Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. Another way of putting it is about individuals having a deep conviction and feeling in their own importance and value as a person, irrespective of their performance and behaviour.
Working with clients with low self esteem issues isn’t uncommon in Coaching. There are a number of possible tools that may help identify the causes of low self esteem, and some that help “find” or bolster self esteem that has temporarily been lost.
These are tools that help the Coach identify in more depth the issues and challenges the client is facing with self esteem, before moving onto possible ways of working with them to understand where things go wrong, and how they can react differently:
- Asking someone starting work in Coaching about the whole of themselves is a useful and probably essential part of the initial session. The “whole” person has evolved from life experience, so for both the client and the Coach, telling and hearing the life story is one way to begin to understand the client’s world.
- It’s important to take care with this tool, and not to stray too far into interpretative aspects, but it can unearth important aspects of where aspects of low self esteem originate from, whether recent or longer standing
- It’s also important to stress the Coaching approach here, rather than more of a therapeutic approach. In the latter, it may be enough to bring issues around low self esteem to the persons awareness to be able to “work through”, but in a Coaching context its more about an action orientation; e.g. using CBT techniques in troubling situations the client faces
- For more information on how to use the Autobiography tool, click here
Self confidence assessment
- A series of questions to help the client (which could be done at a session or independent of a session and brought to talk through)
- Covers areas such as: what is self confidence; where do you struggle with it? What are your coping mechanisms?
- To view an example template of the Self Confidence Review, click here
- Or alternatively, complete the Mind Tools self confidence questionnaire
Practical Working exercises
A CBT technique that helps clients challenge difficult situations they encounter by taking them through a 5 step process of challenging negative thoughts and feelings, and thinking about difficult situations in a more balanced and realistic way
- To convince yourself that you’re a successful person who can continue to achieve great things, it may be helpful to take some time and reflect on all your achievements and what matters to you. This exercise commits people to acknowledging their achievements through looking at their values, their skills and attributes, and tangible and intangible achievements
- Part of the sustaining part of the work is for the client to keep the exercise close at hand to refer back to over time
The Anchoring technique works on the basis of using an “anchor feeling” of positivity, especially when faced with a difficult situation. It requires the client to select a feeling they would like to have in a particular situation and create a physical “anchor” of that feeling that they can go back to when they need to
- A driver is a part of us that believes if we behave in a certain way then we will do well, avoid problems and earn the respect of others (e.g. hurry up, be perfect, please people). There are five characteristic working styles, called “Drivers”, and each of us tends to have a preference for one or two particular styles, taken from Transactional Analysis theory
- Whilst our driver can sometimes be strength, under stress it can severely limit our capacity to be effective. The more stressed we get, the more we get locked into compulsive driver behaviour. This exercise requires people to find their key and secondary driver, and work out some improvement strategies
Also, see article on Meditation techniques