Both your perception of yourself and your feelings about yourself compose your self-esteem. You may like yourself, feel neutral about yourself, or you may criticize yourself. There are times when you may feel that you are mostly good or mostly or all bad. Sometimes you may think you can contribute, or you may feel worthless. Remember that all of us have good and not so good traits, and people are rarely perfect or all bad. 

High self-esteem is inherently light and uplifting. Low self-esteem is insidious and may affect all aspects of your life. Persons with low self-esteem tend to suffer from self-destructive behaviors, self-defeating behaviors, irrational thinking, and trouble developing and maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships. To rate your self-esteem, complete this free, online self-assessment from the National Association for Self-Esteem. Crises of self-esteem are inherent parts of the human experience. If low self-esteem troubles you, you might find that one of the National Association for Self-Esteem’s Self-Esteem Boosters helps you feel better about yourself. Review some of the common barriers to self-esteem listed below. Choose items relevant to your situation and work on them. Be patient with yourself. Change takes time and steadfast work.

Barriers to self-esteem

Negative self-talk

People often criticize themselves harshly. Many people treat strangers or enemies better than they treat themselves. If you find that you talk negatively to yourself, try following the “Best Friend Rule” that advises never to say anything to yourself that you would not say in all sincerity to your best friend.

“Shoulding” all over yourself

You might set yourself up for dissatisfaction with your life or your situation. If you say things like, “I should,” “If only,” “What if,” “Yeah, but,” or “I can’t,” you’re telling yourself that right now is not good enough and would be better if you could change something. Thinking this way is harmful because it does not allow you to enjoy your current situation.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Whenever we compare ourselves to someone else, we say to ourselves that we either are not as good as they are…or that we are better than they are. Both of these are harmful for they keep the comparisons going, and eventually, you are bound to come up short.

Self-Esteem and Ego


(The way you feel about yourself based on your genuine values and true aspects of yourself.)


(The way you feel about yourself based on superficial qualities such as the way you look, the grades you make, the friends you have, or the amount of money you have.)

Internal External
Genuine Superficial
Secure Insecure
Values Materialistic
Introspective Comparative
Stable Fleeting
Inherently uplifting Inherently weighty due to pressures of maintaining