How to Increase Your Self Esteem
Self esteem refers to the respect and opinion you have of yourself. It is how you judge and value your own talents experiences, skills and attributes. A job loss, relationship troubles or a poor mark at university can all leave you feeling poorly but your self-esteem involves more than the normal ups and downs that most people can experience each day. If you have fundamentally healthy and strong self-esteem, these variations will have a limited overall effect on how you view yourself. If, however, your self-esteem is poor, consequences can include:
- Anxiety, sadness and isolation
- Relationship troubles
- Compromised job and university performance
- Inability to function at your optimal capacity
- Substance abuse
These consequences can all decrease self-esteem further while creating a negative self-image and leading a person into a path of unhealthy behaviours. Of particular concern is the potential for a person to become depressed, so ideally you will increase your self esteem and foster a positive self-image before you reach that point.
Overcome Shyness and Be YourselfShyness can be a barrier to obtaining a healthy level of self-esteem when it prevents you from doing and enjoying various things such as social activities, new hobbies or challenges. Most people experience shyness from time-to-time, particularly if placed in a new and overwhelming situation. Shyness tends to stem from a fear of saying the wrong thing, or making the wrong move in a situation. A shy person then feels guilt and uses destructive phrases such as 'I'm worthless' and 'I can't do it,' or 'Nobody will like me if I say the wrong thing.' The wonderful part about overcoming shyness is that each time you do it, your self-esteem will improve and it will be just a little bit easier the next time. Some of the ways you can connect better with people are to:
- Smile-this can help you to appear more confident, which will help you feel more comfortable.
- Dress-present yourself in a way that you feel relaxed, positive and self-assured to others.
- Be positive-people are more likely to be drawn to positive people and will be more likely to warm to you.
Avoid BraggingIndividuals who brag about their qualities and experiences are generally trying to obtain attention to 'prove' themselves to others. This is often because they don't view themselves as worthy and deserving of the respect and admiration they demand. If you find that you feel the need to prove your worth to others by bragging, and that your self-esteem is dependent on their approval, it is probably time to put the focus back on yourself. Take this opportunity to:
- Write down the qualities you tend to 'brag about.' Look at these individually and think about whether you truly believe they are a part of you, or if you merely wish they were a part of you.
- Think about how you can successfully integrate these qualities so that you genuinely feel and exhibit them.
Compliment Yourself RegularlyIf you learn to appreciate your skills and qualities, you won't feel the need to 'convince' others of these qualities and will let your attributes speak for themselves. Poor self-esteem stems from a low valuing of oneself and it's important that you learn ways to obtain a stronger and more realistic self-perception. For example, you can be aware of areas that you need to work on, but should try to make it a habit to focus on the positive areas that will allow you to overcome the weaker ones. Many individuals get so caught up in the negative that they neglect to realize they have the power to alter these negative thoughts and actions with their good qualities.
Some people also find that daily affirmations can be helpful, where you state positive ideals that you wish to strive for-this lets you build on qualities you already have. You may know that you are kind, but struggle with shyness, so perhaps you have a hard time doing some of the kind things you wish to do? You may try a daily affirmation by saying: 'Today I will do something kind and helpful for one person.'
Learn From Mistakes and RejectionWhen things don't go as planned, it can seem like your entire life has failed but the reality is that one mishap does not equate to a life consuming disaster. Be prepared to admit to your faults and struggles, but don't view your entire self as a failure. Failures involve personal actions and consequences; a failure is something that you do, not something that you are.
One option for improving self-esteem may seem counterproductive but it is potentially very helpful. If you're feeling very negative about yourself right now, use this as an opportunity to evaluate yourself and make changes in areas that you wish to improve. By gathering courage and using a realistic assessment of areas that you're not happy with, you look at ways to change these into positive growth and achievement. In a sense, you will be using a personally disappointing past action or personal quality to strengthen your self-esteem. Armed with stronger self-esteem and confidence, you will be able to lead a more positive life.