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I think we all understand the importance of having good self-esteem. But actually improving your self-esteem is a whole different conversation! It’s much easier said than done.
My self-esteem used to be in the pits. And I mean the lowest of the pits. When I finally realized that I needed to do some serious work on it, I had no idea where to start. I did a lot of reading to figure out how to improve my self-esteem, and after lots of research and some trial-and-error, I found some really effective ways to pick my self-esteem up off the floor. The results of these efforts are a much happier me!
In this post, I’m going to teach you exactly how to improve your self-esteem so that you can be a happier person, too!
A Few Notes Related to Self-Esteem
Before we dive into the actual actions that will help improve your self-esteem, I just want quickly remind you how having high self-esteem can positively impact your life:
- You’ll feel better about yourself – who doesn’t want that?
- You’ll be more resilient. Rejection, failure, and negative comments won’t impact you as much.
- You’ll be less prone to anxiety.
How to Improve Your Self-Esteem
Stay the Course
Alright, so here’s the deal:
- You’re going to be tempted to work on your self-confidence only because that’s a lot easier than working on your self-esteem. Focusing on a list of accomplishments is definitely a great thing to do, however, if that’s all you’re doing your self-esteem won’t improve much.
- Bottom line – self-esteem is self-love and self-acceptance of who you truly are. I know that can sound scary. Maybe even impossible. But I assure you, it is not.
- This is going to take WORK and TIME. If you’re not willing to put these things in, then you can stop reading now. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but obviously what you’ve been doing is not yielding the results you want. If you don’t change it up, then the results will stay the same. #toughlove
- You are not a victim of life’s circumstances. It’s time to take control. You have the power to change your life. Write that down, read it, say it, believe it.
If you’re still reading, then woohoo! Let’s get to work!
Actions to Take that Will Improve Your Self-Esteem
Here’s what you need to do so that you can get your self-esteem to a higher level.
1. Think about the roles you play and their importance.
Self-esteem isn’t just how you feel about yourself in general, but also how you feel about yourself in specific roles that you play, such as parent, spouse, your profession, etc. Each of these roles will have varying weights of importance to you. For example, you might place much more weight on your role as a parent than on your role as corporate professional. Therefore, how you think of yourself as a parent will have a larger impact on your overall self-esteem.
Take some time to write down the various roles you play in your life. Then rate how you feel about yourself in each of these roles on a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being completely insecure and 10 being highly secure. This will help you figure out where you should focus your attention when reading through the rest of this article.
2. Ask a supportive friend or family member to help you with two lists.
One list of your strengths and achievements. One list of your weaknesses. I’m going to guess that your weakness list is much longer than your strengths list. Which is exactly why I told you to pull in someone close to you. They can see your accomplishments and what you’re good at when you can’t. No need to ask them to contribute to your list of weaknesses though – I’m sure you have that more than covered already 😉
Are you wondering why I’m telling you to make a list of your weaknesses? Especially when you’re all too aware of them as it is? Remember that self-esteem comes from self-acceptance. That means recognizing and accepting both your strengths and your faults.
This does not mean reading over your weaknesses and using it as evidence of your suckiness. Don’t do that. You’re not sucky.
Which leads us to our next step.
3. Learn to be ok with your weaknesses.
Nobody is freaking perfect! We all have weaknesses. This is not a bad thing. Imagine how boring life would be if you were good at everything. Not to mention, you wouldn’t have any friends – I mean, who wants to be around someone who is perfect all the time?! Not me.
To get on a level where you accept your weaknesses as part of what makes you you, there are 3 things you can do:
- Work to improve in that area. For example, if you’re always running late you can decide to plan ahead better. Or if you lack patience, you can practice being more mindful and present in the moment. Write down the steps you’re going to take to make improvement on that weakness. Do NOT get carried away with this – we’re not looking for perfection here; just some improvement, that’s it.
- You’re going to have some flaws that aren’t easy or possible to change. More importantly, maybe they aren’t impacting your life to the point where you should focus any energy on changing them. If this is the case, embrace it! How?
- Re-frame your weakness in a more positive light. I’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about here – I can be really impulsive. It drives my husband insane and causes me to make decisions that aren’t always the best. However, it also leads me down some pretty amazing paths that I never would otherwise go – specifically the creation of this blog! So would I change the fact that I’m impulsive? Nope! Sure, it can get me into trouble, but it can also result in some pretty exciting stuff.
- You’ll probably have some flaws on your list that you can’t change and that you also can’t bring yourself to embrace. This is when you’ll need to transcend it. Meaning accept it and don’t give it any energy. It’s part of what makes you unique. Again, we all have weaknesses and always will. So don’t dwell on them.
Once you’ve completed this step, take the list of your weaknesses, rip it up, and throw it right in the garbage!
4. Focus on your strengths.
Focus on what you’re good at and the positive character traits that you have. The more time you spend focusing on the wonderful things about your personality, your mind, your physical appearance, the less energy and time you have to give to your flaws.
