Written by: Mary Ann Bechtold, MSW
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem refers to the way you think about yourself. Psychotherapist Nathaniel Brandon wrote: “Positive self- esteem is importantbecause when people experience it, they feel and look good, are effective and productive, and they respond to others and themselves in healthy, positive, growing ways.”
Having healthy self-esteem helps you navigate through life with the confidence you need to achieve your goals. The more confident you are, the more successful you will be since you are more likely to persist in the face of difficulties. People with high self-esteem have confidence in their ability to cope with the problems that arise in their personal or professional lives. With a confident, assertive attitude, it is easier to believe that you can successfully manage the challenges in life without a great deal of stress and anxiety.
Here are 7 ways that you can improve your self-esteem:
1. Avoid perfectionism in yourself and others.
Recognize that no one is perfect. Identify your areas of strength and competency and work to improve your skills rather than addressing your weaknesses. Define realistic, achievable goals.
2. Put behaviour in perspective.
Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake and stop over-focusing on what went wrong. Instead write an account of what went right and what you could change next time to ensure a more successful outcome.
3. Stop worrying about what others think.
Looking for validation from others can make you feel vulnerable. If we constantly look towards others for validation we can end up with little control over how we feel. Our self- worth becomes dependent on others’ opinion. Learn to accept and recognize your strengths and shortcomings. Learn self-validation.
4. Stop destructive thoughts by taking control of your inner critic and developing more compassion towards yourself.
If your negative voice is telling you how ineffective you are, replace the negative thoughts with realistic statements such as “ there have been many times I have worked hard to achieve my goals.” Negative thoughts can lower your self-esteem.
5. Self- affirm by giving yourself positive messages.
Feel proud of the things you are good at. Positive affirmations do work and help you to focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects of any situation. An affirmation can help you replace a negative thought with a more helpful positive one and improve your attitude. If you have a positive attitude then you are more likely to expect things will turn out well
6. Let negative people go.
Develop nourishing relationships rather than toxic relationships. Having relationships with people who feel good about themselves will help you feel more positive and enthusiastic. “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” ~ Plato
Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Developing a support network is essential to good self-care. It is important to have people on whom you can lean during difficult periods. When you care for yourself you communicate to yourself and others that you are worthy of care.
Agathangelou, Fay. December 30, 2014. How To Stop Worrying About What Others Think. Healthy Place.
Bilanich, Bud. August 27, 2013, The Importance Of Surrounding Yourself With Positive People. Jennings Wire – The World of Success. http://www.jenningswire.com/success/the-importance-of-surrounding-yourself-with-positive-people/
Brandon, Nathaniel: Our Urgent Need for Self-Esteem: 2013 – www.nathanielbranden.com
Burns, David D. October 22, 2013. Secrets of Self-Esteem, Part 1. FeelingGood.com. https://feelinggood.com/category/secrets-of-self-esteem/. Accessed July 22, 2017.
Firestone, L. (2016, April 11). How to Tame Your Inner Critic. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from Psychology Today.