How to Boost Your Self-Esteem
Some people seem to have it altogether. The confidence, the suave, the stability, and the ease of just being themselves.
How is it possible for them to be so sure of themselves and their abilities all the time? Why can’t I manage to do the same?
Our self-esteem (or self-depreciation) is often curated through our life experiences, and our thought patterns that analyze these experiences. Exuding self-esteem can be difficult for our inner critic to live with, and it’s common to feel a clash between knowing our worth, and actually living it especially when we’ve experienced the pain of failure, impossible expectations, and betrayal (amongst so many other pains in life). But (and this is a hopeful but), regardless of our experiences there are coping mechanisms we can learn and apply, that work to support a deep and meaningful dive into self-appreciation. It’s not easy, but the journey is well worth it.
So, what is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is identified as our subjective sense of worth or value. Self-esteem could be affected by our genetics, socioeconomic status, identity, sense of belonging, or feeling of competence. Having high self-esteem enhances our decision-making processes, our social well-being, our motivation, or ability to embark on new challenges, as well as our overall well-being.
“When we believe something, we constantly look for evidence (and create more evidence) that our belief is true. So, if you believe you’re unworthy, you’ll view every mistake, mishap, and rejection as proof that you’re not good enough.”
Having low self-esteem leads us to perceive events as having a more negative impact on us. Someone throwing a noncritical comment, for example, may seem critical to those of us who have low self-esteem. Experiencing low self-esteem can also lead us to make unhealthy decisions regarding different aspects of our lives, such as accepting mistreatment from others or harming ourselves or others. Living with a low sense of worth doesn't mean that we should continue to indulge in this negative lifestyle.
Here are five ways we can adopt higher self-esteem:
1. Identify and name your positive traits.
We often tend to focus on the negative aspects of ourselves, the negative experiences; we often let our inner critic take over. It's so human to selectively remember the weaknesses we possess, and find it much more difficult to identify our strengths. Here are just some of the positive traits you can have a look for and start to become more aware of the amazing qualities you surely have and start to appreciate these small details about yourself.
2. Mature your strengths.
Are you a good runner? Participate in regular marathons. Do you cook well? Host more dinner parties. Basically, utilize your strengths to participate in activities that will give you that sense of achievement and fulfillment, whatever that activity may be!
Remember, we’re not all meant to be good at everything. A meaningful way of boosting your self-esteem is keeping in mind your strengths, and honing in on them in a consistent way.
3. Be intentional with positive self-talk.
Let’s flip the switch and try to remember the last time you thought you were feeling exceptionally good about yourself. We often tend to quickly turn to negative self-talk when we face difficulties in life and shift our focus on the adversities we face on a daily basis. This is not to say that we’re to ignore bad experiences, but to instead intentional attention to the positive aspects of life.
One way to become more aware of the positives is to simply write them down to ourselves whenever we can. Some may choose to stick to a daily gratitude journal, while others may do so every few days. Either way, we deserve to reflect, and give ourselves a pat on the back.
Going along the lines of self-talk, self-compassion goes a long way! It’s easy for us to become self-critical in our difficult times, it’s almost an impulse to those of us who struggle with our self-esteem. It’s important to adopt the same kindness, grace, and compassion towards ourselves, as we so often show loved ones.
4. Be mindful when receiving compliments from others, and accept them.
When our self-esteem is at its lowest and our close friends or family attempt to cheer us up with a compliment or two, who among us hasn’t brushed off the compliment or attempted to disprove it? Someone compliments the outfit you put together and the first thought that comes to your mind is “Well, you should’ve seen Andrew’s outfit!”.
In order to refrain from the automatic reaction of brushing off compliments, we could prepare simple set responses such as “thank you, I really appreciate that” or “that’s very kind of you to say”, and although it will be uncomfortable at first, growing more comfortable with compliments will not only teach us to accept them and boost our self-esteem, but it is also an indicator of high self-esteem.
5. Be assertive, and remember it’s wise to say ‘no’ sometimes.
Being assertive involves standing up for your own rights in a calm and positive way that doesn’t involve any sort of aggression. It means standing your ground and expressing your thoughts and feelings without disrespecting others.
When we practice assertiveness and improve that skill, we protect our own wellbeing and ensure we are heard and seen, which in turn boosts our autonomy and self-esteem. Knowing and enforcing our rights is an act of self-love and is something we should keep with us, always.