AMA: Adults Dealing with Low Self-Esteem Issues

Jeanne Prinzivalli
Feb 8, 2018

My name is Jeanne Prinzivalli.  I am a Licensed Psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA.  I am passionate about helping adults struggling with low self-esteem issues and the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety that can go along with it.  

Ask Me Anything about low self-esteem, such as recognizing signs of low self-esteem or becoming more self-aware of your internal process.  It is possible to trust yourself  by building a supportive and healthy relationship with your self.  The most important relationhip you will ever have it that with yourself.  You might as well enjoy it. 

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Have you always been based in Los Angeles? Have you worked in other cities or countries before?

Feb 13, 1:04PM EST0

If you aren't doing psychotherapy, what would you be doing for a career instead?

Feb 12, 8:28PM EST0

Have you personally experienced issues with low esteem, anxiety and depression? How did you deal with them?

Feb 11, 4:07PM EST0

Do you think meditation plays a role in mental health wellbeing or are you of the school of thought that people with severe mental health issues should not meditate?

Feb 11, 7:22AM EST0

How can you tell if someone is having depression or is just having a bad day?

Feb 10, 9:30PM EST0

What is the process of becoming a psychotherapist? What do you have to study at school and how long does it take?

Feb 10, 12:10PM EST0

How long have you been working as a psychotherapist?

Feb 10, 6:36AM EST0

Is there a database of all available psychotherapists within an area, for example is there a website where I can look for the psychotherapist closest to me?

Feb 9, 2:00PM EST0

How did you get interested in psychotherapy - what inspired you to become a psychotherapist?

Feb 9, 12:43PM EST0

Do you get emotionally attached to your clients? Is it a bad thing to be emotionally involved or does it help with empathy?

Feb 9, 12:26PM EST0

Do you have any success stories about patients that you can share with us?

Feb 9, 8:56AM EST0

Have you experienced becoming emotional or being moved to tears during psychotherapy sessions?

Feb 9, 5:53AM EST0

How do you manage your own emotions during therapy? What techniques do you use to stay detached and objective?

Feb 9, 3:34AM EST1

Do you have any advice for managing anxiety attacks?

Feb 8, 8:21PM EST0

Okay, thanks again for participating in this ama feed.  I hope it has been valuable and offered you some insight for yourself or someone else that you can pass along.  Lets work together to help people struggle less uncomfortably and learn to enjoy themselves more.   I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Feb 8, 12:47PM EST0

So hopefully this has made some sense and you can apply it to yourself and life.  Hopefully you can make some adjustments in your internal dialgoue and start trusting yourself instead of doubting yourself.  You do have all the answers you need within you.  And those you dont, you are completely capable of getting them.   You just have to start listening and paying attention in order to know what changes you need to make. and dont beat yourself up for not being "perfect".  perfect isnt possible in any way or any form anywyay. nor would it make like as easy or interesting as people think. 

Feb 8, 12:44PM EST0

And this process is ongoing.  Because you have most likel been spending 10, 20, 30, 40 years getting really good at being your own worst enemy or critic, so its going to take some time to start reconginzing the patters, how it makes you feel, debating it and changing it.  So please be patient.  The process is just as important, but technically more important then the outcome.  But you will get there to the outcome of being kinder, gentler and more supportive of yourself instead of beating yourself when you are already down.  

Feb 8, 12:42PM EST0

So, a good way to start getting to know your inner process better, is by looking at when you feel bad about yourself, when you feel uncomfortable, when you get triggered or when you get super self conscious, or when you go from completely ok to really feeling bad.  And try to assess what was happening, what you were talking about and who to, what you were thinking about the situation, the other person and yourself.  You can usually pinpoint where your thoughts went negative and turned on you.  

At that point you get to question yourself.  How did it feel to think that about yourself? why did you say/think that about yourself? what was the value of that?  was is protective, was it just to be hard on yourself?  Do you really belive what you said/thought?  is it at all possible that its not true or not completely true?  is there a nicer kinder way to say the same thing to yourself, or something completely different that wouldnt make you feel so bad?

Feb 8, 12:40PM EST0

So, can you now see the value of recognizing your low self-esteem issues, and learning to reframe and adjust your internal views and beliefs about you and the world?  

It doesn't mean that all of your views are wrong or bad, it just means they are usually intertwined with ones ttat dont serve you. 

Feb 8, 12:35PM EST0

So unless we worked through our childhood induced low self-esteem issues, which some do, we end up as an adult with low self-esteem issues.  And as an adult we have many more responsibilites and pressures.  All while still trying to enjoy our lives and hold onto elements of childhood that made us happy so we can try to be as happy as possibe. 

