It’s natural to feel insecure about our bodies or personalities from time to time. Maybe a change in weight, life event or poor decision has led to a bout of self-doubt or embarrassment. However, sometimes those feelings can take hold and leave us with an overwhelming negative sense of self. Dealing with a negative self-image can be costly in terms of mental, physical and social well-being.
What Is Negative Self-Image?
Negative self-image refers to someone’s ideas about themselves. This ties directly to self-esteem, specifically low self-esteem, in which someone does not believe in themselves. Negative self-image or negative self-esteem can develop at any point in adulthood and sometimes during adolescence and/or childhood, as well. Poor self-esteem is not chronic, but it can lead to dramatic lifelong results.
Why Do Some People Have Low Self-Esteem?
There is never just one reason someone has a poor self-image. Many factors can contribute to someone’s feelings about themselves. Some of the reasons for changes in self-esteem include:
- Trauma or a recent accident
- Unhealthy romantic relationship
- Change or loss of a job or career
- Loss of a loved one
- Financial stress
- A break-up
- Weight change
- A significant life event, such as marriage, moving or pregnancy
- Troublesome childhood
Someone experiencing persistent low self-image may identify one or many of these factors as contributors to their current attitude about life. When a negative thing happens to us, or multiple negative things (a car accident and death of a loved one, for example), it can seem like we are the problem. We think “bad things happen to bad people,” and we become self-defeating and unhappy with ourselves. However, this is not the truth, and a persistent negative self-image is not healthy for anyone.
The Cost of a Negative Self-Image
A Negative self-image can cause ongoing problems in almost all areas of life. In the most basic terms, a negative self-image can affect the following:
- Emotional regulation
- Physical well-being
- Mental health
- Ability to focus
- Perception of reality
- Professional responsibilities
- Personal life
If left untreated, a negative self-image can lead to more chronic conditions such as anxiety, depression or addiction. Scientists have even linked low self-esteem to health problems, stagnancy and higher levels of stress hormones. Additional problems brought about by low self-esteem can include suicidal thoughts or attempts, social withdrawal, difficulty performing well in a career and unhealthy relationships.
The consequences of low self-esteem are so pervasive that it’s almost impossible to experience a persistent negative self-image without it affecting more than one area of your life. This is why it is of utmost important to seek help for a negative self-image before it presents more serious problems, which can be chronic and even life-threatening.
I Have a Negative Self-Image: What Can I Do?
If you or a loved one suffers from a consistent negative self-image, there is help for long-term relief. Seeking counseling and ongoing treatment is highly suggested. Professional insight can be very helpful when it comes to targeting the causes of your low self-esteem, determining the changes necessary (if any) for your lifestyle and figuring out how to prevent and treat low self-esteem in the future.
Professional treatment is the most effective way to treat emotional, mental and physical well-being simultaneously. The process can be confusing and overwhelming, so please consult a professional about your personal struggle with a negative self-image.
Once you feel better about yourself and have achieved a positive self-image, the world will likely seem a bit more welcoming, and you will be more confident in your abilities to overcome any challenges that come your way. Call us today to learn more about how therapy can help with a negative self-image.