The Most Common Problem: Low Self Esteem

  • You don’t speak up when you know you should.
  • You often feel guilty about disappointing someone else.
  • You aren’t sure you can do something new, so you decide not to try it.
  • You let others take advantage of you.
  • You are sometimes shy about letting people get to know you.
  • You often don’t let others know what you want or how you feel.


  • You have a deep feeling that you might be superior to other people.
  • You pride yourself on doing everything just right.
  • You are ashamed when you make a mistake or don’t succeed.
  • You are good at what you do but you sometimes feel like a fraud.
  • You are quite impatient when you have to wait your turn.
  • You are careful not to reveal too much about yourself.

Do any of the above statements describe what you feel and do? While everyone may feel some of those feelings now and then, all together the statements are representative of two distinct patterns of low self esteem. In simple low self esteem, the person feels inferior to others. The second group describes the pattern called narcissism. In narcissism, the person feels superior to others, but this is a coverup for insecurity about his or her own self-worth. Not feeling valuable, precious, and lovable is probably the most common problem which therapists eventually encounter after they ask a new patient, “What brings you in?”

People may say, “I’ve been feeling stressed out lately,” or “I think I might be depressed,” or even “My wife is leaving me,” or many other initial complaints, but often the root issue is the person’s innermost feeling about himself. It is also frequently a profound cause of relationship difficulties. Fixing self esteem problems does not happen overnight, but collaborating with a skilled therapist individually or in a group can work wonders and make a tremendous improvement in a person’s overall happiness and quality of life.

Dr. Alaire Lowry

Dr. Alaire Lowry

A board-certified psychologist providing individual, couple and group therapy for adults. She also works with adolescents and families.

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