How to Improve Self-esteem | 7 Powerful Tips
By far, the most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Our sense of self-esteem underpins how we view ourselves and, consequently, how we interact with the world around us.
What is Self-esteem, and Why is It Important?
Self-esteem is the subjective, personal view of our worth or value as human being. Self-esteem affects our life significantly. When our self-esteem is high, we feel empowered and worthy of a good life. This allows us to follow our dreams and set boundaries.
However, when our self-esteem is low, we feel like we are not deserving of happiness. We struggle to follow our dreams and goals because of a lack of confidence. We find it difficult to raise our opinions or set boundaries.
Where Does Self-esteem Come From?
Our self-esteem is based on our early childhood experiences with our primary caregivers. A good sense of self-esteem is developed when a caregiver can provide us with a supportive and safe environment to come back to when we go out and explore the world.
We also need our caregivers to validate our emotions, thoughts, and feelings for us to internalize a feeling of worth and confidence. When our caregivers are critical, invalidating, overprotective or transgress our boundaries, the message we internalize is “I am not worthy of love, my feelings are not valid, and I cannot do anything alone”.
Self-esteem and Mental Health
Having low self-esteem is a massive aggravating factor in disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as a factor in general poor mental health. Anxiety is often underpinned by the feeling of “I cannot handle this”, and depression often feels like “This is hopeless, I am hopeless”.
These feelings and beliefs are directly related to our self-esteem. In therapy, when we work on self-esteem, we see that these feelings get lighter, allowing us to explore the world with confidence and live a life that feels good to us.
7 Tips to Improve Self-esteem
Even if you did not grow up with high self-esteem, it is still something that you can develop with a little guidance! Here are some top tips for improving your self-esteem:
1. Stop Comparing
When we compare ourselves to others and their lives, we are essentially telling ourselves what we do or who we are is dependent on an external, non-existent indicator of worth. No two lives are the same, and we all have different values of what brings us joy and what we consider to be important. We are all on different paths and what we see is only what others allow us to see; it is not always a true reflection anyway!
2. Celebrate Uniqueness
Often our self-esteem is affected because we feel different from other people. Maybe we have different goals or ideals of “perfect”, and we internalize this as a bad thing. However, all your unique attributes make you into the person you are.
Celebrate your uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. This removes a false standard, so you can appreciate yourself and the unique things you have to offer. Imagine how dull the world would be if we were all the same.
3. Remember, People are Not Paying That Much Attention
Often, we are so hard on ourselves and constantly compare our abilities to others. We also have a morbid fear that others will judge us or what we do. To let you in on a little secret, people rarely care as much about our lives as we think they do.
So, all that concern about others seeing you as worthy becomes less concerning when we realize people are so consumed with their own lives, they are not spending time thinking of what we are doing, and if they are, their own self-esteem is probably low.
4. Focus On Your Life Script
If you focus on what feels good to you, your own purpose and meaning and what you deem worthy in life, you will feel much better than if you simply tried to engineer your life to follow the norm.
Find your worth in living a life wherein you create your own script of what is worthy to you instead of following society’s imaginary script.
5. Perfection is an Illusion; Let Go of The Fantasy
Often, our self-esteem is dependent on how subjectively well we do something. We tend to only feel worthy if we are “perfect”.
However, there is no objective measure of perfection; it does not exist. If you are constantly living for perfection, you will never reach a state of self-value as things can always be improved or changed. You are worthy no matter how subjectively good or bad you are doing something.
6. Set Goals and Create Purpose By Yourself
Nothing increases self-worth like having a game plan! When we feel like we are progressing, growing, and working towards goals, we feel accomplished. This naturally increases our self-esteem.
If we wander into life with no game plan, we can feel lost, and this lack of direction affects our internal experience of ourselves.
7. Give Back and Be Nice
Giving is truly the best gift. The reason people say this is, when we can do something good for someone else, we naturally feel like we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves and increases our sense of value. If you want to feel nice, be nice!