In search of self-esteem

Mind

Build self-esteem.

What is self-esteem? Basically, it’s how you feel about YOU. Do you like yourself and believe in your abilities? Or do you tend to focus on your faults, defer to the opinions of others, and have trouble saying no?

If you’re trapped in a spiral of low self-worth and negative self-talk, you’re probably unaware of how much better life can be with a little self-confidence. But rest assured, it can be better! And the best part? It’s all within your control. It comes from inside of you, not other people. Hence the term self-esteem.

Here are a few benefits of healthy self-esteem:

  • Better health — People with healthy self-esteem are better able to handle stress and avoid its unhealthy side effects. Researchers now believe that raising your self-esteem is an effective way to help prevent age-related health problems later in life.
  • More happiness — When you have a higher level of self-esteem, you feel better. Happier. More confident. And the happier you feel, the more your self-esteem rises. It’s an upward spiral of self-affirmation.
  • Greater success — It’s easier to accomplish something when you believe you can do it. Just ask any athlete the importance of self-confidence in achieving peak performance. On the other hand, if you believe you can’t do something, you’re bound to prove yourself right.
  • More social ease — When you like yourself, you’re naturally more relaxed in social settings and when meeting new people. Because you’re not relying on the approval of others, you’re free to reach out and embrace new situations without the fear of rejection. You’re also less likely to stay in bad relationships.

Quick self-esteem boosters

Want to build up your self-esteem? Try these simple ego boosters.  

  • Quiet your inner critic. “I can’t do this.” “I’m not attractive enough.” “No one will like me.” Whenever you notice negative thoughts like these going through your head, tell your inner critic to “STOP!” Then reframe your thoughts in the affirmative or think about something else entirely.
  • Take pride in your appearance. When you look good, you feel good. Wear clean, pressed clothes and maintain your personal hygiene.
  • Let go of perfectionism. Thinking everything has to be perfect is a surefire recipe for disappointment and lowered self-esteem. Remember, there’s a difference between doing your best and obsessing. Learn to be happy with good (but not always perfect) results.
  • Keep a self-esteem journal. Once a day, write down at least one thing you like about yourself. It could be a quality you possess, such as patience, or an action you took that day, such as helping a friend. After a few weeks, you can read back through all your entries for an added boost of self-esteem on a day when you’re feeling low.  
  • Exercise. Take a brisk walk daily and aim for more vigorous exercise three times a week. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly benefit from improved self-esteem and better moods. So get those endorphins flowing.
  • Think positively. Revisit the positivity tips you learned in November’s GO Challenge and take a more optimistic view of your life. Avoid negative self-talk, think about all the good things you’ve done lately, and never compare yourself to others. You’re a unique and capable human being. You deserve to feel good about you.
  • Clean up your living space. Everyone feels better in beautiful surroundings. If your home or workspace is a mess, take some time to tidy up (or hire someone to do it for you). Surround yourself with items that make you happy, photos of people you love, and reminders of any achievements.
  • Accomplish something. Give yourself a challenge — something you can realistically expect to achieve — and then do it! It could be a task you’ve been putting off, like cleaning out the junk drawer, or a whole new fun challenge like taking a cooking class.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people. Spend more time with positive, uplifting people — not those who criticize or drag you down. Be careful about your media sources as well. Internet blogs and chat rooms, TV shows and talk radio can all affect your self-esteem and mental well-being.  
  • Do the right thing. When faced with a decision, always take the action that lifts you or someone else up. Go for a walk instead of watching TV, speak up for a principle you believe in, or take the time to call your mom. When you do the right thing, you always feel better about yourself.  

Of course, low self-esteem can stem from a number of serious causes: loss of a job, a divorce, poor relationships, health problems, disabilities, childhood traumas, abuse and more. If you need help in dealing with any underlying issues, you might want to speak to a mental health professional.

Here’s one more confidence booster to try:

  • Be a friend to yourself. Oftentimes, we know just what to say to others, but not to ourselves, when we’re feeling low. Next time, instead of falling into the same old negative thought patterns, ask yourself: What advice would I give to my best friend? And then say those kind words to YOU.