I feel unconfident

What is healthy self-esteem?

Find out more about self-esteem and why you might feel this way...


What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem- what does that even mean?! Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, such as what we believe about who we are as a person. If we feel good about who we are and our personal qualities, this can be referred to as 'healthy self-esteem'. If we find it hard to feel good about ourselves, this can be a sign that we have 'low self-esteem' or may be struggling with our sense of self.

Scroll down to learn more about self-esteem, as well as ways to boost your self-confidence!

All of this information has been drawn together with the help of young people.

These pages aim to help you to:

  • Learn more about 'healthy' and 'low' self-esteem,
  • Learn what kind of things improve your self-esteem,
  •  Understand how you can put some of these things in place in your life.

How do I know if I’ve got low/unhealthy self-esteem?

Good question! We all have times when we don’t feel great about ourselves.

If you have low self-esteem you may experience negative thoughts about yourself, such as:

Where is your self-esteem on the scale?

If 0 is low self-esteem and 10 is healthy self-esteem, where are you on the scale?

Very Bad
I'm OK

Why do I feel bad about myself?

There are lots of things that can cause us to have low self-esteem, some of these might be

  • If you have been/are being bullied
  • If you feel like you look or behave differently to everyone else
  • If you have had a bad experience

Some people are just more likely to feel bad about themselves than others, this can be because of their upbringing, their personality and their outlook on life.

Have a look below to learn more about when and where your self-esteem can be affected.


What if I'm not sure why I feel bad about myself?

Self-esteem can feel different at different times. This can depend on what you are doing, who you are with and where you are.

In some places, you might feel confident and good about yourself. In others, you might feel nervous and think bad thoughts about yourself.

Where do I struggle with my confidence?

Have a think about where/when you feel best about yourself and where/when you feel worst. This can help you to understand whether you only feel bad about yourself in certain situations, or whether it happens all the time.

Fill in the checkboxes to show the areas in your life where you don't feel so confident. 

You are not alone

Watch this video to hear other stories about self-esteem from young people.

Click on the self prescription below to find out how you can manage your feelings!


Try our self prescription below now.

Find help, tips and ideas.

How can I feel better about myself?

We have put together a few useful resources on how to improve self-esteem.


Step 1. Try something new

One thing that can boost self-esteem is doing something you are good at or enjoy. If you don’t currently have a hobby like that, then why not try something new?

You could join an art club, start learning to play an instrument, try yoga or learn to fly a plane ….(that last one might be a bit tricky…..)

Step 2. Challenge Your Thoughts:

A big part of low self-esteem can be thinking or feeling bad things about yourself. It’s really important to try and challenge these thoughts. Often the thoughts are not really how other people see us.

Try noting down some bad thoughts you have about yourself. Then try and answer the following questions:

  • Do you have any information to show that this thought is true?
  • What would you say to a friend if they were thinking these things about themselves?
  • Are there any good things that come from these thoughts?
  • What are the bad things that come from these thoughts? E.g. does it stop you from doing things?
  • Is there another way you could look at the situation?

Step 3. Practice Acceptance

NEWS FLASH: It’s OK to be exactly as you are!

Sometimes it can be hard for us to accept the things that we feel make us different. These things are what we should celebrate, it’s great that we aren’t all the same!

A big part of acceptance can also be learning that you might not be good at everything. Failing at something can be hard but it usually teaches us something!

It can also be hard to accept that not everyone may like you. Of course, you are wonderful, perfect and brilliant but that doesn’t mean Lucy who works in Tesco on the corner has to like you. It’s ok not to be everyone’s friend as long as there are some people you trust.

Step 4. Say no to bullies!

Bullying covers lots of different things; it could be:

  • someone physically hurting you,
  • someone saying horrible things or threatening you,
  • someone always excluding you from things and isolating you.

Accepting yourself can be tough if you have been bullied.

It’s important to know you’re not alone. A study by the charity Ditch The Label found that 1/5 of young people had been bullied in 2018-19. That’s a lot of people and it’s really not ok.

If you are being bullied, it’s important to tell someone you trust so that you can get support. Some types of bullying are illegal and it’s important that someone else can help you deal with this.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to, look up local support that is available in your area. You can also call Childline free on 0800 1111 to speak to someone.


Step 5. Be kind to yourself

When your self-esteem is low it’s really important to look after yourself.

Try writing down some things that you like about yourself or a list of things you are good at/have achieved.

Put this list on the wall somewhere where you will see it every day.

Each week set a reminder on your phone and take some time to think about these good things.

If you feel brave you can try looking at yourself in the mirror and saying something nice to yourself each morning. Here are some ideas of things you could say:

  • I believe in myself
  • I’m a good friend
  • I love who I am
  • I don’t need to be perfect
  • I am happy being me

Step 6. Get help!

Low self-esteem isn’t a mental health condition itself, however, it can lead to mental health difficulties if lots of things affect your self-esteem over a long time.

If you are feeling very low or anxious and you feel this way all the time or it is affecting your day to day life, it’s important to speak to your GP.

There are some services that can help you but it’s a good idea to speak to someone you trust first so that you have some support in your day to day life.


Get Help

If you feel that your low self-esteem is getting in the way of your day to day life, it may be a good idea to get some help.

Click here to find mental health support services in your area

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