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Tips for Building Self-Esteem

Change Negative Thoughts about Yourself to Positive Ones

Work on changing negative thoughts about yourself to positive ones. You may give yourself lots of negative self talk. Many people do. This negative self talk worsens your low self esteem. You can decide now not to do this to yourself. That’s great if you can do it. However, negative self talk is often a habit that is hard to break. You may need to work on it more directly by changing these negative statements about yourself to positive ones. Begin this process by making a list of the negative statements you often say to yourself. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Nobody likes me.
  • I am ugly.
  • I never do anything right.
  • I am a failure.
  • I am dumb.
  • Everyone is better than I am.
  • I’m not worth anything.
  • I’ve never accomplished anything worthwhile.

Then develop a positive statement that refutes the negative one. For instance, instead of saying to yourself, “Nobody likes me” you could say, “Many people like me”. You could even make a list of the people who like you. Instead of saying, “I am ugly”, you could say “I look fine”. Instead of saying, “I never do anything right” you could say “I have done many things right.” You could even make a list of things you have done right. It helps to do this work in a special notebook or journal.

When you have developed positive statements that refute your negative statements, read them over and over to yourself. Read them before you go to bed at night and when you first get up in the morning. Read them aloud to your partner, a close friend or your counselor. Make signs that say a positive statement about you and post them where you will see them–like on the mirror in your bathroom. Then read them aloud every time you see them. You can think of some other ways to reinforce these positive statements about yourself.

Get Something Done

Low self-esteem is often accompanied by lack of motivation. It may feel very hard to do anything. It will help you to feel better about yourself if you do something, even if it is a very small thing. You may want to keep a list of possibilities on hand for those times when you can’t think of anything to do. Things like: cleaning out one drawer, washing the outside of your refrigerator, putting a few pictures in a photo album, reading an article you have been wanting to read, taking a picture of a beautiful flower or a person you love, making the bed, doing a load of laundry, cooking yourself something healthy, sending someone a card, hanging a picture or taking a short walk.

Tips for Building Self-Esteem

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Copeland, M. (2020). Tips for Building Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.