But when we are struggling with regular life issues that can get you down, and you already don't feel so great about yourself.. you can only imagine the negative impact and outcome this can have.  And many people are already walking around lonely, feeling isolated and somewhat lost in the big world.  

Feb 8, 12:29PM EST0

So there is nothing wrong with this process.  Its just that when we are young, many times our parents, and the life around us.. gives us what they have to offer, and what they think is best for us (or for some, the experience is not so positive), but is not actually or always what we need or what is best for us.  And we internalize this as having to do with us.  We end up creating negative beliefs about ourselves.  and as I mentioned before, reinforceing them along the way.  Through our actions, behaviors, choices of who we spend time with.  And most of this is sub-consious.

Feb 8, 12:26PM EST0

However, many times people will interpret things in negative ways.   or interpret things in ways that make logical sense, but end up not actually making sense for who they are as a human.  Which means, that we need to become aware of these interpretations, and become aware of who we are separately.  So that we can break free of those interpetations that arent true, or arent serving us in the best way.  And then we can begin to figure out who we truly are and what we need and want. 

Feb 8, 12:21PM EST0

Many times our low self-esteem issues started when we were a child.  I want to be clear that although our parents were participating factors, we can not blame our parents because we are an indiviual and are responsible for ourselves.  So at a certain point in our lives, we are responsible to break free of the internal binds that hold us in the negative thoughts and associated behavioral patterns.

But, we are sponges when we are children.  So we absorb what we are told, what we hear, what we see.  We take all of that in and make interpretations based on those.  The interpretations are about the way life is, the way life should be, who we supposudly are, and who we are supposudly to  be.  And then we function in life accordinly.  And we find things to reinforce our views and beliefs.  

Eveyone does this and there is nothing wrong with it, as it is how we shape ourselves and find a place for ourselves in the large ocean of a world.  

Feb 8, 12:20PM EST0

Who doesn't want to be happy, or life in a way that they are satisified with.  That doesnt actually mean that you are rich, have your own house and a great job.  I really means that you are happy within.  And being happy within can only come from understanding yourself, listening to yourself and tending to yourself.  And that satisfaction will shine out and ultimately domino onto the rest of your life including the people in it. 

Feb 8, 12:15PM EST0

Having Low self-esteem does not mean you are bad, useless, helpless or not good enough.. and It also doesnt mean you are alone.  So many adults are dealing with Low self-esteem issues.  More many that realize.  And the sooner you can reconize the situation, the sooner you can start working on making some positive changes in your life. 

Feb 8, 12:13PM EST0

I would like to point out the reality of low self-esteem.  As you may already be aware, the term self-esteem is commonly used when describing issues with children and adolescents. However, it is not used that commonly with adults.  And many times adults will use the words to explain how they are functioning as; unhappy, just the way life is, just the way I am, uncomfortable, uncertain, depressed, anxious, would rather avoid, I'm not interesed in doing that, ect.  But when you look at the reasons why, many many times it stems back to insecurities about themselves.  And those insecurities tend to come from low self-esteem. 

Feb 8, 12:11PM EST0

Good morning everyone.  Thank you so much for joining the conversation about low self-esteem.  I am a licensed psycotherapist passionate about educating people about low self-esteem and ways to improve the relationship with yourself.  I have answered all the pre-posted questions so that if you have any additional questions I can answer them during this hour. Thanks for listening and being present here today!

Feb 8, 12:05PM EST0

What is the psychotherapy industry like in Los Angeles? Is there a lot of competition?

Feb 7, 7:04PM EST0

Los Angeles is fairly saturated with therapists, but is also a large city saturated with tons of people in general. And the benefit of having a lot of therapists is that there are plenty of options that makes it possible to find yourself a great therapist.

Feb 8, 3:20AM EST0

What does anxiety feel like?

Feb 7, 5:02PM EST0

Anxiety is different for everyone. But some common experiences are excessive worry or fear, sometimes related only to specific situations. And for those having intense physical symptoms, those can include heart beating fast, change in blood pressure, sweaty palms, shallow breathing, dry mouth, shaking, difficulty remembering or saying things. Some people say that they feel claustrophobic or nauseous.

Feb 8, 3:13AM EST0

What do you think of oral medications like antidepressants? Do you feel psychotherapy plays a role alongside medications or should psychotherapy be done prior to initiating medications?

Feb 7, 3:33AM EST0

It is usually recommended that when on medications such as anti-depressants, that psychotherapy also plays a role in your life. Medication will help balance the chemical imbalance within your system. However, medication can only do so much. If your symptoms are partially due to some external factors, or lack of coping skills, then you will want to be in psychotherapy for enough time to process your emotions and gain some helpful coping tools for life.

