- "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 are 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 given direction in a loving way, 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 feel that she is of little value.
- Other factors in the development of low self-esteem are parents who are not home enough to interact with their children or to even know what is going on in their school, in their activities, or who their friends are. Such parental indifference programs a child to have no boundaries, to make poor decisions and to look for love and a sense of belonging outside the home. It is the parent’s responsibility instead, to set an example, to show the child she is loved, to guide their children through respect and time spent with them.
- Of course, the obvious is that low self-esteem will likely develop if verbal, sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse is present, plus illness of the child or a parent’s illness that causes the other parent to also be unavailable, can contribute.
- 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 Dr. Sorensen.
"...Since I Read the Book, My Life is Much Better..."
I read Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem some years ago and felt totally identified with situations and examples described there. I found the answer of a lot of questions that I have had all my life and, without any doubt, that book and your therapy have deeply changed my life.
The book is amazing, after reading it, one changes his self-perception by working on the practical and helpful exercises to start the way of improvement and growth and as a result, a happier life.
I am very thankful because since I read the book, my life is much better and I have a different and better concept of myself.
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 to be open to other ideas or conclusions. They have spent years and thousands of dollars in school learning one way of doing things and the suggestion they change to something that is completely new is very discouraging and too heavy to encourage change. Secondly, the Diagnostic Manual is primarily written by psychiatrists and by people who would be greatly negatively affected, it this were to be established. So, they are unwilling to consider that low self-esteem may well be the primary foundation of a great many diagnosis in the manual. Not all psychiatrists agree with the manual, however and this must be remembered. The consequences of changing the manual would be that thousands or even millions of people would not be on medication, but could work with someone familiar with my Recovery Program and could fully recover.
- Low self-esteem should be included in the diagnostic manual as a stand-alone disorder (utilized by all therapists to determine diagnose for proper care and for insurance purposes). However, written primarily by psychiatrists, most of whom do very little therapy, but mainly prescribe meds, the diagnostic manual may never change.
- Dr. Sorensen, realized early on that this was a problem, leaving her to figure out for herself and for others therapists, the how and when LSE forms and then utilizing this understanding to develop her Recovery Program. This personal process took her many years until she became confident that she fully understood Low Self-Esteem and was ready to write her first book, (1998), then others, and finally to develop her Recovery Program. Since then, the book has become popular worldwide, resulting in Dr. Sorensen being nominated and honored to be included in the Bristol (England) Who’s Who in Professionals & Business for her work worldwide on self-esteem.
- Her 3rd book, Low Self-Esteem Misunderstood & Misdiagnosed was written to hopefully open up new thought about this issue and on her speaking tours in 60 major cities, therapists where beginning to agree that low self-esteem was and is a stand-alone problem and should be recognized as such in our diagnostic manual, rather than being considered merely a symptom.
- Thus while low self-esteem doesn’t require medication to overcome it, most of my clients have been in therapy for multiple years, wasting money, using medication and never getting the help they have needed to overcome their self-esteem issues. The man in the video on this website, was one of those who saw a counselor, social worker, and a psychiatrist, put on meds and his depression worsened, his wish to stay alive lessened. On my program in just 4 months, he felt more healthy and in a better space than he said he had ever felt in his life.
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. Those who work with Dr. Sorensen are amazed at the progress they make and how quickly it goes. After the first session, most are able to recognize the possibilities of the path they are on with her program.
- 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:
Do you have questions about your Download Version order? click here
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 accomplishments
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.