Too little self-esteem, however, tends to predispose us to lower levels of mental health such as depression, as well as falling short of our potential, or accepting abusive or disrespectful relationships. Too much self-love, however, can lead to an arrogant personality or be a sign of narcissism.
If you are one of the many people whose self-esteem could use a boost, here are some ideas to help you:
- Make a list of your achievements and strengths. You might want to ask friends and family to help with this if you are not good at being objective about yourself. Then do something to demonstrate your ability. So, if you are a good organizer, plan the next family get together. If you are good with animals, get involved with a local shelter. Engage in the things you do well to build your sense of competence and esteem.
- Become aware of the way you talk to yourself, or about yourself. As soon as you are aware of any self-criticism, remind yourself it is just a thought and not a fact. The risk is that if we continue to think this way, in time we can start to believe it.
- Learn to accept compliments by saying ‘thank you’.
- Think about the stories of you that people have told over the years, starting from your family when you were a child. Have you ever been told you are too fat, or too stupid, or that you fall short in some way? These thoughts can be changed with affirmations, so write out the old thoughts and write the new story about you next to them. Make it a story that is believable to you and not something fantastic that will make you feel worse if you can’t accept it as true. For example, ‘I am amazing and can achieve anything I set my mind to’ is probably not going to work if you are struggling to feel good about yourself; whereas saying to yourself each day ‘I am not those opinions others had of me, I am better than that’ can help you to start letting go of the poor self-image you carry in your mind.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Everybody on social media seems to be happy, successful and having a great time. This is just a mirage we all like to create, but it can lead to more negative thoughts about you. Why aren’t I out having a great time with lots of friends? Why aren’t my kids as successful as hers? Understand that we all have a reality where we struggle sometimes and accept yourself as being just fine as you are.
- Make an effort with your appearance: treat yourself to a haircut and wear clothes that make you feel good.
- Eat in a way that reflects someone worthy of care. Cook yourself good meals and even if you are eating alone, set the table and make your mealtime special to reflect your worth.
- Set yourself small and realistic challenges or tasks, such as inviting a few people round for a meal or joining a local group activity that interests you.
- Exercise! Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, cycling, or doing yoga at home with a teacher on YouTube, research consistently shows that exercise helps us feel better about ourselves, so prioritise it over other things on your daily To-Do list.
- Do kind and caring things for others around you, even if it is just checking on an elderly neighbour or volunteering to do some dog walking at your local shelter. It always helps our confidence when we feel appreciated.
- Don’t give time to people who treat you badly or sap your energy and leave you feeling worse about yourself. If you struggle with assertiveness, then consider reading up on how to be better at this so you feel able to say NO to people from time to time.
- Recognise that you are not your current circumstances. We all have periods where things don’t work out as we hoped, or we don’t have as much as money, or it feels like life is stacking the odds against us. Differentiate between this challenge and your self-worth. Each of us has potential and value, so be compassionate towards yourself when things get tough.
This is a free, quick online self-esteem test that you might find helpful:
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.