Self-Esteem

Self-esteem for College Students and Young Adults

Additional Resources

If you would like to speak with a Wellness Educator/Counselor about self-esteem, please call (603) 862-3823 or make an appointment online.

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself.

People with high self-esteem:

  • Feel good about themselves, most of the time.
  • Respect themselves.
  • Take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and actions.
  • Tend to think of mistakes or problems as chance to grow and change.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Show good judgment.
  • Demonstrate good problem-solving skills.
  • Maintain healthy, close relationships.
  • Have confidence in new situations.
  • Try new things with courage and zest.
  • Are trustworthy.
  • Are self-motivated.
  • Are open to feedback.
  • Aren’t afraid to seek goals that may be challenging.

People with low self-esteem:

  • Don’t believe in themselves.
  • Often seek approval from others.
  • Participate in things at others requests.
  • View mistakes or problems as personal failures and internalize these failures as a reflection of their selves.
  • Have a negative attitude.
  • Have poor judgment.
  • Possess poor problem-solving skills.
  • Have unhappy relationships.
  • Are nervous in new situations.
  • Don’t stand up for themselves, their values or beliefs.
  • Let other people take advantage of them.
  • Have difficulty saying “no.”
  • Tend to be self critical of their body, behavior and life.

Low self-esteem can lead to:

  • Excessive worry
  • Depression
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use/abuse
  • Eating concerns
  • Suicide
  • Poor body image 
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Making unhealthy sexual health decisions 
  • Anger and agressive behavior

Who and what influences our self-esteem?

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Teachers, coaches, caregivers
  • The media
  • Strangers
  • Experiences

From the moment of birth, our self-esteem begins to take shape by what others think about us and how we are treated. Family members and caregivers are powerful influences on shaping our early self-esteem. As children, we didn’t have the ability to critique messages or form our own opinions of ourselves. We saw ourselves through the eyes of others.

If we were treated positively, valued and nurtured as children, chances are we have high self-esteem.

If we were neglected, given negative messages, such as being told we were “stupid” or “bad,” chances are we have lower self-esteem.

Though childhood provides the foundation for our self-esteem, it is hoped as we get older and gain a sense of self that external influences have less impact on our self-esteem.

How can I change my self-esteem?

  • Let go of negative messages we received as children
  • Notice and stop negative self talk 
    Don’t call yourself, “dumb,” “fat,” “ugly,” “weak,” “a failure,” “an idiot”
  • Notice the things you like about yourself
  • You can work to change the things you don’t like about yourself
  • There is no such thing as being perfect, so let go of that idea
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Think openly and critically about feedback from others
  • Don’t base your self-worth on messages from the media
  • Raising self-esteem takes time, patience and hard work. It’s not easy, but it can be done!
  • Develop a sense of who you are as an individual.
  • Surround yourself with people who care and support you for who you are