Feb 8, 12:55AM EST0

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

Feb 6, 3:00PM EST0

Some signs of low self-esteem would be: worrying a lot about what other people think about you, being hypercritical/judgmental of yourself or frequently doubting yourself. If you do something wrong, you will be very hard on yourself for it, and sometimes continue thinking about it for hours or days (or longer) after it happened. You may get overwhelmed fairly easily or give up when things get even slightly difficult or challenging. You may just avoid certain things that you consider yourself “not good enough at”. You may self-sabotage or make questionable choices. And many people dealing with low self-esteem tend to have symptoms of depression and/or anxiety along with it.

Feb 8, 12:40AM EST0

Does it make a difference to the outcome, if the self esteem issues started in childhood versus adulthood?

Feb 6, 2:57PM EST0

If the self-esteem issues started in childhood, which many do, the issues may be more deeply rooted then if you started them in adulthood. So, it may take some more time to address and work through them. However, ultimately the outcome can be the same.

Feb 8, 12:57AM EST0

If you have issues, would you go to see another psychotherapist as a client or would you try to self manage based on your knowledge?

Feb 6, 12:08PM EST0

Every therapist is different in how they handle life stressors. We have plenty of tools that we use with our clients that we will use for ourselves as well. But there are also times when we need additional support and seek another therapist. In fact, some therapists have ongoing treatment to maintain their health and wellbeing. Others will go as needed or desired.

Feb 8, 1:12AM EST0

You mention becoming more self-aware of your internal process, what is this internal process?

Feb 6, 11:25AM EST0

When it comes to building healthy self-esteem, your internal process is something that you will want to start becoming aware of. There are many steps and layers to this, but here is a good first step:

Think of a time this week when you were fine or even happy, and then in a moment/instant you were upset or feeling really bad and it doesn't really make that much sense.   Now, try to look back at that situation, just before you started feeling bad: what were you doing, who you were talking to, and what you were thinking about? You may need to dig deep, because most likely you will find that something triggered you, and you went into an automatic place of self-criticism.

Now, when you can pinpoint what happen, that is officially the start of self-awareness of your internal process. The better you get at this, the more you can start to question and negotiate with your inner critic. You can start to question the validity and value of speaking to your self in such a harsh way, and learn to reframe those thoughts into kinder, more supportive ones.

Feb 8, 2:34AM EST0

Do you have a website about yourself, what you do and mental health conditions?

Feb 6, 11:12AM EST0

Yes, my website is www.selfawarenesstherapy.com  I focus primarily on adults individuals dealing with low self-esteem and the symtpoms of anxiety and depression that go along with it.  

Feb 8, 1:13AM EST0

What effects can low self esteem have on your day to day functioning?

Feb 6, 9:20AM EST0

In daily life low self-esteem issues will play out in many ways. You might get very defensive or more upset then necessary with any given situation. You may not be able to focus because you can’t stop thinking about something that didn't go as expected. You may compare yourself to others frequently. You may take things very personal even if they really aren’t about you. You may have a very difficult time with any form of criticism, even constructive. You may have a difficult time accepting and believing compliments. You may find yourself beating yourself up emotionally and more so then necessary when you do something wrong or incorrectly. You may avoid confrontation or setting appropriate boundaries for yourself, or engage in other self-sabotaging behaviors.

Feb 8, 1:37AM EST0

What benefits can I expect from working on my relationship with my self?

Feb 6, 9:12AM EST0

The benefits of working on the relationship you have with yourself are endless and it will end up positively impacting all areas of your life. When you have a better relationship with the self.. you end up being more present, patient and kinder to yourself. You end up listening to yourself more, recognizing what you need, want and are capable of. You end up being aware of what and when to set the appropriate boundaries, and you beat yourself up less (or not at all) if you do make a mistake. And in tern, you end up being able to do the same for others.

Feb 8, 1:53AM EST0

Do you think exercise plays a role in managing self esteem? If yes, how?

Feb 6, 8:05AM EST0

Exercise can help you build self-esteem, but it can also play a role in your low self-esteem.

 For some people with low self-esteem issues, the way they look can become a negative focus for them. So, they can become intent on improving themselves through exercise and eating healthy. Meaning to the point of it not being healthy or too extreme.

 However, if someone does not feel good about them-self, the release of hormones that exercise provides can provide them with stress reduction and reduction of the depression or anxiety.  And they can use the exercise as a way to build healthy self-esteem by gently and kindly pushing themselves towards getting stronger or better with practice. This will usually also include working on any judgements you have of yourself along the way.

