Do you tend to put yourself down a lot? Or feel like a complete failure when you make a mistake? If so, you may want to focus your energy on developing a sturdy, positive sense of self (AKA self-esteem), that will carry you through no matter what life throws your way. Below are what I believe are the best 5 ways to improve self-esteem.
But before we delve in, it’s important to understand what having self-esteem actually means.
What is Self-Esteem?
People often think that self-esteem comes from outside sources – like finding that perfect partner, getting that big promotion, or achieving that ideal weight.
All of those things can be connected to self-esteem, sure. But I think it can be helpful to see self-esteem as what comes beforehand. Almost like the foundation.
Self-esteem means having a stable, internally appreciative view of yourself, through life’s ups and downs.
It isn’t about proving you are “better” than human because you have this job, or that personality trait.
And it’s not thinking you are “less than” human because you think you’re lacking in some way.
It’s simply being human. And knowing you have strengths and weaknesses. Imperfections and goodness, all at once.
Self-esteem means being generally content with who you are on the inside, so you can better cope with what’s happening on the outside. Which can lead to better relationships, feeling more energized, happier days, and a more fulfilling life.
Building self-esteem is something you can start doing at any age, and is a lifelong practice. But like anything else, if you put energy towards it, you’re more likely to see results.
So let’s delve into 5 things you can do to help you to improve your self-esteem.
1. Believe in Unconditional Human Worth
Because you are human, you have infinite, unconditional worth. Period.
Just because you are better at something than someone else does not mean you are more worthy than them, and vice versa. We are all equally and infinitely worthy.
All of those external factors like your accomplishments, the mistakes you’ve made, your marital status, your mental health diagnosis, your income, the clothes you wear, your IQ, or your energy levels have nothing to do with your worth as a human being.
Because you are worthy at your CORE. None of that other stuff can determine your worth. It’s just fluff.
Worthiness already exists inside of you. You just have to learn how to access it.
These beliefs around self-esteem and human worth were developed by Claudia A Howard, and I’ll admit, they were difficult for me to grasp at first.
But give yourself time to absorb them. Remind yourself of these ideas when you’re feeling down about yourself. And check out this free CBT worksheet for self-esteem for additional guidance on how to create a more positive internal dialogue.
2. Love Yourself Through Language
Love is a complicated concept. Many of us recognize love as a feeling. We know it when we experience it.
But love is also an attitude. It is a choice you make every day. And love is a skill you can get better at.
You can receive love in many different ways – from your family, your friends, a romantic partner, your pet. But the kind of love you have the most control over is the love you give to yourself.
There are many ways to love yourself, but a good place to start is by using loving language.
Pay attention to how you think of yourself. What are you actually saying in your head? And when you notice negative or self-critical thoughts popping up, start to counter them with more loving words of kindness and compassion.
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. And if you really struggle with practicing self-love through language, check out this blog post, How to Love Yourself: Try Being Okay With Yourself First.
3. Cultivate Body Appreciation
Your core self lives in your body. Your body is an external factor that has nothing to do with your worth as a human being.
LET ME REPEAT.
The vessel you live in has nothing to do with your worthiness as a human being. You are worthy at your core. PERIOD.
I say this twice because so many people who come into my practice struggle with shameful or negative views of themselves because of their bodies. I’ve so been there.
But what if, instead of focusing on the things you don’t like about your body, you acknowledged it as the magnificent wonder that it is?
Think about it. Somehow, the cells that were created at your conception knew how to multiply and form each and every part of your body – from your organs, to your bones, to your nose hairs. The cells just knew what to do!!! And they created YOU!!! Without you even trying!!! How awe-inspiring is that?!
And the wisdom of your body continues to defend you from diseases. Your body allows you to breathe air, take in the beauty of a sunset, and feel the pleasure of hot water on your skin while taking a shower.
There is so much magic that goes on inside our bodies every single moment. So if you want to cultivate body appreciation, pay attention to what your body is doing right.
Every day, think of 3 things that your body is doing that are working for you.
Like your legs are moving you to where you need to go. Or perhaps your tastebuds are bringing you joy as you eat a cookie. Or maybe you’re just having a good hair day.
In the world we live in, accepting and appreciating your body is a battle that so many of us are constantly fighting. Some days are easier than others.
It takes energy and effort. But with time, focusing on what you appreciate can shift how you view yourself and help you build self-esteem.
4. Dream Big
The first time I was told to “dream big,” was in one of my favorite classes in graduate school, “Creativity and Spirituality in Healthcare.”
We did a 10-minute meditation, where we were instructed to dream up the most incredible life imaginable for ourselves. Where everything went right. Where everything you wanted to happen came true.
We were then told to embody how that felt. To be living the life of our dreams.
Honestly, I don’t remember what came out of my imagination when I did this meditation over 10 years ago.
All I know is that allowing myself to dream big was a life-changing experience. It cracked me open.
It allowed me to access a more hopeful version of myself. A version that believed in possibilities. A version of myself that believed in me.
Dreaming big isn’t necessarily about “manifesting” your reality. Or getting to that final destination.
It’s about creating a vision for your life, and a vision of who you want to become. Because that simple act of allowing yourself to dream big creates a spark. The spark that you might need to start believing in your own worthiness.
When it comes to self-esteem, try dreaming big about who you want to be.
What qualities do you find attractive in others? How can you start to develop some of those qualities in yourself? Have fun with it!
Here are a few traits to get started. Pick 3 you want to embody more deeply, and how to start doing so.
- Curious about the world
After you’ve allowed yourself to dream big, take it to the next level and…
5. Dedicate Yourself to Growth
As someone who loves flowers and a good therapeutic metaphor, I like to think of growth as “blossoming.”
Just like a flower bud will naturally grow into a full bloom, it is in your nature as a human to continuously develop and grow. Because doing so brings joy, beauty, and wholeness to your life.
Growth is not being so busy and productive that you burn out. Or putting all of your self-worth into your accomplishments.
It’s having the courage to continuously blossom into the person you are becoming, even through setbacks, self-doubt, and a lot of hard work. In doing so, you will build self-esteem and align your life with who you are.
With growth there is no arrival. No finish line. It’s knowing what you want out of life, constantly moving towards it, and enjoying your progress every step of the way.
When I’m feeling stuck, I like to do this Values Exercise to assess where I’m at in my own journey of self-growth. It only takes about 10 minutes and is guaranteed to help point you in the right direction.
If you want to delve deeper into building self-esteem, I highly recommend The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi.
And I hope you found these 5 ways to build self-esteem helpful. Which one resonated the most? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to contact me here.