We have all heard the word “self-esteem” more than a few times in our lives. The topic is all the buzz among mental health and wellness professionals. But what is self-esteem anyway? And, more importantly, how can we improve our self-esteem if it is less than well?
What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is a term we use to explain how a person views themselves. It is a measure of how much a person likes themselves and views their worth, regardless of what is going on in the world. It includes aspects of a person, such as confidence, identity, and a sense of belonging.
We develop our self-esteem as we grow up. It is usually shaped by events in our lives, both minor and major. Self-esteem can change over time, and there are often ebbs and flows in how people see themselves.
Our self-esteem involves our skills, the relationships we hold with others, our expectations for ourselves, and an understanding of our needs. Similarly, it can be affected by our status, our abilities, and our overall health.
Why Self-Esteem Matters for Adults
Self-esteem impacts nearly every aspect of our lives. It affects our decision-making, life satisfaction, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being. When we see ourselves in a positive light, we are more able to overcome stressful life events through resilience. We can also find the inspiration to continue to improve ourselves and see the sunny side of things.
When we experience low self-esteem, we feel less certain of our abilities and in every aspect of our lives. We may lose motivation, find everyday events overwhelming, and even see our lives as pointless. This can harm nearly every aspect of our lives and hold us back from reaching our true potential.
This is why nurturing our self-esteem and maintaining a high regard for ourselves is so important – it is what helps us live our best possible lives.
What Are Signs Of Low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem can present itself in many ways. Some common ones include an inability to accept compliments, frequent use of self-deprecating humor, refusing to see your accomplishments for what they are, and blaming oneself when things go wrong.
8 Ways To Improve Low Self-Esteem
If you combat self-esteem issues, you aren’t alone. In fact, 85 percent of the world’s population battles low self-esteem on a daily basis. Luckily, you can build self-esteem anytime by following these suggestions.
1. Change Your Self-Talk
Many people with low-self esteem are their own worst enemies because they talk to themselves in a way that is negative and demeaning. This self-talk often happens so automatically that we don’t even realize what our brain is doing to us. However, this deeply-rooted negative self-talk makes it nearly impossible to accept compliments and see yourself in a positive light.
Therefore, the first step you should take to build self-esteem involves changing how you talk to yourself. The more you focus on it, the easier it will be. Then, over time, you will learn to replace these negative thoughts about yourself with more realistic and positive ones.
You can use thought records or a simple journal to jot down the way you talk to yourself throughout the day. Then, as you become more aware of your self-talk, you can start challenging, or reframing, the validity of these beliefs. It can take months to work on this, but daily practice is key.
2. Focus on Strengths
Sometimes we view ourselves in a negative light because we spend too much time focusing on our shortcomings. When we spend too much time hyper-focusing on our flaws, we lose sight of all of our more positive attributes. What’s more, self-doubt sets in, and this only lowers our self-esteem even more. However, we can combat those negative thoughts and build self-esteem by playing to our strengths.
Before you can focus on your strengths, you must identify what they even are. You can do this by looking at areas in your life where you find the most success or joy. You can also ask close friends and family members what skills they see in you. If you’re really stumped, you can take any number of personality tests to find out more about yourself.
Once you identify your strengths, you can evaluate which parts of your life give you the opportunity to play to these skills, and which ones do not. Similarly, you can identify which aspects of your life do not give you the opportunity to highlight yourself and decide if they are worth holding onto. Making the decision to let yourself engage in your strengths instead of your shortcomings will not only build your self-esteem but help you feel more at peace with your life.
3. Care for Your Physical Health
Studies have shown that physical health and self-esteem go hand-in-hand. When our physical health falters, we experience low self-esteem. Likewise, those with low-self-esteem often deal with increased health problems the longer they feel unhappy. Therefore, it’s important to care for your physical health just as much as your mental health if you would like to build self-esteem.
Caring for your physical health involves many facets. You should eat balanced meals, exercise regularly, and attend appointments for preventative care. You should also look for ways to manage stress and sleep properly each night.
This may require some minor lifestyle changes. However, these changes can make a huge difference in your self-esteem and your overall health.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Most of the time, though, what we see on social media and even in person isn’t the full story. In many cases, we end up comparing our own realistic view of ourselves to an inflated, incomplete view of others. It’s like comparing apples to oranges and doing this only causes low self-esteem to prevail.
So, instead of continuing to compare yourself to others, it’s important to simply compare your own progress to where you were before. Changing this outlook will help you build self-esteem, lessen your negative self-talk, and see yourself from an entirely different perspective.
5. Accept Compliments
When we experience low self-esteem, it’s often hard to see our own positive qualities. This makes it hard to not only treat ourselves with kindness but also accept compliments from others, even our own loved ones.
When we believe that the kind things others say about us are inaccurate, we deflect and refuse compliments. This not only makes it harder to build self-esteem but can impact our relationships with others. Therefore, it’s important to not only accept these compliments for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our relationships with others.
6. Live True to Your Values
When our values don’t align with how we live our lives, we live in a constant state of inner conflict. This can lower our self-confidence and make us doubt ourselves. Over time, this inner conflict starts to wear us down and impact our self-esteem in big ways. The longer we live in conflict with our values, the more feelings of inadequacy and loneliness settle in.
So, if you want to build self-esteem back up, you can evaluate your personal values and look for ways to bring them back to life. There are several ways to do this, such as through the use of a values inventory. Similarly, you can look to the people you most admire and think about what attributes you most appreciate. By doing either of these activities, you can find your personal values. Then it’s just a matter of looking for ways to make sure you live out these values in your everyday life.
7. Find Your Purpose
Humans all long for a sense of purpose. Without it, we often feel lost and useless. When we feel this way, our self-esteem suffers. Yet, when we find our purpose, our lives hold meaning and we feel fulfilled. In other words, finding your purpose can help you build self-esteem and elevate your self-worth.
To find your purpose, you must look inward and think about what brings you joy. You can also look at your values and goals to see what drives you to work harder and pushes you to be the best version of yourself. You can also look at causes you support and see how these causes make you feel about life and yourself.
Once you’ve found your purpose, you can start looking for ways to live it out in your daily life. Doing so will directly impact your self-esteem and help you see yourself in a new, more positive way.
8. Ask For Help
Sometimes people experience low self-esteem not because of anything they’re doing wrong, but because of events that have happened in their past. If you find yourself struggling to build self-esteem even after following other suggestions, it may be that it’s time to enlist the help of a life coach or therapist. These experts are trained to help you find the best version of yourself, and have great experience in assisting others just like you dig their way out of low self-esteem into a better perspective.
It’s Time To Live Your Best Life
Working on your self-esteem is a lifelong work in progress. However, it’s well worth the efforts. After all, self-esteem is what allows us to live our best lives, and without it, we are lost. Whether you feel fairly settled in your self-esteem levels or wish your view of yourself was a little bit better, these tips can help you combat bouts of low self-esteem and come out better on the other side.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have good self-esteem?
Self-esteem isn’t something that you can easily measure. However, if you can easily identify your skills and talents, like who you are, and don’t feel bogged down with worry, chances are you have healthy self-esteem.
Is there such thing as too much self-esteem?
Sometimes people can have such high self-esteem that it clouds their judgment. These people may come across as overly confident and have an inflated sense of your talents. This can ultimately hurt your self-worth if your over confidence leads you to make decisions that later backfire.
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