Self-esteem and confidence

What’s made a positive difference to my life as a single parent is having someone there to talk to. I have come on a lot better since having support from OPFS and I feel better in myself. I still have hard days but knowing I have someone to talk to about it is a relief instead of feeling the way I did before. I felt like I was a failure, that I wasn’t that great a mum and that I just existed, but I know all of that is wrong, I have come a long way and I know I’m doing a great job being a single parent.


Find positive examples to follow on Instagram. And don’t let yourself get too down with all the fake rubbish that folk post.

Self-esteem is our opinion of ourselves and how we judge ourselves:

  • We have the right to feel good about ourselves, but often we don’t
  • When self-esteem is low, we can feel worthless, blame ourselves for the things that happen, find it hard to make decisions or say what we want for ourselves
  • Although low self-esteem isn’t a mental illness, there are links between our opinion of ourselves and our mental health

Self-esteem comes from inside yourself. If you can practise believing in yourself, then you are less likely to blame yourself for the things you do or the things that happen in life.

Mental health charity Mind has produced this helpful guide on how to increase your self-esteem, including an exercise to help you challenge negative thoughts and recognise the positive things about yourself.

Some tips:

When to see your GP

If how you feel about yourself is making it difficult for you to cope, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP or another health professional.

Useful links

UK charity Mind has information, tips and video clips about boosting self-esteem.

There’s information on self-esteem and a link to free self-help module at this NHS Fife website and the same for assertiveness.

NHS moodjuice has a self-help guide to being assertive and you could also look at these ‘mindtools’ on how to be assertive.

Sometimes body-image affects our self-esteem. We might think negatively about how we look and compare ourselves to others. Pictures of perfect people in the media can make us feel bad about ourselves. Looking after your body and your health should be about being kind to yourself, not about making yourself feel bad or comparing yourself against unrealistic standards. The Mental Health Foundation in Scotland has a list of 7 tips to improve how you feel about your body.
Cope Scotland has some useful information on its website including tips on being kind to yourself and others. It includes an exercise on making yourself an ‘affirmation jar’.


My home is full of love. We are a great wee team. It can feel overwhelming coping with all the everyday things on my own. But I would still prefer it that way as my children and I were not safe with my ex around.

If you feel nervous about going to a group, ask a friend to go with you. It might be hard at first but you will soon realise that you’re not alone in whatever is stressing you out. And it will really help.

It’s really common to feel lonely if you’re the only adult in the household, and when you’re under a lot of stress. When you have children to look after, it can be hard to keep up connections with friends and family:

  • Loneliness isn’t necessarily about being alone
  • Feeling that you’re on your own with problems like not having enough money to live on or to pay for childcare so you can work can make you feel disconnected from others
  • Feeling lonely can make you feel sad, angry or frightened
  • It can make you feel like you have failed, or wishing that things had been different
  • Some parents think they shouldn’t feel lonely if children are around

These feelings and thoughts can make it difficult to tell others about how you are feeling. See our tips on talking about your feelings in the next section on this page.

Some tips:

  • Remember that it’s natural to feel lonely. This doesn’t mean ignoring how you feel. But it can help to realise that it’s a common feeling and that it passes
  • Make a plan. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, give it a go. It can help you to see if there’s any pattern to your loneliness: for example, certain times of the day/week. Make a plan for the times when you feel loneliest. For example, what film you can watch or who could you chat to at this time?
  • Try to find a way to move through how you’re feeling. Is there someone you can have a chat with by phone or online?

When to see your GP

If feelings of loneliness are overwhelming you and making it difficult to cope, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP or another health professional.

Useful links

OPFS runs one-to-one, group wellbeing and counselling support in different areas. These are free and they can connect you up with single parents and activities in your area. Find out about our local services.

The Mental Health Foundation has videos and podcasts on general wellbeing which can help you cope with some of the aspects of loneliness.

UK charity Mind has useful information about loneliness and practical tips for coping with loneliness.

Talking about yourself and your feelings

Sharing how I feel with others has helped.

Don’t bottle up. Talk!

A top tip I’d give to others would be to accept the help. Any help you get offered accept it. No matter how scared or nervous or anxious, accept it, you will get better. You will feel better in yourself and you will see a difference in yourself when you are receiving help and support.

Sometimes the hardest part about feeling down is knowing who to talk to and realising that it’s OK to ask for help or for a listening ear.

If things are becoming a bit much, it’s important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. This could be a family member or friend, your GP or by calling a helpline. There is help available.

UK charity Mind has lots of helpful information and tips on its website that might help you if you aren’t sure how to ask for help. For example, you can read their tips on managing loneliness, opening up to friends and family about how you’re feeling, or talking to your GP about your mental health.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has tips on what to do if you want to talk to your GP about your mental health.