• Staff Writer

Low Self-Esteem and Anxiety

Low self-esteem may seem like it would correlate with depression more so than anxiety, but you’d be surprised by the strong link between the latter. As self-esteem impacts one’s perceived value, having a low view of oneself decreases motivation and control. Those struggling with low self-esteem have a higher chance of facing anxiety and vice versa. When someone faces anxiety, they may feel out of control, and that lacking can lead to a lessened self-view. Understanding the connection between low self-esteem and anxiety is essential when seeking treatment.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uneasiness. It can lead to dread and panic. Anxiety symptoms can be both psychological and physical such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and shaking. When that emotion is lasting and overwhelming, it is an anxiety disorder. Anxiety stems from many things, and there is not one sole cause. In many cases, anxiety can be brought on by a lack of confidence. Worrying about what others think of you and lacking pride in yourself can stir up feelings of anxiety. The opposite is true as well. Even with higher self-esteem, a recurrence of anxiety can make someone question themselves and their abilities. When anxiety gets in the way of everyday tasks or meeting goals, it can be paralyzing, leading to lower self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

What Is Low Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem, in general, is how you feel about yourself. It is the value and respect you feel and show to yourself. When you have low self-esteem, you don’t view yourself highly. You may feel uncomfortable in your body, in your abilities, or your intellect. When someone struggles with low self-esteem, it can be caused by prior trauma, dysfunctional relationships, and can even be solely internal. This struggle is portrayed through a lack of effort, self-sabotage, and even substance abuse. Anxiety can form a symptom of low self-esteem.

The Link Between Low Self-Esteem and Anxiety

There is no arguing that low self-esteem and anxiety share a strong relationship. This is relevant to education, work, and relationships. Research suggests that those with low self-esteem leading to anxiety have a decreased quality of life and a greater chance of developing suicidal ideation. Anxiety and low self-esteem lead to negative self-talk and upsetting thoughts. These intrusive feelings can lead to a drop in performance, lack of sleep, substance abuse, and more serious mental health problems. Some signs that you are struggling with both low self-esteem and anxiety are:

Fear of rejection. If you are scared of dating, applying for jobs, or even putting yourself out there to make friends or make small talk, you are likely struggling with a major fear of rejection. The possibility of being turned down not only makes you feel unworthy of acceptance but is often disliked. You crave acceptance from others and base your self-esteem on how you perceive they feel about you. Continually following this pattern of fear-based relationships and self-doubt leads to anxiety and a lack of self-respect. Hesitancy. Low self-esteem ignites paralyzing fear that prevents you from taking both large and small chances. You may be afraid to try something new, meet new people, or go out of your comfort zone in the slightest. This is avoidance and is strongly correlated with anxiety but often linked to low self-esteem as well. You don’t want to miss out on fun experiences, but the fear you have of failing, embarrassing yourself, or feeling unsafe or unsure prevents you from doing things you’d otherwise enjoy. Overthinking. Overthinking isn’t just overanalyzing past and future situations but meditating on them until you’ve convinced yourself you did or will do something wrong. You replay scenarios in your mind. Even if something went well, you think about it so much you believe it didn’t go well. These thoughts plow over any positive feelings or hope. Overthinking encourages you to judge yourself and count on feedback from others to fuel your self-esteem. These lead to further self-esteem issues and play into anxiety's control over you.

Need for perfection. No one is perfect, and even though you are aware of that, the need to present an ideal view of yourself can be overwhelming. Rather than focusing on your successes and positive qualities, you pick your weaknesses and let them define you. This means you focus on parts of yourself that need to be fixed rather than celebrating your good characteristics. This constant desire to perfect yourself leads to anxiety because you are never at rest or comfortable in your skin.

Treating Low Self-Esteem and Anxiety

Treating low self-esteem and anxiety go hand in hand. Often caring for one can reduce the other. Because they are so connected, facing anxious moments and coming out of them feeling okay can improve your self-esteem, and enhancing your self-view can decrease your anxiety.

Both of these are best handled with the care of mental health professionals. They will provide you with the care needed to retrain your brain. Instead of overthinking, losing control, or reliving the past, a therapist can help you practice living in the moment.

If you can enjoy your life moment to moment, self-esteem and anxiety have less power over you and your behavior. As you generate new tools for handling stress and unhappy moments, you build yourself back up. You start to see your growth through a reduction of anxiety and an increase of confidence, which pushes you forward.

Low self-esteem is not something to roll your eyes at. It is something many people seek therapy to work on. This is because it leaks into so many other aspects of life. When you have a low level of self-respect, you don’t believe you deserve love or attention. That means you overanalyze positive moments and convince yourself things are not as good as they may be. This leads to anxiety that gets in the way of personal growth and experience. As anxiety increases, your self-esteem only lowers more so due to fear. Developing the skills to address low self-esteem and anxiety is vital for healing and growth. Seeking help from a professional will help you overcome struggles and gain strength and confidence in yourself. At California Care Detox & Treatment, we provide one-on-one therapy and peer meetings to help you discover your fortitude and determination. Call us at (949) 281-0632 to begin your journey to self-love.

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