Everybody feels low about themselves from time to time. It’s normal. But when these feelings become persistent, it usually indicates low self-esteem.
When you have low self-esteem, you generally find it difficult to love yourself and you may even loathe yourself. You tend to have negative thoughts about your worth and value as a person.
It’s often a vicious cycle. This is how it works: Your low self-esteem makes you feel worse about yourself, so much so that you are hardly left with any motivation to build up your self-esteem. As your brain constantly focuses on negative thoughts, it cements your negative beliefs even though they likely have no basis in reality. This further deteriorates your self-esteem.
People with healthy self-esteem appreciate the way they are and take pride in their achievements. They accept their flaws, but they do not let these flaws deter their self-confidence. On the contrary, people with low self-esteem generally have a tendency to self-victimize. As a result, you are reluctant to express and assert yourself and you miss out on opportunities, ranging from personal to professional.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Stop being overly critical of yourself. Everyone has a self-critic inside them. It can either help you achieve things in life or completely drag your self-esteem down. Whenever you hear your inner critic shouting destructive thoughts in your mind, say “Stop!” and practice positive self-talk or distract your mind with something else.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. In all aspects, there will always be someone who is better than you. So instead, focus on yourself. Compare you to yourself: How far you have come and what you need to do to improve further. This will motivate you and also boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Spend more time with uplifting people who motivate you to achieve your dreams and goals. Avoid negative and unkind people who pull you down and make you feel bad about yourself.
- Practice positive affirmations daily. Write positive statements about yourself in a journal every day, when you wake up and before you go to bed. Make positivity an everyday habit.
- Be honest. You should love yourself and be honest with yourself and others. Accepting yourself the way you are will help raise your self-confidence.
- Stop giving importance to others’ opinions. If you constantly worry about what others think of you, you will never be able to do what you like. Make choices and decisions based on your wants and needs, not other people’s expectations.
- Stop being a perfectionist. Perfectionism can stop you from taking action, as you are too worried about not doing it perfectly or not being satisfied with your performance. As a result, you procrastinate. Instead of striving for perfection, go for the “good enough” result. Remember the saying, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.”
- Don’t berate yourself for making mistakes. Talk to yourself as a friend would in times of failures. Everyone makes mistakes. Focus on what you can learn from your mistakes and learn to let go of your past.
- Stop repetitive thoughts. Avoid overthinking things. Instead, distract your mind by focusing on something positive.
- Smile more often. Smiling actually changes the blood flow to your brain, and makes you happy and relieves stress. Smiling also releases endorphins that enhance your mood.
- Do exercise. Being physically, mentally and emotionally fit helps you gain better control over yourself and elevates your self-esteem. Go for a brisk walk or do vigorous exercise at least three times a week.
- Eat a well-nourished, balanced diet. If you don’t eat right, it can bring your mood down. You can also gain weight, which only harms your self-esteem more. Plan healthy meals and stick to it. And be proud of your accomplishment.
- Get good amount of sleep. Lack of sleep messes with your mood, thinking and level of irritability. This will only give you more reason to get down on yourself.
- Take care of yourself. When you look your best, it raises your self-confidence and self-esteem. Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Style your hair, trim your nails, floss your teeth and wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
- Stay focused on the present. Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future is usually pointless. You can’t change the past or predict the future. Staying in the moment will also make it easier to focus on the positives in your life.
- Write down three things you are grateful for at the end of the day. Whenever you feel down, you can go through the list to give your self-esteem a boost.
- Do what you enjoy. When you do something you enjoy and become proficient at it, you are raising your self-esteem.
- When you do something good for others, you feel uplifted and valued.
- Get a pet. Pets can give you much-needed attention, affection and unconditional love. They make you feel as if you are the best person in the world. Spending time with your pet will also distract your mind away from negative thoughts and boost your mood.
- Celebrate small achievements. Success cannot be achieved overnight. Start with small steps and gradually reach higher. Be proud of the small steps that you have successfully taken toward your goal.
