Chronic Low Self Esteem: Understanding Its Impact


low self esteem

Staff Blogger,

If you have ever known a person with chronic low self esteem, you will not find it hard to remember them. This is the person who was extremely manipulative, insecure and toxic. According to them, everyone was always to blame for what ever was wrong in their life. Any new person you introduced to them was like “new meat”. They would judge, criticize and do anything to make themselves feel better about themselves because they felt like that person was “better than them”. In fact, funny enough, people with chronic low self esteem will often say, about other people, “she thinks she’s better than me (or us)”. This is just their insecurity talking.

It seems obvious that if you know a person like this, you would just get away from them and stay away from them! But what if they are someone you love dearly or they are a very close relative? Most importantly, what if you are that person?

The first step to overcoming chronic low self esteem is to start to understand it and its impact.

Impact of Low Self-Esteem Low self-esteem has its roots in a number of life circumstances. If you come from a family of origin in which your Mom and/or Dad had problems with: alcohol; drugs; mental illness; inability to show warmth and affection; being overly critical; rigidity of religious belief; or workaholism, then in all likelihood, your self-esteem suffered. If you were physically, emotionally, verbally or sexually abused or neglected by: a parent; a brother or sister; an adult caregiver; your spouse or lover; or a friend, your self-esteem was lowered. If, in a relationship with a parent, a family member or a spouse, you worked hard to overcome the other person’s irresponsibility, yet no matter what you did, it was “never good enough” to fix the other person’s problems, this `”codependent” relationship negatively affected your self-esteem. If, on the other hand, you were dependent on another person to make things right for you, your self-esteem was also hurt. If you were ever in a relationship at home, school, work or in the community that was disastrous and marked by ill feelings and bad will, your self-esteem was impacted negatively. If you or a close family member have a developmental disability or chronic illness, your self-esteem was lowered. If you have ever experienced a personal failure like a failing grade; dropping out of school; losing a job; bankruptcy; or divorce, your self-esteem suffered and was lowered.


  1. Pingback: Chronic Low Self Esteem: Understanding Its Impact | Healthy Black Woman « Habari Gani, America!

  2. Dr Ricardo scott on

    I beg of you–get rid of these stupid,immature bloggers who can’t write a decent article of interest to intelligent black is atrocious that in the year 2013 to have folks posing as writers and bothers with no record of achievement. Please please please bloggers remember that the general public is not your running buddy or your BOO!

      • I read an article on called “Model of Self-Esteem”. It was a beautifully written piece which seemed to cover every angle of low self-esteem and how to combat it. As a Mental Health Professional I have come across many of these same concepts. The article talks about a buddy system and sharing your true feelings with a trusted therapist and gives you steps to correct your counter productive and unhealthy feelings. I have experienced feelings of low self-esteem in my life and freely admit that I have some unhealthy behaviors. However, I think that is part of the human condition. I find a lot of mental health programs to be excellent in theory but somewhat cookie cutter in reality. Not everyone is going to fit into the model approach or belief of what is considered to be “healthy”. Throughout my various bouts with some counterproductive feelings, I have always felt worthy and valuable. I have never violated anyone’s rights due to my troubles or ill feelings. Some mental health programs do not take into account the mental condition of the therapist, the buddy in the buddy system or any other person involved in the treatment of the patient. This article goes on to say that a person with low self-esteem blames others for their problems. I agree that the patient should be accountable for his/her own behavior, but what needs to be addressed here is the culpability of others that may legitimate to the patients condition, such as bullies or a system of intimidation and coercion. An individual may be a very good person who does not fit into the mold of what society believes is normal. Should that individual be reprogrammed to fit the model of society? Should they be bullied and stripped of their individuality? This type of approach can lead to further depression. There will always be mentally ill people because society will dismiss these people and invalidate their truth whether that truth is real, apparent, explicit or implicit. Maybe that is the point because everyone needs a job, even Mental Health Professionals.

