Self-esteem is defined as a person’s belief in their worth and abilities. Self-esteem is on a spectrum. On one end, people have low self-esteem, meaning they are often more critical of themselves and find it difficult to recover from challenges, rejection, and setbacks. This prevents them from achieving their full potential. Low self-esteem can affect many areas of an individual’s life, including relationships, work, and school. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people with high self-esteem feel positive about themselves, their worth, and their abilities. This makes it easier for them to cope with life stressors. There are a number of ways to improve your self-esteem.
How To Improve Your Self-Esteem
- Be Nice To Yourself: Showing yourself compassion can change the way you think and feel about yourself. Being self-critical is just as hurtful, (maybe even more hurtful) than someone else’s criticism or judgment. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you wouldn’t say it to a friend don’t say it to yourself.
- You’re Not Perfect: Holding yourself to unrealistic expectations will only negatively affect how you feel about yourself. It’s impossible to be perfect all the time; you are human and you will make mistakes. Hold yourself to realistic expectations and standards.
- Identify A Positive Trait About Yourself Every Morning: People who write down something they like about themselves daily, or something they’re grateful for, tend to feel happier. This is because you’re starting your day off on a positive note and dedicating time to identify things you do daily that are strengths. I recommend getting colorful post-it notes and sticking them on the back of a door. Or you can write it in a journal to reflect on when you’re feeling down.
- Challenge Your Negative Thinking: When you notice you are engaging in negative self-talk, focus on challenging the negative thought with evidence. For instance, if you have the negative thought “no one likes me” or “I’m not smart enough to get a good job” look for evidence from your life to dispute the negative thought such as “I have friends that call me to hang out” or “I got good grades in school and achieved honors.”
- Surround Yourself With Positive People: Who you surround yourself with will directly impact how you feel about yourself. Choosing to be surrounded by people who are positive, supportive of you, and build you up will make you feel good. Avoid negative people, people who don’t make you feel good about yourself, and people who trigger your negative thinking patterns.
- Improve Your Physical Health: Often when we’re feeling down about ourselves it can be hard to be motivated to make healthy lifestyle decisions. However, feeling fit and healthy is linked to increased motivation and higher self-esteem. In addition, exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone. You don’t need to start exercising a lot or avoiding all unhealthy foods to improve your physical health. It can be as simple as making healthy meals at home rather than eating out. It can mean going for a walk, stretching, or doing yoga. Small steps toward change are an accomplishment and should be acknowledged.
- Acknowledge Small Steps: Often we don’t take the time to affirm ourselves or acknowledge the steps we make towards our goals. In order to reach the big goal, we have to achieve small steps along the way. Acknowledge these accomplishments each day. They can be as simple as making the perfect pancake or cleaning your home. It can be anything that makes you feel good and productive.
- Do Not Compare Yourself: With social media, it can be easy to compare yourself to your peers and what they have achieved. However, comparing yourself to someone else only makes you feel worse. Remember, we’re all on different timelines in life, and one timeline is not worse or better than another. In addition, people typically post on social media their happy highlights rather than their unhappy ones. Focus on your own goals and feel proud of what you have achieved.
- Make Time For Self-Care: Finding time to do things that help you relax and feel good will improve your mood. The stress we feel from the ups and downs of life can affect how we feel about ourselves. Find time weekly, or even daily, to do something you enjoy. This can be working out, reading, painting, dancing, playing a sport, or playing a video game. Even taking a bath or cooking will improve your overall well-being and how you feel about yourself.
- See A Therapist: Talk therapy is a great way to express your negative thinking patterns and explore your low self-esteem in a safe non-judgmental environment. The therapist will help you challenge your thoughts, encourage you to reach your goals, and help point out accomplishments. In addition, they’ll help you work on identifying patterns and events in your life that may contribute to your low self-esteem.
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