Building Your Self-Esteem: Change How You See Yourself

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Healthy self-esteem is a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself. Your core worth is independent of external values such as wealth, education, health, status—or the way you have been treated.

Our self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. If you have low self-esteem you may feel:

  • Guilt for spending time or money on yourself

  • Like no one likes you

  • Like you hate or dislike yourself

  • Low in confidence

  • Unable to make decisions or assert yourself

  • Unable to recognize your strengths

  • Undeserving of happiness

  • Worthless or not good enough

  • You blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault

What affects our self-esteem differs for everyone. Your confidence may have been lowered after a difficult experience or series of negative life events, or you may have had low self-esteem for as long as you can remember. If this is the case, it can be hard to recognize how you feel and make changes to challenge your low self-esteem.

When it comes to your self-worth, only one opinion truly matters—your own.

Healthy self-esteem is a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself. Your core worth is independent of external values such as wealth, education, health, status—or the way you have been treated.

To put it simply, self-esteem is your opinion of yourself and your abilities. It can be high, low, or somewhere in-between. While everyone occasionally has doubts about themselves, low self-esteem can leave you feeling insecure and unmotivated.

Your sense of self-worth will impact every area of your life—your job, your relationships, and even your physical and mental health are a reflection of your self-esteem. But, what exactly helps shape your view of yourself and your abilities? The truth is that your level of self-esteem may have grown or shrunk based on how people have treated you in the past and the evaluations you’ve made about your life and your choices.

The good news is that you have a fair amount of control when it comes to increasing your level of self-worth. There are simple, concrete changes you can make that challenge your mind and your body. One such change is to take steps to reduce negative thinking and build up positive, encouraging thoughts about the person you are and can be.

How to build up your self-esteem:

1. Avoid negative self-talk. You might automatically put yourself down but learning to identify and challenge your negative self-beliefs can have a positive impact on your self-esteem. Ask yourself: “Would I talk to or think about a loved one in such a negative way?”

We can’t change something if we don’t recognize that there is something to change. By simply becoming aware of our negative self-talk, we begin to distance ourselves from the feelings it brings up. This enables us to identify with them less. Without this awareness, we can easily fall into the trap of believing our negative self-talk.

As soon as you find yourself going down the path of self-criticism, take note of what is happening, be curious about it, and remind yourself, “These are thoughts, not facts.”

  • Change the story. We all have a narrative that we’ve created about ourselves that shapes our self-perceptions upon which our core self-image is based. If we want to change that story, we have to understand where it came from and where we received the messages we tell ourselves. Whose voices are we internalizing? Sometimes, automatic negative thoughts like you’re fat or you’re lazy can be repeated in your mind so often that you start to believe they are true. These thoughts are learned, which means they can be unlearned. You can start with affirmations. What do you wish you believed about yourself? Repeat these phrases to yourself every day. Writing down as many different positive things as you can about yourself can lessen symptoms of depression.

  • Avoid falling into the comparison trap. Practice acceptance and stop comparing yourself to others. Comparisons only lead to more negative self-talk, which leads to anxiety and stress.

  • Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking. Your initial thoughts might not be the only way to view a situation, so test the accuracy of your thoughts. Be aware that it can be hard to recognize inaccuracies in thinking. Long-held thoughts and beliefs can feel normal and factual even though many are just opinions or perceptions. Also pay attention to thought patterns that erode self-esteem such as all-or-nothing thinking, mental filtering, converting positives into negatives, jumping to negative conclusions, mistaking feelings for facts, and, of course, negative self-talk.

2. Connect with people who love you. It’s easy to feel bad about yourself if you spend time with people who treat you badly or don’t appreciate you. Make a conscious effort to spend more time with people who love you and treat you like you expect to be treated. This can help you to feel good about yourself and challenge your negative thinking. Talking to loved ones about how you feel can help you to reassess how you view yourself. Ask them what they like about you. It’s likely that they see you differently than how you see yourself.