      • Phillip Battle on

        Thank you staff– for having the love and concern to address such an important condition that isn’t being addressed on a scale that would make a difference in our communities.
        Unfortunately– the syndrome of the brain thinks it’s more important then the heart,and the arm is more instrumental then the leg– as we know the butt laughs at all of them. I say that to say this – when one reveals ( or should I gloat in) what they studied in school’s and achieved a degree are two – what good are they if they don’t apply it to a greater use other than blowing their mute horn as though they are in the fore front of contributing to the cause of stirring us out of this darkness of ignorance and dependency on others in order to survive- in this GREEDY SOCIETY IN WHICH WE LIVE ?

        So again——- THANK YOU STAFF.

        • Phillip, I share in your gratitude to the staff. I am grateful that this issue is being discussed. One of the reasons is because it brings to light some of the problems that people with mental illness have. People look at them and say, “what good are they if…”, as you have stated in your comment. Just because someone has a different opinion does not mean they do not have a heart. Just because someone is educated does not mean that they have money. I agree with you that there are sick people in all levels of society. I have seen mental health professionals who are dependent on anti-psychotic medications as well as others in society whom some may consider privileged. I actually decided to become a nurse (and I hope when I say that that no one thinks I am bragging or gloating) because from the time that I was a child I had experience with people who were close to me who were afflicted with that disease. I have concern for those who are dependent or are on disability because of how they are perceived by society. Although outwardly they me seem fine or are educated, (this illness has nothing to do with intelligence, there are actors, politicians, etc. with this disease) no one really knows what inner turmoil another person is going through. Especially when they are viewed by others as weak, dependent or even that they are trying to get over on the system. Mental Illness is a disease, which is very complex in nature. People with this illness have additional issues because they feel that they are constantly being hated on and judged by others. It has been written, who among us will cast the first stone?

  3. Phillip Battle on

    The most informative information that has graced the pages of any blog that has been posted. One should realize the Mental Illnesses that or prevalent in our communities– nevertheless those of all other ethnic groups— it is most imperative for us as a community to address the disease of mental illness.
    This epidemic is a crossed the board– we ought make the mistake of thinking that mental illness only affect poor folk — there are those Black folk with capital-who are just as sick or sicker than the poor Black person who didn’t’ have the opportunity to be helped with the disease of mental illness.

    • Phillip, thank you for your comment it helps to hear another person’s point of view. Whether someone has a degree or not. I think that everyone’s opinion has value and that everyone’s experience counts. I don’t feel that because someone has a different opinion that they should be invalidated or dismissed because someone else feels that their opinion does not have value or maybe does not contribute to society in a way that other’s believe they should. This is part of the problem with people who have mental health issues. They become mute for fear that their feelings or views will not be well received and that no matter what achievements they have made they will be scorned or obstructed because of their beliefs. The experience of every individual has value and is unique whether they are a professional or not. A person can be well educated but for personal reasons may not be able to contribute to society in the same way as others, but just by the fact that they are sharing their experiences in an honest way is in my book the greatest contribution that one can make, especially if it helps someone else in the same position who is unable or afraid to speak for themselves. Just because a person has a degree and has made an effort to share what they have learned or studied in school does not mean that they are gloating. I find that to be a huge problem in society, that some try to silence others who have just as much right to express what they believe regardless of where they learned it. How is our community supposed to come to any type of healing if when every time on tries to share they get accused of only stating their views because they are self-important or a bragger. This is another problem, in my view, if I am allowed to express my views, and the reason why there are limited viewpoints about what should be the best program for individuals who do not fit in to specific categories of mental illness and why the available treatments may not be the right fit for everyone. What does someone who may have a different perspective have to do to be heard? Should they become a conformist in order not to have the finger pointed at them? Or should they have the same right as anyone else to contribute what they are able, (and only they truly know what they are able regardless of how others judge them) with out having to worry about being shut down.

  4. Phillip Battle on

    @ Ms. Pattycake— to clear the air of gloating- your natural love for humanity I can hear in your voice- may God bless you with good health and many days on his earth.

      • Phillip Battle on

        Why Nobodys paying attention to Black Folk these days, including our – so called Leaders- Glen Ford. This post is in need of your input.
        @Healthy Black Woman—

        May this information find you in the best of health.

        • Phillip Battle on

          With all due respect to the staff of Healthy Black Woman- Mind Body and Souls, and all the family who support the site– I recommended an article to Pattycake RN– that’s on a different site-and elected not to mention its name on this site– again I apologies for my poor judgement.

          Peace Family

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