Self-Esteem: High or Low?

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 10, Number 6

While many of us here in Florida feel that summer began weeks ago, it officially arrives on June 21st, the longest day of the year. Men’s Health Week is celebrated annually internationally during the week preceding and including Father’s Day. This month was chosen to make use of the extra attention paid to male family members at this time of the year. Its purpose is to focus on issues facing men’s health including prostate cancer and other common illnesses. People wear a blue ribbon to represent awareness and support for the fight against prostate cancer. Other awareness campaigns include diabetes, osteoporosis, family health, and workplace accidents. Events that often occur during men’s Health Week include lectures by sports figures and male celebrities, free health screenings, health fairs, and seminars. We urge you to increase your awareness of health issues of men.

This month’s E-letter focuses on Self-esteem: High or Low? Our email of the month is about a Donkey Attitude and our Ask the Doc question is about lack of communication with an adult son. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the many comments we have received through the years.

Practice News

Hypnosis. Dr. Terry Newell, a certified hypnotherapist and board member of the Florida Society for Clinical Hypnosis, is offering one complimentary session of clinical hypnosis to aid in reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety. Unlike stage hypnosis, clinical hypnosis is an effective tool which can be used to augment ongoing therapy, as well as to assist in changing habits, managing pain and reducing stress and anxiety. This session is being offered as an opportunity to experience the clinical hypnotic state at no charge and to decide whether this is something you are interested in pursuing. Please call 954-755-2885, to schedule an appointment.

Depression groups.Ongoing weekly depression therapy groups meet regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Research Study.If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Early results show continued weight loss for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on Self-esteem. Many of our patients come to us with issues related to their self-esteem. In fact, low self-esteem or judging our selves negatively leads to depression, impaired relationships, self defeating or self sabotaging behaviors, discontent with ourselves, and an inability to enjoy life. But what is self-esteem? In a sense, self-esteem is our inner critic. It is not our self concept but rather an evaluation of ourselves that is based on our actions and what we have been taught. We have developed an inner judge of ourselves from childhood experiences and messages from our parents, teacher, clergy, peers, and siblings. We have incorporated a way of viewing ourselves that can be positive or negative. We often receive negative messages about ourselves. Then we tend to view ourselves negatively expecting to make mistakes and encounter hardships. Conversely, if we have been given a lot of positive comments, we will tend to view ourselves positively.

People with high self-esteem are assertive and live by a set of values and principles. They do not worry excessively and learn from their past experiences. They trust themselves and their ability to make the right decisions and will ask for help when they need it. They accept their emotions and impulses and are able to enjoy their lives. They are sensitive and have compassion for others. People with high self-esteem lack the grandiosity that narcissists have and are not conceited.

People with low self-esteem tend to be critical of themselves and have a lot of self-criticism and dissatisfaction. They may push themselves to be perfect yet do not succeed. They can be sensitive to criticism and resentful. They often personalize situations and believe that they are being attacked. They tend to be indecisive looking to others to make decisions for them. They may have a strong desire to please as doing so would elevate their sense of self but only temporarily. They may be pessimistic, hostile, envious of others, and dependent upon the approval of others.

The noted psychologist, Abraham Maslow, developed a hierarchy of needs and believes that psychological health is not possible unless people feel accepted, loved, and respected by others and themselves. Self-esteem allows people to face life with confidence, benevolence, and optimism. This allows them to self-actualize. Another psychologist, Carl Rogers, believed that many people’s problems were due to their despising themselves and feeling worthless and incapable of being loved. He believed that giving unconditional acceptance to a person would raise their self-esteem.

You do not have to live with low self-esteem but increasing it will require effort. But it is effort well spent. It is important to first recognize that you do have low self-esteem and that you can change that by challenging your inner self critic. Recognize that you were not born with it but that it developed due to messages and thoughts throughout your life. Challenge and refute your irrational beliefs and catastrophizing about yourself. Ask for feedback from friends and co-workers and listen to what they say. You don’t have to have a critic living inside of you. Next, practice compassion for yourself. Do for yourself what you would do for others. Treat yourself with the same empathy and forgiveness you would treat others. Give yourself the caring you would give to others. Do not personalize situations and accept that you can make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you are worthless. See your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Set goals and achieve successes no matter how small they are. Finally, get help and support from others to challenge your critical self messages. Those who are true friends are probably more objective about you than you. Therapy may also be quite helpful in changing your critical and irrational thinking patterns to more objective and self accepting ones.

