- "The new bible of self-esteem, a classic," says Robert
Lubow, M.D. psychiatrist, Cincinnati, Ohio.
- "The best book ever written on self-esteem," says Sandra
K. Pinches, Ph.D., psychologist, Portland, Oregon.
- "Highly recommended." The Midwest Book Review
1. What is Low Self-Esteem?
• Low self-esteem is actually a thinking disorder in which an individual views (thinks of) himself as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent—thinking that permeates every aspect of a person’s life.
- LSE is an irrational and distorted view of self that affects the person’s assumptions, interpretations, perceptions, conclusions & beliefs about himself or herself as well as others. This can result in a person being very critical of self and others and/or using poor judgment in decision-making.
- Once thinking is formed, emotions and feelings follow
that also irrational and distorted, causing the person to have difficulty knowing who and when
to trust, inciting fear and trepidation in new situations in which a person
may not know what is expected of him or where a woman remains in a job she
hates or in a relationship that is destructive because she doubts her ability
to do better.
- Fearful of looking like a fool, the person may become tentative and avoid
new activities or experiences altogether, thereby impeding growth and development
that comes from trying and learning new skills.
- As a result of that fear and anxiety that accompanies LSE, those with
low self-esteem will have bouts of anxiety and panic that are actually self-esteem
attacks, brought on by thinking that he or she has done or said something
inappropriate that no one else would have said or done.
- When those with LSE believe that they are inadequate, unacceptable to
others, unworthy, unlovable, and or incompetent, the they may withdraw from
opportunities, settle for less than is deserved, give up dreams, forfeit
goals, engage in unhealthy and chaotic relationships, and behave in other
ways that are self-defeating—throughout life.
- Those with LSE think that others see their inadequacies and other negative aspects and are therefore as critical of them as they are themselves. If a woman with LSE thinks her hair is a mess, she things everyone else thinks similarly. If a man thinks he is not very attractive, he assumes that others are thinking that when they are around him.
Watch The Video: From Suicide to a Second Chance at Life (in 3 parts)
• Low Self-Esteem ALWAYS forms in childhood when the individual is developing an initial view of how he or she, as a person, fits into the world. This process begins at birth and may continue to be cemented up to age 8 or 10.
- LSE forms as a result of the child’s early experiences. If a child feels
loved, is treated lovingly, is supported, encouraged, gets positive attention,
is taught skills, is given appropriate freedom to make choices, senses that
those in his environment think he has value, is listened to by parents and
others in his environment, he is likely to form healthy self-esteem. If on
the other hand, the child is mistreated, harshly disciplined, overly criticized,
put down, embarrassed and or humiliated, unsupported, kept isolated, left
alone for long periods of time, she will likely develop low self-esteem.
- Other factors that can cause low self-esteem to develop are verbal, sexual,
emotional, and physical abuse, illness of the child or a parent that causes
the other parent to be unavailable.
- To recover from this devastating issue, it is necessary to understand where
and how one has developed low self-esteem. For this reason, in 2002, Dr.
Sorensen wrote The Personal Workbook for Breaking the
Chain of Low Self-Esteem.
Few who’ve gone through her first two books have remained unable to identify
how they developed low self-esteem. Those still in question recognize it
when they enter into therapy with her.
3. Why do therapists have so little understanding of what low self-esteem is or how to treat low self-esteem?
• Unfortunately, therapists are not taught about the significance of low self-esteem nor of the seriousness of its impact on individual’s lives.
- Low self-esteem should be included in the diagnostic manual (that is
utilized by all therapists to determine diagnoses). Instead, LSE is frequently
cited as merely a symptom of over 30 disorders, which Dr. Sorensen believes
is in most incidences, backwards: She believes that low self-esteem is the
foundation from which many of those disorders derive.
- For this reason, in 2001, Dr. Sorensen wrote Low Self-Esteem:
Misunderstood & Misdiagnosed:
Why you may not find the help you need. (She began posing her hypothesis
to others in the mid 1990’s and now there are well over one million hits
on search engines concerning LSE as a disorder).
- In the fall of 2009, Dr. Sorensen was hired by Cross Country Education to present her views on low self-esteem to other mental health professionals nationwide. This is enabling her to educate therapists about what low self-esteem really is and how to treat it.
