“I Have No Friends And No Life:” How To Improve Your Self-Esteem And Relationships

Updated April 10, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

We all have moments where we find ourselves feeling lonely or down-in-the-dumps. Most of the time, these clouds pass with time as we lean on other people and remember the positive aspects of life again. However, sometimes, you may find yourself saying, “I have no friends and no life.” Maybe you feel stuck in a job you loathe, lack positive social connections, or feel rejected after a difficult breakup. There are many reasons why you may feel that you have no friends and no life, but these feelings can be overcome. Changing how you feel about yourself can help you develop a healthier sense of self-esteem and allow you to develop new friendships with more ease. 

You are deserving of love, happiness, and healthy friendships

How is low self-esteem defined?

In a basic sense, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. Everyone has moments where they doubt themselves, such as when starting a new job, after leaving a relationship, or just in day-to-day life. That’s normal. However, a chronically low opinion of yourself can impact your ability to achieve your goals and develop into the healthiest, happiest version of yourself.

Low self-esteem usually develops over time due to a combination of factors. Maybe you were raised by strict or harsh parents who demanded the impossible from you. Or maybe you were the frequent target of bullying. Maybe you’ve been through a painful breakup or divorce that shredded your self-confidence. Whatever the cause, low self-esteem can drag you down. It can be crucial to be aware of your level of self-esteem and how it’s affecting you. 

Signs that you have low self-esteem include:

  • Uncertainness or perfectionism

  • Frequent procrastination

  • Chronic feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame

  • Feeling like you’re never good enough

  • Basing your self-worth on the opinions of others

  • Negative self-talk

  • Difficulty making eye contact

  • Thinking things like, “I can’t make friends” or “I have no friends”

  • Dwelling over your past mistakes

Rebuilding your self-esteem

Here are some ways you can improve your self-esteem:

Stop looking outside yourself for approval

Many of us reach adulthood constantly looking for validation from other people, whether that be friends, family, or strangers. Criticism or rejection, even in small amounts, can feel soul-crushing. Instead, we need to build confidence and self-esteem from the inside out. Analyze when you started thinking negatively about yourself and begin to process and come to terms with past rejections and mistakes. Start using affirmations and commit to accepting yourself just as you are right now. A therapist can be invaluable during this process.

Challenge your negative thoughts

When we have low self-esteem, we may become our own harshest critic. Internally, we might speak to ourselves in a manner that we would never treat a close family or friend with. We tend to adopt negative thought patterns that become deeply ingrained over time. Start paying attention to your negative thoughts and instead of immediately reacting to them, challenge their veracity. Try to replace them with positive alternatives that you would say to close friends.

Define your goals and chart your progress

Having clearly defined personal goals for your work and life can help give you a sense of control and fulfillment. The only person you need to be competing with is your past self. Break down the steps to reach your goals and track them consistently. Over time, you can gain more self-confidence and pride in your achievements as you discover that you can do difficult things.

Stop worrying about the things you can’t change

Those of us with low self-esteem tend to beat ourselves up constantly over small mistakes and perceived imperfections. There are certain things-like the past-that we can’t change. Instead of focusing on these areas, attempt to shift your focus to what you can control.

Build up your social support system

Invest in relationships with people who are supportive and who you enjoy being around. Minimize time with those, whether that be friends or family, who are too critical or try to tear you down. If you don’t have many social connections or friends, take small steps to expand your social circle. This can include attending support groups, taking a class, rekindling old friendships, or just getting out more.

Friends, family, and more – improving your relationships

Positive, strong relationships, which can include friends or family, can be an essential part of a fulfilling life. These relationships with friends or family take effort to sustain, especially when we’re struggling with low self-esteem, but this effort can be worth it in the long run. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to have a huge circle of friends— a few close friends that you can laugh with, be yourself around, and lean on during hard times can be worth a hundred shallow acquaintances.

To improve your relationships with friends or family, the following tips may help:

Keep the lines of communication open

Effective communication can be the cornerstone of any successful relationship with friends or family. Each person in the relationship should ideally feel heard and understood, whether it’s within a friendship, a romantic relationship, or even a business connection. Effective communication involves listening to the other person when they express their needs and having empathy for any problems they are experiencing. It can also be essential that you’re able to communicate your feelings and needs as they arise.

Prioritize regular face time as much as possible

Between long work hours, family commitments, and other responsibilities, maintaining adult friendships can be difficult in. Try to get together as often as is feasible with your friends and family. Stay in regular contact, whether it’s via social media, text messages, or email.

Lend a hand when you can

One of the most effective ways to improve your self-esteem is to get out of your head and turn your attention to meeting the needs of those closest to you, such as friends or family. Can you pick up a few groceries for family? Assist with a move for friends? Occasionally helping your friends and loved ones out—without overcommitting yourself—can help strengthen your relationships.

