Suaimhneas CBT Therapy Cork and Mindfulness Training

CBT for Low Self-Esteem and Self-Criticism

What is Low Self-Esteem?

Your self-esteem can be described as the value or worth you place on yourself as a person. When you judge yourself harshly it can affect your self-esteem. Someone with low self-esteem can see themselves as ‘worthless’ or a ‘failure’ and get stuck in negative self-judgements such as ‘I’m stupid’ or ‘I ‘m bad’.

If you have low self-esteem then it is likely that you have a powerful inner critic, like an internal bully, beating up on you, constantly telling you negative things about yourself.

How can CBT help?


From a classical CBT perspective we all hold ‘negative core beliefs’ about what kind of person we are, and this can be deep-rooted and strongly held within us as human beings. Early life experiences such as trauma, bullying, neglect, experiencing abuse, being held to a high standard, not fitting in, or believing you are not good enough can lead to a sense that there is something inherently bad or wrong with you.

As a person, this can get you stuck in cycles of harsh self-criticism and self-judgement that ultimately leads to distressing emotions such  feeling depressed, ashamed or anxious. 

What is Compassion-Focused Therapy?

Compassion-Focused Therapy or Compassionate Mind Training is an evidence-based psychotherapy developed by Paul Gilbert. It involves developing a more compassionate way of relating to yourself and the world around you.

This means developing a more friendly inner relationship by learning to go easier on yourself, especially with regards to the things you struggle with in your life.

We all experience a  harsh inner critic from time to time. This is the part of us that is quick to judge ourselves. For most of us we would need to be pushed to extremes to speak to others the way we talk to ourselves. For some reason, we have no problem talking to ourselves in this way.  By developing self-compassion, you can learn ways to relate to yourself with a kinder, more compassionate voice.

An important aspect of compassionate-mind training is to find ways to experience inner safety, warmth, ease, and contentment. To be able to access these inner experiences of emotional safety and warmth is an important aspect of healing. Cultivating a friendly relationship towards ourselves and our inner experience is a foundation of wellbeing and a happy, healthy life.

How Does Compassion-Focused Therapy Work?

Compassion-Focused Therapy is an amalgamation of several fields of thought, such as social and evolutionary psychology, Buddhist philosophy, Cognitive Behavioural psychotherapy and neuroscience. It has been proven to be extremely effective for people who experience high levels of shame and self-criticism.

The aim of compassionate-mind training is to help you to cultivate an inner attitude of self-compassion, so as to meet difficult emotions and thought processes with kindness. Compassoin-focused therapy is about finding ways to feel emotionally safe, and to meet your own unmet emotional needs.

It focuses on three emotional regulation systems, which have evolved to help us survive and thrive in our environments. These three systems include: the threat system (self-protection and survival), the drive system (motivation, achievement, and excitement) and the soothing system (contentment, warmth, feeling safe). Compassion-focused therapy works to bring these systems into balance.

If you are someone who is prone harsh self-criticism and feelings of shame you will probably spend a lot time in your threat or drive systems. You may have difficulty experiencing moments of safety and contentment, and to recognize or identify ways to take care of yourself. The aim of compassion-focused therapy is to help you to access your soothing system, to be able experience safety, ease, and contentment. 

In Compassion-Focused therapy, mindfulness, compassion, and self-compassion skills are used to help you to balance your emotional regulation systems and to cultivate your compassionate self. There are a variety of skills involved, such as becoming aware of the inner critic and developing an inner compassionate voice towards yourself, soothing rhythm breathing technique, mindful awareness, bodyscan meditation, compassionate imagery. These are all designed to help you access the part of you that is self-compassionate. 

At Suaimhneas Cork CBT Therapy and Mindfulness, we will help you to to overcome your low self-esteem and find new, kinder, more compassionate ways to relate to yourself.  

Please see the links below to learn more about other CBT Therapy or Mindfulness Approaches:

What is CBT Therapy?

CBT for Depression

Mindfulness for Depression

CBT for Anxiety 

CBT for Worry

CBT for Social Anxiety

CBT for Health Anxiety


CBT for Panic Attacks

CBT for ADHD Adults

Autism Counselling and Psychotherapy for Adults

What is Mindfulness?

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to to book an appointment. Don’t hesitate to get in touch on our contact form below, or phone us at 086 840 3722

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