Think of ways you can use your strengths to do the things you love. Seek out opportunities where your strengths can shine. For example, if you’re good at basketball, find a local community team that you can play on.
Read over your list of strengths as often as you need to.
5. Begin accepting compliments.
Is it your innate response to reply to a compliment by flat out denying it? If a friend tells you your hair looks great today, you’ll reply with something along the lines of “Ugh. Yeah right. It’s a frizz ball!”.
Make a promise to yourself that the next compliment you receive you will respond by simply saying, “Thank you!”. Keep practicing with that response and eventually it will become easier and easier to accept compliments, and your self-esteem will benefit.
6. Take care of yourself.
This is so obvious, right? But so often, we don’t do it! Wash your face, brush your teeth, and take a shower. These are things you probably do daily already. But what do you do above and beyond that to really show yourself some love?
Take a little time to do something extra for yourself that makes you feel good. I’m not saying you need to wake up at 4 am every morning to curate the perfect outfit, style your hair, and put on make-up, unless you really want to. It can be something as small putting on an outfit that isn’t wrinkled to something bigger like taking a daily walk to improve your health.
If nothing else, try feeding your body some good, wholesome food and get some solid sleep. This will improve your mood and energy levels, which makes it a lot easier to think positively about yourself.
There are a couple of reasons why caring for yourself helps improve your self-esteem. First, you’re showing yourself that you are worthy of care and respect. Second, it will make you feel good.
7. Challenge yourself.
Give yourself a small challenge that you can realistically achieve. When I first started working on my self-esteem, I challenged myself to stop gossiping about other women – a nasty habit that I was engaging in way too much. It took a little time to get out of this practice, but when I did it felt good!
The most important piece of this, though, is committing to giving this challenge your absolute best. That way if you fall short, you’ll know you gave it everything you had. That makes it easier to look at what you learned and move on.
Challenging yourself means that you are growing. This is improves your self-esteem because you’re showing yourself that you are capable and in control of your life.
8. Be kind to others.
You know the saying that giving is better than receiving? It really is – it makes us feel good about ourselves. Giving someone a compliment, writing a thank-you note, or donating money to a charity gives us the warm and fuzzies. It’s also more fuel in your tank for building up that self-esteem of yours!
9. Surround yourself with the right people.
This is a hard one. But it’s time to evaluate who you are spending your time with. If they are bringing you down, you need to cut ties with them.
When I look back on who I used to hang out with, I realize that some of those people did a really great job of making me feel crappy about myself. And trust me, I didn’t need any extra help in that area!
Do you have friends who tend to always poke fun at you and each other, or give backhanded compliments? Maybe you laugh it off or join in to show that it doesn’t bother you. But deep down, it does, whether you realize it or not.
That needs to stop, friend. Distance yourself from those people. Find people who are positive and invest in those relationships.
10. Get support from your close friends and family.
Once you’ve got your tribe in place (no negativity here!), let them know that you’ve been struggling with your self-esteem. Tell them that you’re working on improving it and you need their help, whether it’s advice or just the occasional reminder of what makes you so freaking awesome!
You also may find that some of your people are struggling with the same thing. You can help each other!
11. Practice being assertive.
This is a BIG one. Not easy to do if you have low self-esteem, so start with baby steps. The reason this is so hard is because we have a fear of being rejected. We’re afraid that if we speak our true minds and share our voice, that our friends, family, and others won’t like what we have to say.
There is something called the Mama Bear Effect. Moms don’t give a crap what other people think about them when it comes to protecting their children. The Mama Bear Effect can also come into play when we are advocating for someone else. It’s the easiest way to begin practicing assertiveness. It’s a lot easier to fight for someone else, than it is to fight for yourself.
For instance, if someone is giving a friend a hard time about something, step in and stick up for that friend. It will get you in the habit of speaking your mind in a respectful way, and it will also help you gain allies.
Both of these things will give your self-esteem a boost.
A Boost for Your Self-Esteem
Over time your self-esteem will continue to improve. However, you’re still human so there will be times when your self-esteem takes a blow. When this inevitably happens, take some time to complete this exercise:
Write down all of the great traits and qualities you possess related to the specific thing that has you feeling down. For instance, if you didn’t get the promotion you were going for at work, write down all of the things that make you good at your job.
Next, pick one of these qualities and write a paragraph or two on why that quality is good to have. Think about how it will benefit you and others in the future.
You’ve Got This!
Improving your self-esteem isn’t easy. But if you consistently take intentional action with the steps above, your self-esteem will become higher.
If you feel overwhelmed, remember that you don’t have take all of these actions, and you don’t need to do them in this order. If nothing else, start small and take the next 7 days to focus on your self-talk. You’ll notice that the little voice in your mind tends to be negative more often than it is positive. When you catch yourself saying something negative yourself, stop and tell yourself something positive. This small change can have a huge impact on improving your self-esteem.
Improving your self-esteem is just one of the many steps you can take to create a happier life. Here are the other steps on the Path to Happiness.