Self-esteem generally is the belief you have about yourself and the abilities you possess. When you have a high opinion of yourself, you get motivated to do great things.
A good example is Sarah, a woman who grew up facing constant criticism and lived in an unhealthy home environment where her parents fought frequently. Eventually, her parents divorced, and this affected her. As an adult, Sarah was a reserved person who lived in constant fear of judgment. She later realised that she needed to overcome her insecurity and become more confident in her abilities. Her low self-esteem affected not only her relationships but her professional life too. She couldn’t thrive in her professional environment because she was afraid of taking risks since she didn’t see herself as capable as other professionals. She started working on her self-esteem with her therapist’s help, and exposure to positive content (like what you are reading right now) helped her as well. Slowly she improved and went on to grow as a person and as a professional. Today she is a young executive in a thriving company, and her high self-esteem and confidence are evident. The future is no doubt bright for her.
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Steps To Do Before You Start Activating Various Tips To Raise Your Self-esteem
Many of us are eager to start something new. Something similar to a new year’s resolution. After a few days, most of us give up, and we end up saying, “I did not make it”. Please don’t execute the tips below until you are ready. Otherwise, most likely, you will be wearing yourself thin, and instead of boosting your self-esteem, you may end feeling even worse. It’s a vicious cycle most of us have visited from time to time. Let’s break it.
As a counsellor and psychotherapist, I would like to suggest a few steps before practising any of the tips mentioned in the blog.
Steps – How To Successfully Boost Your Self-esteem?
Visualize your goals
– Create awareness and motivation for change.
– Sit with your thoughts. Write down your reflections.
– Write your triggers to your low self-esteem.
– Next, visualise how boosting your self-esteem will help you. There are many techniques available for visualisation.
– Visualise how changes will make you see yourself differently.
– How will others see you differently?
– Use all your senses to picture your goals. Put in the colours, the sounds, the touch, the taste and the smell.
– When you have a goal that strongly motivates you, then ask yourself, “What will you do to sabotage yourself?”. All of us are good at sabotaging ourselves.
– Answer your question.
– Ponder what you can do to pull yourself back on the right track when you realise you are sabotaging yourself.
– Start with the activities you like from the list below.
– Give yourself at least 21 days to pursue.
– If you pause or stop, give yourself permission to stand up again.
– Do not beat yourself with guilt. Be Nurturing to yourself.
– The tip you decided to follow may not be suitable for you. Go for another activity.
Overcoming Low-Self Esteem Tips
Is your story similar to Sarah’s? If you currently feel insecure, unmotivated, and your opinion about yourself is anything but good, you will need to do something about it. Before you do something about your low self-esteem, first acknowledge that you have this issue. After you establish that you indeed have low self-esteem, consider implementing some measures to change your perspective about yourself.
Here are helpful tips to improve your low self-esteem.
1. Be Your Own Best Friend
Being your own best friend means being friendly to yourself, treating yourself well, loving yourself first, and speaking positive things to yourself. Pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself after doing something great and think only positive thoughts. Think of the best friend you would love to have and be that person to yourself.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself To Other People
You will feel horrible when you start comparing yourself to other people around you. Instead, focus on your goals and achievements and never measure them against anyone else’s. Just do your thing as your best know-how and look for positive ways to improve your life. Avoid subjecting yourself to pressure to keep up with others who seem better than you.
3. Keep Physically Fit
Exercising is a fantastic way of increasing motivation. Adopt a fitness program and set fitness goals. Breaking sweat will make your body release endorphins which are feel-good hormones that you need to feel better. When your physical body looks great, you will be confident to interact in circles, give ideas. People will believe in you because of the impression you give.
4. Embrace Your Imperfections
You can always work hard to be the best version of yourself. Accept that perfection is unrealistic, and you can’t achieve it 100%. However, you can embrace your flaws and think of ways to use them to your advantage as you work on improvement. Nobody is perfect, so find comfort in that.
5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Mistakes
It’s human to err, and you are not an exception. Reflect on what went wrong and don’t kick yourself or feel guilty. Instead, move on quickly and apply the lesson learnt from the mistake to avoid repeating it. Learn to accept both the successes and failures as part of your growth. It means you are making a great effort to better yourself, and that is a major self-esteem booster right there.
6. Focus On The Things You Can Change
It is easy to get caught in things in your life that you can never change. Please don’t waste time on those because they will only send your self-esteem on a downward plummet. Look at yourself as the driver in your vehicle rather than the passenger. Take charge and decide the routes that are available to you and ignore the dead-end roads. All of us have many blocked pathways in front of us, making it difficult to change. And give yourself permission by saying, “That’s ok too. Let me see how I can live with them positively.” Please write down the things you are not happy with within your life and the diverse choices you have at your disposal to change them.
