themselves, too.

Bullying with Parents who are Unsupportive

Whenever a child is bullied by someone at school or home, the negative ramifications can be far-reaching.

Also, if the child does not have the proper support in the home from their parents, their self-esteem can easily be severely damaged. For instance, the feeling of hopeless and abandonment can also lead to other problems like befriending anyone who pretends to be their friend. Particularly, since they do not feel worthy enough to choose their friends selectively.

Bullying with Parents who are Over-supportive

Conversely, if the parents in the home are over-supportive to a child that is bullied, the child may be unprepared to face the harshness of a cruel world. For instance, if the child is not taught how to stand up and deal with the bullying at the time, the sheltering from the parents can create other problems.

In some incidents, this may mean that the adult can carry low-self esteem and shame around with them throughout as a secret that they do not want anyone else to know.

Bullying and Uninvolved Parents

If the bullying was completely ignored and made light of by parents or caregivers, it may leave the child with feelings of loneliness and unworthiness of attention. Based on the situation and the results of things that occurred, the person may feel pain, and anger of being short-changed.

No Caregiver Support for Academic Challenges

One of the most common sources of destroying a child’s self-esteem is failing or falling behind in school. Unfortunately, when these things occur, the child (without caregiver support) may be left with the impression that they are too dumb, to learn like other kids.


The trauma of not being able to protect a child from sexual, emotional or physical abuse is another problem that leads to low self-esteem.
As an adult, these experiences can leave feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing, and conflict that makes the person believe that it was their fault these things happened.

Belief Systems

If not handled properly, some belief systems may place the child in a perpetual state of conflict. For instance, if the belief systems in the family are impossible to meet, there is further disapproval from the authority figures in the home.

Society and the Media

Measuring up to society’s newly packaged airbrushed image is not just about unrealistic images, it’s an epidemic that’s negatively impacting the youth all over the globe.

In fact, it is one of the main reasons why many of the youth are struggling with low self-esteem and inadequacy in record numbers today.

We hope this article was able to answer your questions about: What causes low self-esteem?

If you want to discover more information about improving self-esteem, follow the link to our other pages on this topic.