Most people experience twinges of low self-esteem now and then, but if it’s affecting your life, you can learn how to boost your confidence in a few simple ways.
Do you constantly criticize yourself for things that you say or do or find that you say you say sorry a lot? Chances are, you may have low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can negatively affect every facet of your life, from your job to your relationships and your mental health.
When you’re dealing with low self-esteem, it can be hard to figure out ways to build yourself up. You might have a negative view of yourself or feel worthless, says Dr. Lori Ryland, a licensed clinical psychologist in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
People with high self-esteem often feel confident, valuable, and worthy. But as important as it is to have healthy self-esteem, it’s not always easy.
The reality is that you must put in the work to truly see some changes. But there are several strategies that will challenge your mind and increase your self-worth.
Self-esteem is how and what you think of yourself and having a feeling of self-worth.
Dr. Carla Manly, a clinical psychologist and self-esteem expert in Sonoma County, California, says that when your self-esteem is low, it can affect many areas of your life.
Low self-esteem might make you feel disconnected from yourself or cause feelings like:
“It’s important to prioritize self-esteem because healthy self-esteem allows us to value who we are; healthy self-esteem is necessary in order to have a good relationship with oneself,” says Manly.
“Strong self-esteem allows you to acknowledge and embrace your true value, regardless of what life brings your way.”
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, a marriage counselor, therapist, and life coach in Denver, Colorado explains, “By prioritizing self-esteem, you can learn to persevere after setbacks, build healthy relationships with others, and feel good about yourself in the process.”
Building self-esteem takes time, so try not to be hard on yourself. Consider following these steps to help increase your self-worth.
If you’re prone to negative thoughts, it can be hard to change your thinking.
Being aware of how you talk with yourself can be important for developing ways to deal with negative thoughts before they become beliefs that impact your self-esteem, says Dr. Margaret Delong, a licensed psychologist in New Jersey.
Once you’ve become aware of unhelpful thought patterns, it can be easier to challenge them. Ryland suggests practicing daily affirmations or reading positive books.
“Affirmations are simple, positive statements about yourself. You can say them out loud or write them down. You don’t have to believe them at the start, the goal is to work up to believing them,” explains Kori Hennessy, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
You’ll always find someone who appears better than you in some aspect of your life, especially if you’re on social media. Try to remind yourself that you’re only seeing what they want you to see online.
Delong says it’s important to pay attention to how you’re comparing yourself to others. She says comparison isn’t always a bad thing, you just have to be mindful of how you’re using it.
If someone has something you like or has achieved something that you want to achieve, that can fuel your passion and show you that it’s possible to achieve it, says Delong.
“Our self-esteem is best served if instead of trying to avoid comparison completely, we are mindful of using it in ways that foster growth and positive self-esteem.”
A 2018 study suggested that people with low self-esteem might surround themselves with people who are negative or tend to put them down. Additionally, the study indicated that others often respond to sulking or whining, which can reinforce low self-esteem.
It’s important to evaluate the people around you and focus on the relationships that build you up. “If we surround ourselves with people who see our worth, we have a better chance to start to see it ourselves,” says Hennessy.
Consider setting boundaries with people who may not be inclined to support you. Also, you may want to talk with a therapist who has specialized relational training and can help you build these skills, says Hennessy.
Be kind to yourself. Learning how to increase your sense of self-worth takes a lot of practice and patience.
“When we have self-compassion, we are more resilient, and our self-esteem takes less of a ‘hit’ during difficult times,” explains Delong.
She says that self-compassion is a prerequisite to self-care. And when you practice self-care on a regular basis, you’ll likely build higher self-esteem.
Eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly can be two great ways to practice self-care. But there are other ways that you can show yourself that you’re valued, too.
“Write down one compliment every day and display it in a place where you can easily view it,” suggests Amber Weiss, a licensed mental health counselor in New York.
When you receive compliments from others, it often makes you feel good. So, why not try it for yourself?
You can cultivate a healthy sense of self-esteem by being grateful for what you have.
“When we are struggling with negative thoughts related to the self that affect self-esteem, getting into a positive energy state by focusing on one thing that we are grateful for is one way to get into a lighter mood to help any practice be more effective,” says Delong.
“Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to elevate mood, boost energy, and counteract negative thoughts.”
Weiss suggests starting a gratitude journal and writing down one thing you’re grateful for every day. When you focus on the things that you already have and that you’re grateful for, you’ll be happier with your life.
Prioritizing your self-esteem is important because how you feel about yourself can affect every aspect of your life.
You can boost your self-esteem by:
- supportive self-talk
- observing how you compare yourself to others
- being with positive people
- practicing self-care
- being grateful
If you’re struggling to make changes on your own, consider talking with a mental health professional. A therapist can help you address what’s contributing to your low self-esteem, as well as help you find ways to bolster your self-worth. Check out the Psych Central guide to finding mental health support.
Building up your self-esteem can be tough, but know that you’re not alone. Everyone struggles with low self-esteem from time to time. You can get through this.