7. Do Things That Make You Happy
Spend your time doing things you enjoy. Spending quality time on your hobbies, with friends, exercising that gives a smile on your face will help you boost your self-esteem positively. Take time every day and do these things that make you happy. It could be cooking, reading, or even just idling on your porch deep in your wild thoughts. Create time for things that make you happy. I enjoy watching Korean dramas. What about you?
8. Celebrate Small Wins
Did you get up earlier than you usually do every morning and did a couple of useful things? Did you finally land that job after many months of searching, or did you lose 2pounds? Celebrate the small victories in your life. Doing so is an effective way of building confidence and feeling great about yourself. You can write down these small wins, and whenever you start feeling depressed, look at them and appreciate how far you have come.
9. Be Kind To Others
Offer a helping hand, be kind and considerate to other people around you. As you boost their mood and make them happy, you will, in turn, feel great about yourself. Therefore, speak kind words, offer a helping hand when required, and use your talents and skills to help others learn something or solve problems and be naturally kind.
10. Surround Yourself With Positive And Supportive People
Have friends and companions who make you feel great about yourself. Avoid people who influence negative thoughts in you. Many times, this is not possible. For example, there may be nagging and complaining parents, siblings, and close family relatives. It may be best to cut short your stay with them to as little time as possible. Remember, you need all the positive energy you can find to build your self-esteem.
11. Learn A New Skill
When you become skilled in something you find exciting and need not be perfect, it gives you happiness. It will significantly boost your self-esteem. I learned to paint. Even though I was not good, I had joy seeing my creations come to life. What about you? Below is the image of something I made. And I have learnt to pat my efforts.
12. Get Rid Of Your Limiting Beliefs
You cannot make progress if you still have limiting beliefs entrenched in your mind. You have to forget these limiting beliefs and forge forward. Limiting beliefs prevent you from achieving your true potential, making you feel negative about yourself. For example, if you believe that people from your home area don’t accomplish much, you will hardly work hard because you think it is in vain. Negative thinking impacts your self-esteem. Restore your faith in yourself. Begin by believing that you can amount to something even if you come from that area where they don’t make it.
13. Move From Your Comfort Zone
Open your mind to new possibilities and move from your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable and try something new. Meet different people and unconventionally deal with issues. Go to the very edge of your comfort zone and begin building your confidence. I decided to wear clothes of different fashion and chunky jewellery. I moved away, and today I sometimes don’t recognise myself
14. Move On And Heal From Your Past
Your past will always be in the past, and you can’t change anything about it. Therefore deal with any unresolved issues from your past because they can make you trapped in low self-esteem. You could seek therapy to help you move on in a confident and self-assured way if your past is too painful for you. I like Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, Transactional Analysis therapy and Brainspotting therapy that help you process your past issues, heal yourself and move forward towards a happy and peaceful present and future.
15. Stop Worrying About What Others Think Of You
Constantly worrying about what others think will hinder you from being completely free to do the things you love and be yourself. Purpose: stop worrying about what others think and always make your choices based on what you want and not what others want or will think about you. It is not easy. However, when you become aware of your thought process, look at your positives and pat yourself. Each one of us has our insecurities. Others have it as well.
16. Find Inspiration Around You
Find inspiration in your surroundings. It could be nature, books, music, interacting with children, or your form of religion. Be inspired to live better, become a better human being and stay positive because that will do a lot for your self-esteem.
17. Get Creative
Think of exciting creative tasks that you could do. Remember, creative assignments are a fantastic way of putting the flow back into your life. Creativity stimulates your brain and makes you think outside the box. You could take out your old guitar and strum some tunes, begin writing a book, poem, or a story, take a dance class or sign up in some theatre group if your passion is acting. The challenge of trying new things or creative tasks you are already good at will make you feel great about yourself.
18. Improve Your Appearance
Your appearance will do a lot in boosting your self-esteem. You could, for example, consider changing your hairstyle to something better looking than the current hairdo, changing your wardrobe, dressing like a confident person, and looking your best in general. When you appear your best, you will feel your best. For example, even during Covid-19 lockdown, when I met up with clients over zoom or facilitated webinars (though most of them could not see me), I ensured I dressed up with my makeup on to boost my confidence.
19. Create Those Personal Boundaries
You can regain your self-esteem by becoming aware and then creating personal boundaries. Decide how you would respond when people cross them. Don’t allow others to control you or manipulate you. Inspire respect from others by not allowing disrespect and being respectable yourself, for example. Maintaining firm boundaries in your life is a great way to remain confident and give your self-esteem a significant boost.
