Suaimhneas CBT Therapy Cork and Mindfulness

CBT for Low Self-Esteem and Self-Criticism

What is Low Self-Esteem?

Your self-esteem can be described as the value your place on yourself or how you see yourself as a person. If you have low self-esteem you might see yourself as ‘worthless’ or a ‘failure’. You might get stuck in a loop in your head of negative thoughts and 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. This is like an internal bully, beating up on you, constantly telling you negative things about yourself. When you judge yourself harshly it affects your self-esteem.

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 as 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 finding friendlier, more compassionate ways of relating to yourself, and the world around you. It’s about learning support your yourself in the same way you would towards your friend who was having a tough time.

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.

Compassion-focused therapy is about finding ways to feel emotionally safe inside yourself, and to meet your own unmet emotional needs.

It focuses on three emotional regulation systems. These three systems include: the Threat system, the Drive system, and the Soothing system. Compassion-focused therapy works to bring these systems into balance.

If you are someone who is prone to 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 easily find 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 a sense of safeness inside yourself, warmth, 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.  These skills 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 Anxiety 

CBT for Generalized Anxiety (GAD)

CBT for Social Anxiety

CBT for Health Anxiety


CBT for Panic Attacks

CBT for Depression


CBT for ADHD Adults

Autism Counselling and Psychotherapy for Adults

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

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Suaimhneas CBT Therapy Cork and Mindfulness