Ask Jigsaw: Slagging affecting self-esteem

Ask Jigsaw: Slagging affecting self-esteem

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Hi, to whom ever reads this message, I dont know really where to begin with my question, but what im trying to find out is really where to do i go from here…like a lot of people out there i suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem issues and a lack of understanding of what path i should take in life. Making new friends is a lot harder then i feel it needs to be.

The friends whom i’ve known from secondary school are never short of contradicting me for anything i really do or say about 70% of the time. i think sometimes that this would be just casual banter with friends especially around lads as its “in our nauture”. or maybe its a lot more toxic then i realise. I have been left believing some of the things that are told to me like im slow or stupid.

Im not short of giving a response back too as I think its only fair to give them a taste of their own medicine. I’d never initiate abuse to anyone unless its given to me as i do try to be as sound as possible. Its only when we are in groups really that i feel most of the humour is only generated by the slagging of each other and when that does happen I tend to go quite in a group, this is when i feel my anxiety kicks in.

Id like to say that if im around some of my individual friends, im lucky enough to be able to talk about other things that are going on in my life and they do listen most of the time. So in a way i do care for my friends cause there arent many people who you can talk like that too. there would be others in the group whom i could defenitly not talk to because of issues i think they suffer themselves, which i understand.

What im asking really is do you have any advice on how i boost my self-esteem from a scenario like this, as well as trying to handle my anxiety as i know i can never get rid of it. these seem to be the bane of my existance and i just want to be able to be an adult and handle these things better.


Hi Lorence,

As you really nicely describe, navigating friendships can tricky, especially if we are dealing with challenges like anxiety and low self-esteem. It seems like you have come to realise that you don’t like some parts of your gang’s banter, particularly the slagging.

Jigsaw Clinician
In larger groups, insecurities can quickly rise. Some respond by picking on others to protect themselves from being targeted.

Friendships and self-esteem

It can be easy to dismiss our friends’ behaviour towards us. However, you have experienced first-hand how hurtful that abuse can be, as it has affected your confidence. It’s only human to listen to what our friends say to us, they might have known us for years and we value their opinion. It’s very hard not to let harsh words affect us and it can influence the way we talk to ourselves.

Slagging can  lead to bullying, which often stems from insecurity. In larger groups, insecurities can quickly rise. Some respond by picking on others to protect themselves from being targeted. This is not a healthy way to interact, and result in people experiencing anxiety in social situations.

As you have noticed, slagging in a group can be contagious, as everyone tries to give as good as they get. Ultimately, we cannot control how our friends behave in a group situation, nor are we responsible for it. We can only control how we interact and, if we find ourselves falling into behaviour we don’t like, we have the choice to walk away. It’s important to give ourselves permission to leave situations we aren’t comfortable in.

Jigsaw Clinician
Friends should make us feel good about ourselves and boost our self-esteem.

You mention that you have some friends that you can talk honestly and openly with. These kinds of friendships are incredibly important and deserve our time. Friends should make us feel good about ourselves and boost our self-esteem. At the same time, if we surround ourselves with friends who criticise us, our confidence will take a knock. If the group scene is not working, think about catching up with one or two friends alone.

It might not always feel like it, but the opportunity to make new friendships will be there throughout your lifetime. We all have to make decisions about who we offer our friendship to.

Hopefully, some of the articles linked in this response might help you in finding new ways to handle your situation.

Best wishes,

Linda, Jigsaw Clinician

You may also like