20. Be the Learner
See yourself as a lifelong learner. Approach every new experience or new things you encounter with a student’s curiosity. Have the beginner’s mind, which is always open, enthusiastic, unbiased, and willing to learn. Learning is refreshing and satisfying when you embrace it. It will do great for your self-esteem. I decided to pursue my second career as a psychotherapist and counsellor at the age of 35. I am proud to say I have done well for myself. I enjoy my learning journey. What about you?
21. Face Your Fears
Courage is not the absence of fear. Each one of us has our worries and fears. Learn to handle your concerns will boost your self-confidence. Fear is like a balloon. If you blow it, the balloon will expand. If you continuously struggle with anxiety, the shadow grows and sometimes overwhelms you. Learn to prick your fear bit by bit. The balloon or your fear will burst, and you will be at ease with yourself. It’s to feel scared, and it’s ok to muster up the courage to face it. If you are not ready to do it alone, ask for help. Your family, friends can help and if they are not approachable, seek therapy. Remember, self-esteem is usually a war between your greatest desires and your deepest fears. Don’t let the fears win, face them head-on and make progress in your life. Overcoming your fear is a great way.
22. Do not Label Yourself Negatively
“I am stupid”, the more frequently we say this to ourselves, the deeper our belief about ourselves. Stop labelling yourself as timid, shy, ugly, or awkward even when you are joking about it. Stop discounting yourself or your abilities. When you do this, you are subconsciously directing your mind to act according to these negative labels. Psychologically you will feel inclined to live up to the tags you have placed on yourself. Awareness is the key to pause labelling negatively. As soon as you become aware, pause, be mindful, maybe take a deep breath and speak positively about yourself. Visualise and label yourself using words like strong, confident, reliable, winner, beautiful, unique, and courageous, and so on, even when you don’t feel you are. When you strongly believe in yourself and act accordingly, these positive qualities will naturally come. Our brain’s language is images. Visualisation helps our brain to create new neuro pathways to our healing goals.
23. Recognise That the World Does Not Revolve Around You
How many times you thought, “What will they think of me?”. “Are they judging me?”. Truthfully and sometimes, sadly, people may not have time to peep into your world. It means that you do not need to be excessively sensitive about who you are and what you are doing or are not doing. Once again, awareness is the key. Maybe if you ask a few people around you who you can trust, you may realise that they do not think the same way as you. You are not the apple of the world’s eye, which is why you should not be preoccupied with yourself and achieving perfection. Forget about trying to please everyone because you will put too much pressure on yourself and create unnecessary anxiety. Remember, people all around you are preoccupied with their issues and will not pay attention to every move you make unless you are a celebrity. Even if you are a favourite celebrity, people still carry on with their lives because of their interest in you wanes after some time.
A smile will instantly boost your confidence. Flashing a smile, especially if you are around people, will immediately make you appear confident and composed. Keep in mind that smiling has an external effect. However, studies have also indicated that smiling is an excellent way of relieving stress or any anxieties you might have and paving the way for a more relaxed feeling. When you are alone, do try laughter therapy. Laughter helps you relax and, in turn, boosts your confidence.
25. Always Sit Up Straight And Walk Tall
Body language matters. Try a few body postures. When you slouch, what do you notice? When you open your arms wide across, how are you feeling? Where do you notice this in your body? I usually suggest open postures for self-confidence, like just before an interview or an exam. Even two minutes of practising relaxed and open body postures help to build much needed positive energy. The correct stance will keep your self-esteem and mood on the higher side. You will also think confidently. When sitting, open your chest and keep your head level so that you can look and feel poised and assured. When getting up, stand tall and walk with purpose. People who sit up straight and walk tall are attractive and feel confident. Try it from today.
Low self-esteem is a chronic issue in our society. You are not alone. If you happen to be one, embrace the above tips in your life and notice a significant change in your life. Be determined to get out of this form of mental slavery, and you will see the benefits. You will wish you did it sooner. Remember, as some saying goes, “Confidence is not walking into a room and thinking you are better than everyone. It’s walking in and not having to compare yourself to anyone at all.” You are you, an incredible and unique human being with great potential.
A word of caution – every change requires time and commitment. Please give yourself time before you give up and say to yourself, “Look, I told you, You are a failure. You cannot do it.” If you forget to practice for a day or two, don’t berate yourself; instead, give yourself permission to continue and not feel guilty.
I wish you success in your endeavours to boost your self-esteem. Do share your success stories, your frustrations in pursuing any of the above, plus your stories that did not go down well.