4. Can one recover from this issue? Even, if he or she is older? What is the process and how long does it take?
• Most definitely!! Anyone motivated to get over this problem can do so, if the person is determined, persevering, and has patience. Dr. Sorensen has developed the Sorensen Self-Esteem Recovery Program that has proven to be high effective in altering the thinking and ultimately the lives of those who suffer from LSE.
- Through Dr. Sorensen’s program, she can work with you in-person or by
Skype. She is also in the process of training other therapists around
the country who may be in your area. And, though we sometimes get behind,
we will continue to post on this website the names and the contact information
of all therapists who (if they are in private practice and able to take clients)
have taken Dr. Sorensen’s all-day training program as well as those who have
taken her 5, 10, and 15 hour sessions and have received certification from
The Self-Esteem Institute and Dr. Sorensen.
- Dr. Sorensen guides you to be able to recognize and then replace the distorted
and irrational thinking that accompanies low self-esteem and then reconstruct
those thoughts which are based only on fact, truth, and history.
- She considers her work with each a client a journey that they take together
in understanding and then correcting those destructive thoughts and emotions
that lead to depression and discouragement which result in poor choices,
decisions, and other self-sabotaging behavior.
- If you cannot afford to work with her directly, her program is spelled out in Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem, The Personal Workbook for Breaking the Chain of Low self-Esteem, Low Self-Esteem Misunderstood and Misdiagnosed, and The Toolkit, enabling you to work her program on your own or with occasional help from her.
• Take the Sorensen (Interactive) Self-Esteem Test on this page and other pages on this website. No one can see your answers.
- Ask yourself if you have a pattern of self-defeating behavior? If you
have a tendency to trust the wrong people or to make poor choices?
- Ask yourself if you are dissatisfied with your relationships and interactions
with other people.
- Ask yourself if you are or have been told that you are overly sensitive.
- Ask yourself if you are unhappy, depressed, and discouraged and have been
most of your life?
- Ask yourself if you are often anxious in new situations.
- Ask yourself if you are often fearful that you will be asked a question
you don’t know how to respond to, or will be asked to do something that
you don’t know how to do?
- Ask yourself if you feel that you lack confidence and the skills to do things
that most other people seem to know how to do.
- Ask yourself if you feel inadequate or unacceptable around others.
- Ask yourself if you are reluctant to share your ideas and opinions when
in groups (other then your best friends or even there).
- Ask yourself if you feel “needy”.
- Ask yourself if you often compare yourself to others to evaluate your progress
or sense of self-worth.
- Ask yourself if you often feel insecure.
These are but some of the symptoms of low self-esteem.
• Low self-esteem is a serious disorder that affects millions of people, destroying relationships, paralyzing people with fear and creating lives that will never reach their full potential, and leaving them off balance, needy, and unfilled.
- Both men and women suffer from low self-esteem. Though low self-esteem
has often been considered a women’s issue, it is not so. As many men as women
suffer from low self-esteem but feel more hesitant to admit it.
- People of ages, people from all cultures and ethnicities, people from all
occupations, people from all economic levels, people of all religions, people
from all political backgrounds, people who are educated and those who are
- Likely the majority of people on this earth suffer from low self-esteem.
- Most go untreated.
7. Can a person tell if others have low self-esteem?
• You can not necessarily tell that a person has low self-esteem because many who have low self esteem become experts at hiding their feelings and maintaining the appearance of control, even though this is not what they feel on the inside. In fact, many very successful people in high level careers actually suffer from low self-esteem, though only those close to them are aware of they have low self esteem.
Dr. Sorensen believes the following about low self-esteem:
- Low self-esteem is actually a thinking disorder in which an individual views himself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view of self permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.
- Low self-esteem should be included in the diagnostic manual (that is utilized by all therapists to determine diagnoses). Instead, it is frequently mentioned as a symptom of many other disorders, which is backwards: low self-esteem is the disorder, not merely the symptom.
- Low self-esteem always forms in childhood, when an individual is developing his initial view of himself and his attributes. Once formed, low self esteem cannot be overcome without going through a recovery process.
- A person cannot merely "raise" one's low self-esteem and transform it into healthy self-esteem. Instead a person has to learn to alter his basic view of self and transform his thinking and attitudes, which is not a simple process or a quick fix.