- Be helpful and considerate. When you are kind to others, you tend to be kind to yourself as well. Take a few minutes to help someone out every day. It could be something as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in a long line.
- Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone regularly and do something challenging. Try to learn a new skill or a new language. Finding the courage to take risks and be open to new things will change your opinion about yourself.
- Do something you have been putting off for a long time. Clean your garden, tidy up your wardrobe, fix your car –do anything that involves making a decision and getting it done. It will be a weight off your shoulders.
- Get relaxed. Do something that is relaxing – maybe a walk, dancing, singing or getting a massage. Anything that will relax you will reduce your stress level. When you are relaxed, your mind tends to focus on good things.
- Go on a trip or an adventurous activity. Getting out of your house and spending time in a different place can help raise your self-confidence.
- Read inspirational material. Be it an autobiography or a self-help book, read something that inspires you and makes you feel good about yourself.
- Take care of your relationships. If you have good, valuable relationships with your friends and family, it boosts your self-esteem.
- Teach a skill. Teach someone something you are good at. It helps you gain a sense of control over yourself and taps into your self-confidence, further giving it a boost.
- Find your passion. Finding your passion or pursuing a long-term goal will help give you a sense of purpose in life. It will raise boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Do the right thing. Always doing what you think is right raises your self-esteem.
- Give and receive physical affection with family and friends. Physical touch strengthens the bond between people. It reduces stress and improves your mood. Give out lots of hugs and kisses.
- Raise your standards. Challenge yourself to do a bit better at work or be a more loving parent. Once you overcome the challenge, you will feel better about yourself.
- Broaden your network of friends. Meeting new people and socializing will help you feel good and also create a new life and career opportunities.
- Set boundaries. Be clear about what you are okay with and what you are not. Don’t allow people to take advantage of you. They can leave you feeling bad about yourself.
- Make amends. If you have hurt someone, apologize and ask for forgiveness. This will help release the negative hold it has over your self-esteem.
- Clear your debts. Living with debts can lower your self-esteem. Becoming debt-free is a great accomplishment, and it gives you new freedom to do things you want to do.
- Quit using substances. Smoking, drinking and doing drugs leads to low self-esteem, as being dependent on these substances makes you feel bad about yourself.
- Be a mentor. Guiding, supporting or mentoring someone will earn you their respect, which will boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Slow down. When you are rushed and overscheduled, you do not have time to make positive changes in your life. You are always stressed and worked up. Create to-do lists and get things done in a timely manner.
- Do not gossip. When you gossip, you subconsciously view yourself in a bad light and it may affect your self-esteem.
- Initiate and make plans. Be an initiator, the one who takes charge. Don’t wait for others to lead the way. As you do it more, it will improve your self-confidence.
- Tame your anger. Anger is usually a sign of low self-worth and despair. Find appropriate ways to control your anger.
- Find productive ways to spend your time. Avoid watching endless hours of TV, playing games or surfing the web. Spend your time on something creative instead. It will increase your self-worth.
- Consider others your equal. Look at everyone you meet as your equal and potential friend, instead of being your competitor.
- Be a learner. Approach all things with a beginner’s mentality, instead of thinking you know it all. This will help you be humble and open-minded.
- Accept compliments. Most of the time, people with low self-esteem brush off compliments. You don’t take them seriously because you think you are not worthy. Instead, absorb the compliments, appreciate them and bask in their glory.
- Don’t be afraid of voicing your opinions. Be fearless when it comes to voicing your opinion and take pride in it. If someone disagrees, they just have a different way of looking at things. Everyone has a right to their own opinions – including you.
- Identify what you can change and what you cannot. If you are not happy with something and you can change it, take action. But if it is something you cannot do anything about, accept it. Obsessing over your shortcomings can lower your self-esteem. In fact, you may be the only one who notices it.
- View success differently. Many people define success according to wealth, status and possessions. Instead, view success as successful and loving relationships, enriching experiences, and meaningful and passionate work.