We offer the following information on Self-Esteem: High or Low?

Now I know I’m being used, That’s okay because I like the abuse
I know she’s playing with me, That’s okay cause I’ve got no self-esteem — The Offspring


  • Self-esteem refers to a person’s emotional evaluation of themselves and their worth
  • It affects how we act in the world and how we relate to others
  • It includes beliefs and emotions about oneself; people with low self-esteem put little value on their opinions and ideas while people with high self-esteem have a balanced and accurate view of themselves
  • Self-esteem can predict academic achievement, happiness, satisfaction, success or failure in relationships, and our overall behavior
  • Early childhood experiences as well as messages from parents, teachers, siblings, clergy and peers influence what we believe about ourselves
  • People with low self-esteem often have childhoods where they were criticized, abused, ignored, teased or expected to be perfect
  • People with low self-esteem often feel they have to please others by saying “yes” and then can become overwhelmed, resentful and angry
  • Positive and negative events happen; how they are handled will affect our beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities
  • The right word at the right time especially as we grow can have a huge impact on our confidence and self-esteem
  • Having good self-esteem allows us to be optimistic and to feel positive about ourselves and life in general
  • People with high self-esteem:
  • Are assertive in their values and principles
  • Are confident and trust their own judgment even when others disagree
  • Learn from the past and live in the present
  • Ask others for help when it is needed
  • Feel equal to others and have a sense of dignity for themselves
  • Are sensitive to others feelings and needs and generally follow the rules
  • Often people incorrectly think that material possessions or physical attractiveness increase self-esteem; the entire advertising industry is based on this
  • In his hierarchy of human needs, Abraham Maslow included self-esteem in terms of the need for respect from others and the need for self respect
  • Carl Rogers believed that the origins of many people’s problems emanate from their low self-esteem and beliefs that they are worthless and unable to be loved
  • Since self-esteem can fluctuate, it is important to remember to think positively
  • Self-esteem improves as we face our fears and learn from our experiences


  • Challenge your inner critic by demanding proof of your irrational self beliefs/discard them
  • Don’t personalize stressful and negative events in your life
  • Accept the comments and support from others
  • Treat yourself as well as you treat others…with compassion and empathy
  • Use “I” statements to assert your thoughts, feelings, and wants
  • Seek professional help to improve your self-esteem and overall mental health

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067

Copyright © 2015; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask The Doc

IJ writes: It has been about 4 weeks since I’ve spoken with my son. He lives with his family in another state and we text once in awhile. We used to be quite close and talk all the time, however, I think something must have happened. I have tried to figure it out and tried to call him but I gave up. What should I do?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: The first thing to do is not jump to conclusions. There may be some legitimate reason that the two of you have not spoken. He may be engrossed in some family issue within his own family that he may not want to talk about. He may also be embarrassed to tell you about what is going on. Also, consider the possibility that he may be very busy and even though a phone call can be short, he may not see it as a priority.

Do you know if he has spoken to other family members or are they in the same position as you? If he has been in contact with others, then it is likely something between the two of you. If not, then it may be his personal or his family’s issue. If it is between the two of you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong. Rather, he may not want to share the issue with you and he may suspect that if he talks with you, he will tell you. He might just want to handle it on his own.

If you are concerned you did something wrong, I suggest that you text or email him and let him know how important it is for the two of you to talk and work out whatever problem there is. You might consider offering a generic apology, something like, you are sorry for whatever happened to cause a disagreement between the two of you. If you do not get a response to your text or email, I would recommend you call him and leave a voicemail that expresses your feelings about not being in contact with him. You may be angry about his lack of response but try to understand why he may not be answering you.

I would also suggest you express your concern that he and his family are all right. If he doesn’t respond to any of your attempts, I would tell him that you are going to schedule a trip to visit him. Let him know when you plan to go to and that you would like to see him. If he doesn’t respond to that, I would schedule the trip and try to see him. Hopefully, you won’t have to take this action and whatever the issue is, it can be resolved in a phone call.

Email of the Month

We thank Richard L. for the following email:


One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw.. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!
Shake it off and take a step up.

Till July…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2015 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.