- Low self-esteem is a serious disorder that affects millions of people--both men and women--destroying their relationships, paralyzing them with fear, and creating lives that will never reach their full potential, leaving them off balance, needy, and unfulfilled.
- Unfortunately, like the general public, most therapists are misinformed about low self-esteem and it's consequences and therefore, don't know how to treat it. Many people go to therapy for this issue and leave feeling hopeless about their lives and disillusioned about therapy.
Books by Dr. Marilyn J Sorensen:
Available in either paperback, PDFs, or eReaders.
Want to start reading today? Download your copy of the new e-book versions of:
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Marie from Scotland
Why aren't more Therapists trained in the aspect low self esteem as it relates to mental health? Everything Sorensen says, makes perfect sense. I have never read a book which offers such insight into specific emotional problems. Sorensen's experience and insights "blew me away." Her insights at times seem more of a "telepathic nature," than that of a therapist. This woman could very easily "re-write" the whole therapeutic approach. So many more people would benefit, if she did!!
Once low self-esteem is formed, it can only be overcome
through a process of recovery. Dr. Sorensen has developed the only
known program to do that--one that is extremely effective
and is spelled out through the three books above.
Dr. Sorensen has made it her life's goal to observe
and study low self-esteem. As a result, she has been able to recognize
the causes, the symptoms, and the self-defeating patterns common to all
low self esteem sufferers.
Reading her books will enable you to understand:
- How and when low self-esteem develops
- The specific symptoms that accompany low self-esteem
- The wholly misunderstood "self-esteem
- The depth of fear and anxiety that low self esteem sufferers
- The patterns of self-defeating behavior that accompany low
- The devastatingly emotional turmoil caused by low self esteem
- The negative and irrational thinking patterns of those who
have low self esteem
- The ways in which low self esteem creates chaos in--and even
- The overall severity of low self esteem and how it stifles creativity, curtails ambition, kills dreams, and often promotes a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
and Trivialized by Society
The Impact of Low Self-Esteem In an Individual's Personal Life
Low Self-Esteem is a contributing factor in most cases involving:
- eating disorders
- domestic, teen, and gang violence
- addictive behaviors
- relationship problems
- child abuse
- social anxiety disorders
- communication problems
- sexual dysfunction
- sexual promiscuity
The Impact of Low Self-Esteem In an Individual's Relationships
are greatly affected by low self-esteem. Those
with low self-esteem tend to become either aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive
when threatened. They become defensive and argumentative or they withdraw
and isolate, behaviors which do not contribute to healthy communication.
Additionally, those with low self-esteem tend to be confused about who
and when to trust and often make poor choices in partners. Intimacy becomes
difficult to achieve and maintain due to these and other factors.
Preventing Low Self-Esteem In Children
Low Self-Esteem can form in childhood as the result of:
- the child being abandoned
- the child being treated as if she is insignificant, or incompetent
- the child’s feelings being ignored,
- the child being physically, verbally, sexually, or emotionally
- the child’s basic needs being neglected
- the child receiving excessive criticism
- the child experiencing a lack of support, encouragement,
- the child or someone in the child’s immediate environment
being seriously ill
- the child being left alone too much
- the child not being taught basic skills
- the child never hearing the words, “I love you”
- the child never receiving praise for accomplishmentsphysical,
verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse
Low self-esteem begins in childhood. The major contributors
to low self-esteem are parents, teachers, child-care workers, grandparents,
siblings, peers, and other relatives and authorities in the child's life.
Parents, however, have the best and most consistent opportunity to influence
the view a child has of himself.
Most parents try to be good parents. Unfortunately, however,
most parents rely on their own childhood, their intuition, and their own
sense of what works to determine how to treat their children; many simply
repeat the mistakes their own parents made.
For this very reason and due to many requests for guidance
in building healthy self-esteem in children, Dr. Sorensen
has written The
Handbook for Building Healthy Self-Esteem in Children. This book is
a resource that you will use again and again in considering
if you are doing the best you can to instill healthy self-esteem
in your child.
Please feel free to contact Dr. Sorensen with any questions concerning low self-esteem, her books, and her recovery program.