Last edited @ Feb 8, 3:21AM EST.
Feb 8, 2:04AM EST0

Have you written any books so far? If not, are you planning to write a book about mental health issues?

Feb 6, 1:40AM EST0

Not at this time. My present goal is to educate people, adults specifically, on the reality of low self-esteem issues and provide them with options to improve their self-esteem and overall life, which in turn will also help those generations after them.

Last edited @ Feb 8, 3:21AM EST.
Feb 8, 3:07AM EST0

How long does it take to overcome low self esteem issues?

Feb 6, 1:17AM EST0

Getting over low self-esteem issues is an individual process, so everyone is different. There is really no time frame that is realistic to provide. Its about getting to know yourself better, learning to trust yourself and breaking some bad habits that you may have been practicing for much of your life.

Last edited @ Feb 8, 3:21AM EST.
Feb 8, 2:07AM EST0

Do you think sleep is related to mental health issues? Could a lack of sleep or too much affect ones mental health?

Feb 6, 12:41AM EST0

Sleep and mental health issues can tend to tie in together. There can be many reasons we are not getting proper sleep, such as physical issues or emotional distress. And then the lack of sleep can exacerbate the other issues we are already dealing with. It can end up being a viscous cycle so to speak.

Feb 8, 2:12AM EST0

How do you think diet affects mental health and wellbeing?

Feb 5, 5:33PM EST0

Our diet will affect our physical wellbeing, mental and emotional wellbeing, anywhere from energy levels, thinking capacity and emotional stability. It is valuable to eat healthy to have the best outcomes and to provide your body the nutrition it needs.

Feb 8, 2:18AM EST0

How do friends and family play a role in low self-esteem issues?

Feb 5, 2:23PM EST0

Friends and family can play a role in low self-esteem issues, by inadvertently reinforcing or enabling your negative views and treatment about yourself.   At times they may inadvertently be helping you create those negative beliefs about yourself as well. And/or your friends and family can have their own low self-esteem issues and the ideas are inadvertently instilled into your mind.


However, ultimately you are the one that is responsible for your own self-esteem. So that means that you are responsible for learning about your low self-esteem and learning how to rebuild and sustain your healthy self-esteem. People may try to have negative influences over you, but it is your decision what to do and how to handle it. That means that there will be times when you need to set appropriate boundaries with friends and family. Although it may be uncomfortable, it is ultimately a healthy choice for you, and therefore the relationship you have with loved others.

Feb 8, 2:52AM EST0

What is your typical, standard psychotherapy treatment plan for someone with low self esteem?

Feb 5, 11:12AM EST0

There are many different styles of therapy and therefore there is not necessarily a standard form of treatment for low self-esteem. In my own practice, I have found tremendous success with using a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and psychodynamic. I find it valuable for the clients to learn to recognize their internal patterns and process, how they created them, and find new interpretations and ways to function.

Feb 8, 2:57AM EST0

Do you think the prevalence of social media today has an effect on the number of people with self esteem issues?

Feb 5, 7:50AM EST0

I do believe that social media plays a part in low self-esteem issues. The pressures are not only in regards to having certain physical traits, but also what the ideal life is and how that correlates to “true happiness”. In a sense, we are being informed and reinforced that we are not okay the way we are, in any form, and we should constantly be striving for more.

Feb 8, 3:51AM EST0

Do you feel that mental health issues are more prevalent now, as compared to let's say, 50 years ago?

Feb 5, 6:41AM EST0

In my opinion.. 

50 years ago the priorities and expectations, as a whole in the society, were different.  So mental health issues, generally speaking, were approached and handled somewhat differently. Not to say there were less or more of them though. But people have the independence, freedom and choice, and willingness to recognize them, look at them and make adjustments now more then they ever did.  

Feb 8, 3:05AM EST0

What is your number one tip for creating a good relationship with one's self?

Feb 5, 4:44AM EST0

Listen to you inner self or inner voice. The one that you sometimes hear but usually ignore. It is really you telling yourself what you want or need in that moment. It is one of the most valuable parts of ourself to connect with.

Feb 8, 2:59AM EST0
How would low self esteem lead to anxiety and depression?
Feb 5, 4:11AM EST0

With someone dealing with low self-esteem, they tend to be his/her own worst enemy. It is like walking around with a personal bully, constantly reinforcing, in multiple ways, that you are not “good enough”, or are “bad” or “ugly” or “stupid”, or “undeserving”.   It can create a lot of self-doubt, lack of self-trust, and take a toll on any human being. So it’s not uncommon to be tied into or causing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

Feb 8, 4:05AM EST0
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