Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person. Those with high self-esteem believe that they are adequate, strong and worthy of a good life, while those with low self-esteem feel inadequate and worthless. Low self-esteem can develop in childhood and continue throughout adulthood, causing great emotional pain. Therefore, it’s important to develop a healthy, positive sense of self.
Low self-esteem has been linked to depression and/or anxiety. If your emotions feel overpowering or out of control, one way to build self-esteem around this issue is to learn to manage your mood and gain control over your feelings. Some people are able to do this with the help of friends and family. Others need to work with a mental health professional to manage the problems that lie beneath the surface of low self-esteem.
Strategies for Strengthening Self-Esteem
Recognize how you’re attacking yourself. Identify what you may be doing to perpetuate your low self-esteem. For instance, you might find that you are surrounding yourself with toxic people who further lower your self-esteem. You may not be aware that others talk down to you. Some people don’t voice their needs/wants and let others speak for them.
Once you can recognize the ways you sabotage yourself, you can work through them. Take the initiative and start voicing your needs. If you’re finding you are too passive, learn ways to become more assertive. Start small: Ask your partner to turn the television down, say no to an event you don’t want to attend or something that is being asked of you that you do not want to do.
Identify and challenge self-critical thoughts. Certain distorted thought patterns enable low self-esteem. A common distortion is personalizing things; one example is seeing yourself as more involved in negative events than you really are. Maybe you take full responsibility for your spouse’s medical conditions, or for your boss’s anger.
Remember that you may be able to influence someone’s behavior but you certainly didn’t cause it nor are you necessarily responsible for it.
You also can learn to challenge other negative thoughts, such as: “I’m a loser,” or “I can’t do anything.”
Find out who you are. A healthy self-esteem also means having a quiet happiness about who you are, but first you need to know who that person is. Each individual must determine his/ her own values, principles, and moral standards and live by them
What do you value in life? What matters to you? Once you can pinpoint your values, you might even realize that the very things you beat yourself up about have nothing to do with your goals. One example is a man I know who berated himself for not earning a high enough salary and felt he was letting his family down. But when we explored his goals and dreams, he realized that helping others and spending time with his family were more important than earning a specific income.
A healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean thinking you’re flawless; it means knowing realistically what you need to work on and making the necessary changes. If you’d like to be more social, you could join a social club, volunteer, or start a new hobby. If you don’t like that people walk all over you, research material on establishing appropriate boundaries.
Learn what lights you up. People with low self-esteem often have a long can’t-do list. Start a what you can do list.
For instance, a friend of mine saw herself as a shy person but wanted to try stand-up comedy. I encouraged her to join a local group of amateur female comedians. She thoroughly enjoyed it and still attends on a monthly basis. She tells me that this is the best thing she ever did and her self-esteem has soared.
Accept your imperfections. Think of your best friend, partner or kids. Why do you love them? Undoubtedly it has little to do with their flawless traits. We don’t wait to love others until they’re perfect.
“Love is a choice and a commitment that we make each day, despite our imperfections.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Another way you can build your self-esteem is to take very good care of yourself. You may take very good care of others and put your own personal care last. You may be so busy that you don’t take the time to do the things you need to do in order to stay healthy. You may feel so badly about yourself that you don’t bother to take good care of yourself anymore.
Practice healthy habits. It’s important to prepare your brain — maximizing the health, function and receptivity to new learning of neurons — before studying new skills. This includes feeding your body nutritious foods, participating in physical activities, getting enough sleep and treating medical or psychological conditions. For example, if one has been shamed by physical abuse, it is critical to heal the emotional wounds first before trying to get to a more positive place.
Some of the things you can do to take good care of yourself include:
•Eating three meals a day that are focused on healthy foods—fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grain foods and rich sources of protein like chicken and fish.
•Avoiding foods that contain large amounts of sugar, caffeine and food additives. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you may want to avoid it.
•Getting outside and exercising every day.
•Spending some time each day doing something you really enjoy.
•Spending time each day with people who make you feel good about yourself.
•Having regular check-ups with your health care providers.
Again, having a positive self-esteem isn’t selfish. It’s important for leading a fulfilling, healthy life, which in turn helps you help others.
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
~ Judy Garland