Are self-awareness exercises helpful? Or can they actually erode a person's self-esteem?

Self-awareness exercises can be conducted in a group or on an indivdidual basis. The exercises involve connecting with the self—learning more about one's needs, fears, likes, dislikes, areas of strength, and areas of weakness (and how to improve upon those areas). 

Cheng, et al. (2011) found that study subjects with low-self-esteem actually became more negative about themselves after completing a self-awareness exercise. The self-esteem exercise in the study consisted of subjects completing a task in front of a mirror for three minutes.

The researchers hypothesized that during a self-awareness exercise, people with low self-esteem judge themselves against self-imposed high standards and find that they fall short of those standards. 

Is it possible that self-awareness exercises can actually decrease feelings of self-worth? Is it the particular exercise that causes the issue? Or should self-awareness exercises be contraindicated in a population with low self-esteem?

What are your thoughts?

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