Offer support and encouragement

Everyone wishes for friends that they can lean on during hard times, so try to be that person for others. Be present when those close to you need someone to talk to and let them know that you’re there for them. Truly listen to them without judgment. They may offer the same back in return when you’re going through a difficult time. 

Factors that can lead to low self-esteem

Demanding work schedules

It’s normal to experience a certain amount of stress in the workplace. In fact, occasional stress can drive us to achieve our goals and complete the necessary tasks. However, excessive stress, such as that of an overly demanding work schedule, can leave us unsatisfied, unhappy, and overwhelmed.

Chronic stress and worry

In today’s frantic and busy world, we may constantly feel stressed out and struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands placed on our shoulders. We may also worry constantly about what other people think about us. This chronic stress and worry can lead to lowered self-esteem, a decreased mood, and a feeling of disconnection and loneliness.

Excessive social media usage

When we spend a lot of time on social media, seeing the photos and posts of other people who appear to have it all, we may feel like we’re missing out. We compare our real lives, which may not be filled with daily parties and expensive vacations, to the carefully curated images presented online. Even if we know these posts are unrealistic, it can still affect us. A recent study published in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety found a link between frequent social media usage and depression.


Depression is a very common mental illness, affecting over 16 million adults in the US. It is the leading cause of disability for those aged 15-44. Depression requires a diagnosis by a qualified health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Symptoms of depression can sap your energy, lower your mood, taint your thinking, and make even the simplest tasks feel much more difficult. If you have five or more of the following symptoms most days for over two weeks, then you may have depression:

  • Feeling persistently sad, hopeless, or numb

  • Losing interest and enjoyment in most activities, even those you once loved

  • I am feeling worthless

  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking straight

  • Fatigue, loss of energy

  • Loss of appetite or, alternately, a significant increase in appetite

  • Insomnia or, alternately, increased need for sleep. I have slowed motor functioning

  • Urge to isolate from others

  • Thoughts of suicide

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

While it’s normal to feel a bit nervous in certain social situations, like a job interview or a first date, a persistent feeling of anxiety or fear related to social interactions can cause significant distress and barriers in your life. With Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), even basic social interactions can cause a severe amount of anxiety, worry, and embarrassment. You may eventually avoid social situations in an attempt to minimize these symptoms, leading to isolation.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Intense anxiety or fear when faced with social situations

  • Worry about potentially embarrassing or humiliating oneself

  • Fear of judgment

  • Avoidance of social interactions

  • Physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness

  • Fear or anxiety that is disproportionate to the situation

As with depression, social anxiety disorder forms a negative feedback loop that only causes symptoms to persist and worsen over time. Social anxiety can have a severe impact on your ability to be successful in work, relationships, and other activities that may be important to you.

Seeking treatment

If you think you’re struggling with an issue such as depression or anxiety, it can be important to seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. The longer you try to manage symptoms by yourself, the more you may find yourself struggling against them.

You are deserving of love, happiness, and healthy friendships

Online counseling with Regain

If you’re still having trouble improving your self-esteem despite your efforts, consider reaching out to a professional counselor. A counselor can offer you the support, perspective, and guidance you need to improve your outlook and regain your self-confidence. Regain is an online counseling platform that offers guidance for both individual and couples, depending on your needs. You can connect with your therapist through several methods, including an in-app messaging feature that allows you to stay in touch with them throughout the day. This may help you feel less lonely as you work on finding and making new friends. Despite how you feel, you are not alone—reach out to a Regain therapist to get started on the path to self-acceptance and stronger, closer relationships.

The efficacy of online counseling 

Those struggling with a lack of self-esteem may develop conditions like anxiety or depression. Researchers have studied the ability of online counseling to target and improve these issues and promote positive mental health outcomes. In one pilot study, they found that an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program (ICBT) had a “significant positive impact on secondary measures of self-esteem, self-compassion, quality of life, depression and anxiety.” These findings suggest that online therapy can effectively treat low self-esteem, decrease depression and anxiety levels, and increase one’s quality of life.

Counselor reviews

“I don’t know what I would have done without Harry. I was in a super low place and I was not sure what my problems were or how to solve them, but he was able to help me get to the bottom of my problems and work through them. Today I am happy and feel like myself again. He was so easy to talk to and worked with me whenever I needed him. Even on vacation, he took time to call me and talk through whatever I was going through. I would highly recommend him.”

“Sarah has been comforting to me through a very difficult transition. She has helped me to regain confidence and listen to my intuition. She is a great listener and has encouraged me to rediscover and use my voice.”


Having close, fulfilling friendships can come with numerous benefits. Sometimes, having just a few people you can count on can provide you with all the support you need. Learning how to accept yourself as you are can help you accept others for who they are. While you may feel as if you have no friends right now, you can learn how to make and maintain friendships with other people over time. If you need help doing so, an online therapist can guide you through the process of developing new social skills and fostering a healthy sense of self-esteem. 

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