Low self-esteem can affect many areas of your mental health and many aspects of your life. We tend to be our own harshest critics. People who experience low self-esteem tend to feel less sure of their abilities, feel unlovable and unworthy, have less motivation, have difficulty expressing needs, and doubt themselves.
Characteristics of healthy self-esteem are a firm understanding of skills, ability to maintain healthy relationships with others and self, appropriate expectations, and increased understanding and ability to express those needs. Healthy self-esteem is a realistic opinion of oneself and an overall sense of one’s worth or values regardless of circumstances. In simple terms, it’s the attitude toward yourself. There are many aspects that can affect one’s self-esteem levels. Fortunately, with some healthy insight and work, self-esteem can be increased! Here are seven tips to improve your self-esteem from a mental health counselor.
1. Be mindful of times or situations that affect one’s self-esteem.
Certain situations can be triggering. Recognizing the situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem is important. Bringing awareness is the first step to bringing healthy insight. Once you can identify these triggers, notice your thoughts about them. This may include how you view the situation or what you’re telling yourself (self-talk). Try asking yourself, “is this belief true?” or “would you say them to your friend?”.
2. Challenge your thinking patterns.
Being aware of negative thinking, or detecting flaws in your logic, is difficult. Therapy can help a person become more aware of, and work with, challenging thinking patterns, so you should be prepared to consider reaching out to a therapist who can help you. Certain thought patterns can wear down self-esteem. These can include all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, filtering, rejecting achievements/positive experiences, mistaking feelings for facts, and negative self-talk. Avoid ‘should’ statements to help adapt to a healthier view of what to expect from yourself.
3. Use positive self-talk.
The way we speak to ourselves is highly important. Replacing negative or untrue thoughts with positive thoughts is highly effective in boosting self-esteem. Recognize and acknowledge what thoughts may be hurting you and not be serving you. Self-talk influences the story one creates about oneself. Self-talk is directly correlated to self-image. Low self-esteem usually builds over time due to poor self-talk and negative thoughts.
4. Practice self-compassion.
Practice forgiving yourself for past mistakes. This means allowing yourself to move forward by accepting all parts of yourself. Try forgiving yourself, considering what you’ve learned, and encouraging yourself. Affirmations are a helpful tool for practicing self-compassion. They help challenge negative thoughts and rewire the mind. Perfectionism can play a nasty role in lowering self-esteem. Accepting that no one is perfect is to accept mistakes, which can grow self-esteem.
5. Positive journaling has been proven to help improve self-esteem.
This journaling exercise will have you reflect, and record three positive aspects related to your successes, good qualities, and positive experiences. This is a helpful tool when people might have a difficult time identifying gratitude and positive aspects of their day. Positive journal prompts include, “Something I did well today…”, “I felt proud when…”, “Today I had fun when…”, “ I had a positive experience with…”, “A positive thing I witnessed…”, and “I was proud of someone else…”.
6. Learn the difference between circumstance and who you are.
This is the key to self-worth. You are not your circumstances. Highlighting inner worth and loving the imperfect self are ways to nurture core worth.
7. Take the risk.
Challenging or changing one’s thoughts or behavior is scary. It takes courage. Try thinking of building self-esteem as a challenge. Start small and make small steps. Focus on the effort and not the outcome. The goal is not the outcome but the effort one puts into the process. Take the risk to step outside of your comfort zone to try an action, even when you don’t believe in yourself. Sometimes you will achieve what you want. This changes the narrative, the story.
If you find this article sparks further interest in building self-esteem, please reach out to Peaceful Way Psychology to book an appointment or speak to your therapist. This work does not need to happen on your own. These tips are designed to help kick-start change. You are not alone in these feelings and struggles. Your growth and process don’t have to be a solo act. Getting support is helpful! Boosting self-esteem is a process and like anything new, it will get easier with practice and support.
My therapeutic style is warm, non-judgmental, and supportive so that you may express yourself openly and freely. I work with clients struggling with anxiety, stress from daily life, depression, and difficulties within relationships. My approach is warm, compassionate, respectful, and culturally sensitive. I believe all people are unique, experiential, and creative in their own thoughts and feelings.