Building Self Esteem: Tips to Help You Feel Better About Who You Are
We all struggle now and then with self esteem, but there is hope.
What is Self Esteem
Self esteem is defined as confidence in ones own worth or abilities; self respect. Lets break this down
Confidence: This comes down to belief in something, in this case, yourself. Do you trust yourself? Do you feel you can if you tried?
Worth: This is the value you place on yourself. Do you think you have value? What value do you think you bring to the world?
Ability: Also seen as our skill. What are you good at?
Respect: Basically, this is about liking yourself, having pride in who you are, and being happy that you exist.
If this is what self-esteem is, then we need to understand that a lack of self-esteem is the opposite. Not believing you have value or skills that make you a user to the world or that you simply do not like yourself. Harsh, I know, but it is crucial to understand the emotional side of low self-esteem if one is going to evaluate its cause and reverse it.
How Do We Lose It?
Many factors might contribute to low self-esteem, including:
- Negative Self Talk
- Allowing toxic people into our lives
- Unreal expectations
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Mental Health disorders
- Dissatisfaction with areas of our lives
- Perceived Failure
- Unavoidable Setbacks
Reflect on the Root
Determining the root of our low self worth starts by reflecting on the following aspects of our negativity.
- Whether these feelings come from internal or external factors
- Whether these feelings are rational or irrational
- What role you play the cycle of these feelings
Internal vs External
Internal factors are things that come from within ourselves. This can include negative self-talk, feelings of insecurity, and a low sense of self-worth.
External factors are the things that come at us from others or from means we do not have any control over. This may include relationships with toxic or abusive individuates as well as issues of mental health such as clinical depression.
Rational vs Irrational
Rational issues are things that “make seance” in the way they cause distress. A sudden loss of a job or the ending of a relationship can make us feel down about ourselves for understandable reasons.
Irrational issues often relate to unrealistic standards and comparisons. Social media can be a significant contributor to this, as well as personal values the individual has. We tell ourselves we “Should” have this or that, that we “Must” be a certain way or we “have” to do things a certain way. The issue is that these are simply not true.
This is probably the hardest evaluation for people to preforms because it involves looking at real things that might need to change.
- Does this toxic person affect your self-esteem? Then why do you keep them in your life?
- Are you self-conscious about your weight? Are you living a healthy lifestyle?
- Do you feel down about a job or other aspects of your life? What are you doing to change it?
Yes, some factors are out of our control, such as the economy and medical issues. The question is whether you can make a change and choosing not to. If this is the case, then you need to ask yourself what your happiness and self-esteem are worth.
Making a Change
Addressing our low self-worth starts with coming to terms with its source and doing something about it. Without this step, the cycle will never be broken. So once we have a source identified, it is time to initiate that change!
These changes can include:
- Seeking therapy/coaching
- Purge toxic relationships
- Set a new routine
- Finding a support system (example: Workout group)
- Start taking the class you put off
- Find a list of positive affirmations
- Start a journal
- Practice self-care
Making it Work
- Make sure your change actually addresses the problem. It can be easy to convince ourselves that the real issues lie in a problem that is easier to fix.
- Make changes in a way that works for you. Medical conditions, mental health issues, time restraints, and financial hardships are real issues. Not everyone can not just quite a job they are unhappy with or decide to go vegan overnight. Focus on changes that are hard and new but possible and realistic.
- Be creative. If there are limitations, you will need to think outside the box to find things that work for you. Think of other areas in your life for inspiration.
- Be prepared for setbacks. Not every change will go perfect on the first attempt, and that is fine! Failure is typical, so just try again.
- Reevaluate and be flexible. Once you start making changes, you may find a shift in perspective brings to light a new issue. This bound to happen now and then. Rather than getting discourages, see it as another set in your progress.
Rebuilding Self Esteem
Building one’s self-esteem is something we should always be doing, not just when it is low.
Positive thinking is the most crucial part of building up self-esteem. If we want to start feeling our value, we have to start acknowledging and accepting our value. This process begins with changing our thoughts. Positive thinking is like water. It calms and relaxes, it aids in growth and allows for clarity. In contrast, negative thoughts are like fire. They consume and destroy, they are hard to control and can get quickly out of hand. With negative thoughts, it is hard to focus on anything else.
Stop negative thoughts in their tracks! Once you notice a negative thought about yourself, actively focus on changing it. An example, a thought of “I am so fat” becoming “I am working hard on my health by completing these exercises and dietary changes today.” Or “I may not have the body I want, but I do love things about my appearance such as my eyes…and my hair looks good today!”
The Positive List! Make a list of your accomplishments and good qualities. Take the time to add to it now and then or list things off. When you feel down, you can use this list as a way to pick yourself up as well. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have (career, relationship, possessions), you are reminding yourself of your own personal journey. What you do have and have accomplished.
Affirmations and mantras! Take the time to talk to yourself about the great things you do. a\A little “Check out this awesome sandwich I made…I am good at this” can go a long way in building up your self-esteem. Finding positive and uplifting quotes can also be used. I like to use a dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror to write uplifting messages.
Sometimes it is hard for us to see our own worth, so we must rely on the perception of others. Those in our lives tend to be there for a reason. Usually, this reason is because of what we bring into the life of another. For a parent, this may be the pride in watching us grow; for a friend, there may be shared interest; for a significant other, this may be companionship. There is always a reason.
Those who love you. As discussed, not all relationships are positive. Hopefully, at this point, you will have identified the toxic relationships and are working to remove them. Those who are left are the ones whose opinions matter, the ones who love us, the ones who see the value in our presence. What do these individuals think of you and your accomplishments? Chances are they know you better than the low self-esteem version of you.
Those who evaluate you. Those who love us can sometimes let that love see only the positive. Because of this, it is also important to look to those without an emotional connection. Consider using performance reviews, instructor feedback, and other evaluations to help discover positive talents, accomplishments, and traits.
Learn to take a compliment AND constructive criticism. One of the hardest things for us to do is to actually accept the feedback people give to us. However, when it comes to building our self-worth, it is one of the most important things we can do. On one side, we need to accept the praise of others so that we can see it in ourselves. On the other side, we need to respect the corrective feedback so that we know what we need to change. Both serve a purpose in shaping who we are and creating the identity we have about ourselves. With only praise, we miss the call for change that propels us forward into self-improvement. We might wonder why if we are so great, we are unable to succeed in our given venture. At the same time, if all we hear is negative and we block out the positive we miss and the opportunity to learn our own strengths. Instead, learn to listen to both and see them for the value they bring.