3. Learn to be assertive. When you don’t like yourself, it’s easy to assume others won’t like you either. You may find you go out of your way to help others as you feel it’s the only way they’ll like you. It can make you feel even worse if this help isn’t reciprocated.

Doing a good deed is great but overstretching yourself to please others can leave you with less energy to focus on yourself.

Try the following to increase your confidence:

  • Learn to say “no”—take a breath before automatically agreeing to do something you don’t want to.

  • Set boundaries around how much you do for other people.

  • Take control of your own decisions.

At first, you might find it difficult to break these habits but making small changes to be more assertive can feel liberating and gets easier the more you do it.

4. Find something you like doing and do more of it. You could take up a hobby, join a class, or volunteer your time for something you feel passionate about.

At times, it can be hard to find the motivation to set goals for yourself especially when you don’t feel confident or worry about what other people may think, but it doesn’t have to be something big. Making small goals such as trying a recipe or learning the days of the week in a new language can help you to feel more positive about yourself.

  • Focus on small wins. Don’t chase big achievements. Do the little things and use it as a springboard. Whatever you can do be proud of it and try to remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect at it to enjoy yourself.

  • Channel your inner Queen. “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”—Albert Einstein We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Someone may be a brilliant musician but a terrible cook. Neither quality defines their core worth. Recognize what your strengths are and the feelings of confidence they provoke especially in times of doubt. It’s easy to make generalizations when you “mess up” or “fail” at something but reminding yourself of the ways you slay offers a more realistic perspective of yourself. Ask yourself was there a time in your life where you had better self-esteem? What were you doing at that stage of your life? If it’s difficult for you to identify your unique gifts, ask a friend to point them out to you. Sometimes, it’s easier for others to see the best in us than it is for us to see it in ourselves.

5. Focus on your positives.

You may automatically think you’re not good at something. This may stop you from doing the things you enjoy or trying new things, which can make you feel worse about yourself.

Why not try to:

  • Accept compliments. Make a note of them to look over when you’re doubting yourself.

  • Celebrate your successes without belittling them. No matter how small they may seem to you, take time to praise yourself and reflect on what you did well.

  • Write a list of what you like about yourself. You could include aspects of your personality, your appearance, and what you like doing. If you’re finding it difficult, ask a friend or loved one to help you.

6. Take care of yourself. If you have low self-worth, it can be difficult to find the motivation to take care of your physical health. You may even feel guilty about spending time on yourself, but it’s important for your mental well-being.

Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and what you could do to change them for the better:

  • Drugs and alcohol You may think that drinking and taking drugs boosts your confidence, but these can have a negative effect on your mental well-being.

  • Eating Exploring how what you eat affects how you view yourself might help you to feel better.

  • Moving Our mental and physical health are closely linked. Taking up sport or exercise can help you feel better in lots of different ways.

  • Sleeping Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel.

  • Stress Having low self-esteem can be stressful especially if you put lots of pressure on yourself to be a certain way.

7. Get support if things become too much. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. You might find the following support helpful:

8. Be of Service Being of service to others helps take you out of your head. When you are able to help someone else, it makes you less focused on your own issues.

There is much truth to the fact that what we put out there into the world tends to come back to us. To test this out, spend a day intentionally putting out positive thoughts and behaviors towards those you come into contact with. As you go about your day, be mindful of what comes back to you and notice if your mood improves.

9. Forgiveness. Is there is someone in your life you haven’t forgiven? An ex? A family member? Yourself? By holding on to feelings of bitterness or resentment, we keep ourselves stuck in a cycle of negativity. If we haven’t forgiven ourselves, shame will keep us in this same loop.

Forgiving self and others has been found to improve self-esteem. Perhaps because it connects us with our innately loving nature and promotes an acceptance of people despite our flaws. If you’ve hurt or harmed anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, ask for forgiveness. If anyone has hurt or harmed you, knowingly or unknowingly, forgive them. For the ways you have hurt yourself, knowingly or unknowingly, offer forgiveness.

