How to Boost Self Esteem
Using 5 Steps That Work
Ever feel like you’re only as good as your latest accomplishment? That your value is determined by what you do, and how well you do it, rather than who you are?
If so, you’ve got company. We often equate worth with achievement, productivity, or praise, especially in the US.
The problem is this creates conditional self esteem that nose dives as soon as we stop “delivering” whatever it is we value ourselves for. Anxiety, depression, and self sabotage are just three of the many costs associated with poor self esteem.
This is no way to live. And it’s no way to love – be it ourselves, our life or anyone else.
So let’s talk about how to give poor self esteem the old heave-ho.
What does self esteem mean ?
Before we look at how to improve self-esteem, let’s first define what it is. Self esteem means self worth. How much we value ourselves.
Even though they’re used interchangeably, self esteem is different from self confidence. When we’re self confident, we have faith in our abilities. For instance, I might be self confident in my ability as a singer but have lousy self esteem. Or I might value who I am, but not feel confident about what I can do.
This is especially important to remember when it comes to distinguishing between what we do and who we are. We want to have self esteem that’s based in valuing ourselves for who we are.
Learning to love yourself
To develop high self esteem, start with these 5 steps:
Surrender every thought that says you’re unlovable, unworthy, or lacking in value. Even if you don’t believe in your inherent worth yet, let go of the self critical way you think and relate to yourself. Go on a permanent fast from dissing yourself. You are a beautiful and miraculous creation. Never forget it. There is nothing you need to do, have, or be in order to be lovable, worthwhile, or valuable.
- Replace negative self talk with positive feedback and affirmations. Nature abhors a vacuum. So make sure you put something positive in the vacated space where your negative thoughts and mental habits used to dwell. Tell yourself loving and encouraging truths, preferably in the second person. Research shows we’re more likely to believe something we tell ourselves when we use our name and “you” – as in, “Bea, you are a really loving and lovable person.” If you have trouble coming up with some to begin with, there are plenty basic ones out there; Louise Hay affirmations are some nice ones to start with. And try to spend more time with loving, kind people who have healthy self esteem.
- Identify something innate to base your worth on. Don’t confuse what you do with who you are. Find some innate qualities, not just circumstantial ones, to value in yourself and others. Consider what an amazing feat of engineering a human being is. Focus on temperament or character qualities you like about yourself. Think about inherent qualities you value in someone you love.
Give yourself what you’d give someone you love. Think of a person you value and care deeply about. What do you value them for? What would you give them if they needed an esteem boost? Once you’ve figured it out, give that to yourself. Praise and appreciate yourself for who you are. Offer yourself nurturing, supportive communication and acceptance as a human being. Don’t operate by a double-standard, treating a loved person with kindness and compassion while tearing yourself down for the very same things.
- Fake it till you make it. How would you act if you had good self esteem? What would you do? For some of us, it might mean being more assertive. Or vulnerable. Or risk taking. Whatever it is, try stepping outside your comfort zone and do more of that thing. I’m not talking crazy leaps of faith here, just stretching yourself in an act of calculated risk. For example – let someone trustworthy get to know you a bit better. When the thing we’re afraid of doesn’t happen, and we even have the opposite experience (e.g., the other person likes us better or shares themselves more), our self esteem grows along with our courage.
High self esteem isn’t something you’re born with. It’s something you develop. These steps can put you on the right track to growing an unconditionally high self esteem.
So stop being self critical and start being self loving. Recognize that you’re more than what you do. Find innate qualities in yourself and others to value, and spend time with people who operate the same way. Give yourself the love and support you’d give someone you care about. And make it all feel and be real by taking calculated risks that show you your true value. Remember – you’re worth it.
Write down a list of things you value in yourself. See how many are intrinsic or innate (e.g., I am a human being) versus functional (e.g. what you do, how you are or look). Try to come up with qualities or things you value that are not dependent on circumstances, so that you have a stable basis for feeling good about yourself.