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Tips for Building Self-Esteem

Make a List of Your Accomplishments

You may not give yourself credit for all that you have achieved in your life. Making a list of your accomplishments will help you become more aware of these accomplishments. It will also help change the focus of your self-thoughts to positive ones. You can do this exercise again and again, whenever you notice your self-esteem is low.

Get a big sheet of paper and a comfortable pen. Set the timer for 20 minutes (or as long as you’d like). Spend the time writing your accomplishments. You could never have a paper long enough or enough time to write them all. Nothing is too big or too small to go on this list. This list can include things like:

  • Learning to talk, walk, read, skip, etc.;
  • Planting some seeds or caring for houseplants;
  • Raising a child;
  • Making and keeping a good friend;
  • Dealing with a major illness or disability;
  • Buying your groceries;
  • Driving your car or catching the subway;
  • Smiling at a person who looks sad;
  • Taking a difficult course;
  • Getting a job;
  • Doing the dishes; or
  • Making the bed.

Have you ever noticed the good feeling that washes over you when you do something nice for someone else? If so, take advantage of that good feeling by doing things that are “nice” or helpful to others as often as you can to build your self-esteem.

Watch for opportunities that come up every day. Buy your partner some flowers or even one rose. Send a friend a greeting card. If someone you know is having a hard time, send them a note or give them a call. Go out of your way to congratulate people you know on their achievements. Visit a patient at a nursing home or hospital or someone who is “shut-in.” Play with a child—read him a book, take her for a walk, push him on the swing. Do a chore for someone that might be hard for her or him like raking the leaves or mowing the grass. You may even want to volunteer for an organization that is helping others, like a heart association or AIDS project. I’m sure you can think of many other ideas.

Other Quick Things You Can Do to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Following is a list of other things you can do to raise your self-esteem. Some of them will be right at one time, while others will work at another time. There may be some you choose not to do—ever. You may want to post this list on your refrigerator or in some other convenient place as a reminder.

  • Surround yourself with people who are positive, affirming and loving.
  • Wear something that makes you feel good.
  • Look through old pictures, scrapbooks and photo albums.
  • Make a collage of your life.
  • Spend 10 minutes writing down everything good you can think of about yourself.
  • Do something that makes you laugh.
  • Pretend you are your own best friend.
  • Repeat positive statements over and over again.

You can add more ideas to this list as you discover them for yourself.

In Conclusion

Work on raising your self-esteem may go on for the rest of your life. However, this is not a burden. The kinds of things you do to raise your self-esteem will not only help you to feel better about yourself, but will improve the quality of your life while energizing and enriching it.

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. is an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate, as well as the developer of WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). To learn more about her books, such as the popular The Depression Workbook and Wellness Recovery Action Plan, her other writings, and WRAP, please visit her website, Mental Health Recovery and WRAP. Reprinted here with permission.

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Tips for Building Self-Esteem

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Copeland, M. (2020). Tips for Building Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 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.