8 ways to boost your Self-Esteem
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
By Yabesh Dutta
We do understand the value of the feeling of self-worth. When our self-esteem is higher, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are more resilient as well. When we have high self-esteem, emotional wounds like failure and rejection are less painful, and we are also less vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
Improving self-esteem is not an easy task, as you also have to maintain it for long. Self-esteem is unstable and fluctuates daily, if not hourly. So, before we jump into how to boost self-esteem, we need to understand what it is.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-Esteem refers to a person’s sense or feeling of worth or trust about him or herself. It can be considered as the measure of how a person values, appreciates, trust, prize, or like him or herself. In simpler words, it can be defined as favorable or unfavorable toward the self. It also can be defined by many factors including:
- Self Confidence
- Self Identity
- Feeling of Social belonging
- Feeling of competence
- Feeling of Security
These factors are usually influenced by life experiences, age, personality, health, social influence, comparing the self to others, and more. However, having high self-esteem is a good thing, but only in moderation. Very high self-esteem is quite brittle (like that of narcissists). Such people may feel great about themselves most of the time but they tend to extremely vulnerable to criticism or negative response.
Important Point: Self Esteem is not fixed. It is malleable and measurable, you can both improve it and measure it.
That said, here are the 8 ways to improve and nourish your Self-esteem:
1. Be nice to yourself
People with low self-esteem, generally are very likely to damage it even further by being self-critical. Anyone who wants to boost his self-esteem would have to substitute self-criticism with self-compassion. Whenever you start to criticize yourself, just ask yourself: “What would I say to my dear friend if they were in your situation?” and direct those comments to yourself. We tend to more compassionate to friends than we are to ourselves.
Make an effort to be kind to yourself. Because that little voice inside you is way more powerful than you might think. Treat yourself the same way you treat your dear friends. At first, this can be hard but with practice, it will get better.
Try Now: Think of three things you like about yourself.
2. Use Positive Affirmation (Correctly)
Positive affirmations such as “I am going to have a great success”, are extremely popular. But they won’t work for people with low self-worth but instead, make them feel worse. Why? Because when our self-esteem is low, we are too contrary to our existing beliefs and would rather feel that we are lying or overpromising to ourselves.
Ironically, Positive affirmations do work for people whose self-esteem is already high. But to make them work when your self-esteem is lagging, tweak them to make them more realistic or believable. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to be a great success!” try “I’m going to persevere until I succeed!”
3. Learn to Accept Compliments
When we have low self-esteem and feel bad about ourselves we tend to be more resistant to compliments. Even though that is when we needed it the most, making it one of the trickiest aspects of improving self-esteem. So, set a goal for yourself to tolerate compliments, even if they make you uncomfortable(and they will).
The best way to avoid these reflexive reactions to compliments is to practice or prepare a set of responses that you can use automatically whenever you get good feedback (For example: “How kind of you to say” or “I always try my best” or simply “Thank you”). With time and some effort, the impulse to rebuff or deny compliments will fade. It will not only boost your self-esteem but also the skill to appreciate yourself.
4. Eliminate Negative Belief about Yourself
“The only journey is the journey within.”
People with negative beliefs about themselves have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem and negative beliefs are very much connected with one and another. And if one can eliminate these self-hating beliefs, it can boost your self-esteem to its peak.
The easiest way to eliminate these beliefs is to notice them. Notice your thoughts about yourself. For example, you might find yourself thinking “I am not smart enough” or “I can’t do anything well”. After you notice some negative thoughts, remind yourself that your negative beliefs about yourself aren’t completely true.
5. Give a break to yourself
It’s not possible to have every day as a perfect day. And you won’t feel good about yourself all the time, and it’s alright. Stop being a perfectionist. Self-esteem varies from situation to situation, day to day, and hour to hour. Some people feel relaxed and joyful with their friends and colleagues, but shy and uneasy with strangers. Others might feel command in their work but struggle socially (or vice versa).
Give yourself a break. We all have times when we feel a bit down or find it harder to maintain self-trust. But instead of being too hard on yourself, you have to be kind to yourself. Avoid criticizing about yourself to others.
Give yourself a treat whenever you succeed in something hard, or just managing a bad day. In time, you will boost your self-esteem and self-trust.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others
Today with social media, people can project a polished, perfect appearance(not real). Making it the easiest trap to fall into, comparing ourselves with others. The only person you should compare is to you.
It’s easy to get hung up on all the that are out of your control, but it won’t achieve much. Instead, try to focus on what is within your control and what you can do about them. And accept the things that are out of your control.
Comparing yourself with others, especially on social media is a bad habit to get into, making it a death knell for your self-esteem. Everyone has their good and bad qualities, focus on what you have and can have. Don’t put yourself down, if someone else seems better than you (because maybe they are not).
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.”
– Bill Gates
7. Learn to say no and Become more assertive
People often find it hard to refuse or say no to anything, even if it becomes over-burdened at home or work. This burden can increase stress, making it even harder to manage. And you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself.
Many of us are taught to be people-pleasers and to say yes, even if we want to say no. You are the most important person in your life, and you should know how to prioritize your needs.
Becoming more assertive can therefore improve your self-esteem. And acting as if you believe in yourself can help to increase self-belief.
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”
– Paulo Coelho
8. Start Taking Challenges
People with low self-esteem often try to avoid any risk or difficult situation. On the other hand, challenging yourself can improve your self-esteem. This does not mean that you have to do everything by yourself but to be prepared to try something that you know would be difficult.
And when you succeed, you show yourself what you can achieve or accomplish. This challenges your negative beliefs and boosts your self-esteem.
Read more: Top 10 Reasons to challenge yourself
“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes the furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”
– Dale Carnegie
Final Thoughts: Taking Small Simple Steps (S³)
It is very obivious that you won’t go from poor to good self-esteem overnight.
But after using the ways above; you definetly notice small improvements over a period of time. The key is to look over the long term, rather than day-to-day, and focus on the big picture.
When you feel good, or you do something good (even if it’s small), celebrate it- but don’t beat yourself up if you slip back. Eventually, this will become a habit and you will find your self-esteem getting better.