According to Google’s definition, self-esteem is: “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect” …which is accurate, but feels like an over-simplified definition of everything it entails. Self-esteem depicts how people value themselves; it shapes how we perceive our value to the world and how valuable we think we are to others. Our self-worth impacts nearly every part of our lives–our trust in our own abilities, our trust in others, relationships, work, etc.
What does one’s self-esteem look like?
Obviously, this is something that will vary from person-to-person, but it impacts many aspects of a person’s life. In general, these are some outward signs of:
Positive Self-Esteem Low Self-Esteem
|Confidence||Fear of being ridiculed|
|An awareness of personal strengths||Fear of taking risks|
|An ability to solve problems||Negative view of life|
|An independent and cooperative attitude||Perfectionist attitude|
|Good self-care||Mistrusting others|
|The ability to say “no”||Feelings of being unloved and unlovable|
|An ability to trust others||Dependence|
Low self-esteem can be caused by many different things…a few contributing factors may be:
- Poor academic performance
- Feeling like you don’t belong/like you’re the “odd one out”
- Being unemployed
It’s important to acknowledge that almost everyone has (or will) experience self-doubt and/or question their abilities at some point in time in their lives. Having a lapse in confidence or questioning what you’re doing once or twice is not necessarily synonymous with having low self-esteem. When someone has low self-esteem, whether they realize it or not, they have the belief that they are not good enough in various facets of their lives. Whether you are someone struggling with low self-esteem and you’re wanting to raise it and feel more self-love and worth or someone who has a positive self-worth and want to maintain that, the following suggestions are just a few, easy things to do to help boost self-esteem.
1. Positive self-talk.
The way you think about yourself has a HUGE influence on your self-esteem. If you think you’re no good (whether it’s something you tell yourself or hear from others), this is something that you likely will start to believe. When is the last time you acknowledged your strengths? Or reminded yourself that you are: smart, kind, funny, helpful, etc.? Reminding yourself of these things may feel silly at first–because it feels unnatural to give yourself accolades, but it really does help.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Comparing yourself to others is something that is all too easy to do, but so hurtful to your self-esteem. Everyone has their own story and thing going on…so why not worry about YOU? Again…as mentioned above–focus on your strengths. What are YOU good at? Your friend, coworker, sibling, etc., may be really great at this one thing, but what other thing are you especially great at? Focus on you.
Exercise can (and will) help improve your mood. And find what exercise works for you. Whether it’s crossfit or going on a walk in the neighborhood or jazzercise or yoga…find something that works for you and find a way to fit it into your routine.
4. Don’t strive for perfection.
This also doesn’t mean slack off either…but keep in mind that perfection is not a realistic standard to live up to. Nobody is perfect, after all.
5. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.
I repeat…nobody is perfect, after all. Everybody makes mistakes…and keep in mind that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn.
6. Do things that you enjoy.
If you’re able to find activities and do things that you enjoy, you’re more likely to think positively. Find something to do every day for yourself that you enjoy–self-care is a must!
7. Celebrate the small stuff.
This can be especially difficult for people to do, but only because people often have unrealistic expectation for themselves (if this is you…re-read number 4). Celebrate the small things! Did you get extra cuddles from your pet? Awesome! Those are the best. All green lights when driving earlier today? Woo-hoo! Find little things in your day and find time to celebrate them.
8. Surround yourself with supportive people.
If you are constantly surrounding yourself with people who bring you down…how do you think that will make you feel about yourself? Do your best to avoid spending time with people who trigger your negative thinking. Surround yourself with people who will help you celebrate you and will make you feel good about yourself.
9. Be helpful & considerate.
Often times, helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. Have you ever done a random act of kindness? It just might help.
There is a great quote I recently read:
“And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?” -Unknown
Unfortunately, for many people, that’s not going to be one of the first, second, or even third thing they name. It’s time to do things for you and work on increasing your self-esteem and self-worth.