10. Remember that you are not your circumstances. Learning to differentiate between your circumstances and who you are is key to self-worth. Recognizing your inner worth and loving one’s imperfect self provides the secure foundation for growth. With that security, one is free to grow with enjoyment, not fear of failure because failure doesn’t change core worth.

Many of us recognize the value of improving our feelings of self-worth. When our self-esteem is higher, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are also more resilient. When our self-esteem is higher, we are likely to experience common emotional wounds such as rejection and failure as being less painful and bounce back from them more quickly. When our self-esteem is higher, we are also less vulnerable to anxiety.

The bottom line is that improving self-esteem requires a bit of work as it involves developing and maintaining healthier emotional habits but by doing so, and especially doing so correctly, will provide a great emotional and psychological return on your investment.

It’s easy to get hung up on all the things that are out of your control in our lives, but it won’t achieve much. Instead, try to focus your energy on identifying the things that are within your control and seeing what you can do about them.

Remember, learning positive thinking and developing healthy lifestyle strategies aren’t going to be overnight miracles. Being kind to yourself and increasing your sense of self-worth takes time, practice, and patience. But the more you challenge your thoughts and perspectives, the greater joy you can find in yourself and your abilities. You’ll feel proud of how far you’ve come, and you’ll look forward to the future.

If you would like to build your self-esteem, love yourself daily. Many people don’t practice building self-esteem daily because they don’t realize that it’s something that they can learn to do, no matter what experiences they have had in life.

The key to starting the process is to recognize that self-esteem, self-love, self-worth is a seed that grows if you water it.

How do you begin to grow your self-esteem? You start by recognizing that you deserve to be loved. You deserve to love yourself. Sounds like such a simple thing to do, right?

The truth is: one of the things we struggle with the most in life is being true to ourselves. When we have been hurt in the past, we sometimes hide parts of ourselves, so we can protect ourselves from being hurt again.

One of the reasons we talk about loving yourself is that when we practice loving ourselves, we develop a certain trust that brings us closer to being true to ourselves. For some of us, this is easier said than done. If you’re finding that you’re saying or doing things just to appease others, then you’re denying your soul’s purpose.

We encourage you to practice loving yourself often because it’s the best way to get closer to who you are. You are a unique, beautiful soul.

The Benefits of Being True to Yourself

There is no wrong way or right way to build self-esteem. Your true-self is there to guide you. Trust it. Love yourself and always be true to the best version of yourself.

Being true to yourself is a constant decision that we make daily. And don’t think that just because you made a mistake you’re a failure. Life is a learning experience. Sometimes, we make decisions true to us, and sometimes we don’t. It’s okay because we learn in the process.

We are not defined by the mistakes we make. Allow yourself to let go of your negative self-talk and love yourself anyway.

A Meditation for Building Self Esteem

No person, place, or thing has any power over me unless I give it, for I am the only thinker in my mind.

I have immense freedom in that I can choose what to think.

I can choose to see life in positive ways instead of complaining or being mad at myself or other people.

Complaining about what I do not have is one way to handle a situation, but it does not change anything.

When I love myself and find myself in the midst of a negative situation, I can say something such as, “I am willing to release the pattern in my mind that contributed to this condition.”

I have made negative choices in the past, but this does not mean that I am a bad person nor am I stuck with these negative choices.

I release old judgments and love myself unconditionally.

Harness the power of your thoughts and beliefs to change how you feel about yourself.

Sometimes, when we have low self-esteem, we think that all the problems we have are somehow our fault. When you’re in that state of mind, you end up taking the blame for everything.

If you find yourself in this position, observe your surroundings and see what outside stressors may be influencing you.

Is your job really stressful? Do you live in an unsupportive home environment? Do you live in a community that doesn’t meet your needs?

Take some time to figure out what’s adding stress to your life, be conscious of it, and start making a plan to change it. No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Happy healing, Queen! #rp #share #queenshealingqueens #mysisterskeeper #wegotus

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