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How To Improve Self-Esteem: 10 Proven Tips Will Boost Your Self-Worth

Learn how to take more pride in yourself with these expert tips.
by Rob Gillham | Dec 5 2022

Increasing our feelings of self-worth is important to many of us. Higher self-esteem not only makes us feel better about ourselves but also makes us more resilient.

Brain scan studies have shown that people with higher self-esteem are less likely to experience common emotional wounds like rejection and failure as painful and are more likely to bounce back from them more quickly. High self-esteem also makes us less susceptible to stress; we release less cortisol into our bloodstream when under stress, and it is less likely to linger.

As wonderful as it is to have higher self-esteem, it turns out that improving it is not an easy task. The reality is that despite the endless array of articles, programs, and products promising to boost our self-esteem, many of them don’t work and may even worsen it.

A part of the problem that our self-esteem is rather unstable to begin with, as it fluctuates on a daily, if not hourly basis. However, by using some essential tips it is possible to build up and strengthen our self-esteem even when it appears fragile at times. 

Here are our top tips on how to improve self-esteem. Let’s get started! 

How Does Self-Esteem Work?

We define self-esteem as how we value and view ourselves. It’s more than how we look; it’s how much we respect ourselves and how worthy we feel compared to others. As a result, self-esteem is often generated by self-assessment.

We can make decisions, assert ourselves, try new things, move past mistakes and more based on our self-esteem. Our mental health depends on developing a healthy sense of self-esteem.

Low Self-Esteem Is Caused by What?

Early childhood experiences may contribute to low self-esteem. Negative core beliefs about yourself can develop as a result of not fitting in at school, not meeting your parents’ expectations, or being neglected or abused. People have ingrained beliefs about themselves.

On social media and in the media generally, teenagers, especially young girls, may be subjected to unhelpful messages and ideals that lead them to believe that their worth depends on how they look or behave. Their self-esteem may be low, and they may have negative thoughts about their worth as a result.

Low self-esteem can also be caused by poor performance at school or bullying. Low self-esteem may also be caused by stressful life events, such as an unhappy relationship, a bereavement, or a serious illness.

How Does Low Self-Esteem Affect Your Life?

Having low self-esteem can make it difficult to maintain relationships and cause problems at work or school. Criticism or disapproval may cause you to withdraw from activities and people. In order to avoid being judged or measured by others, you should avoid doing anything where you may be judged or measured.

A person with low self-esteem may stop taking care of their appearance; another may overcompensate by always looking perfect. Having problems with your body image, drinking too much alcohol, or taking drugs might also be contributing factors, as well as not standing up for yourself when you are bullied or abused.

A teenager with low self-esteem may drink or use drugs to feel better or to fit in, may have a poor body image, and may engage in sexual activity earlier than their peers.

How To Improve Your Self-Esteem

1. Embrace your true worth

A simple exercise has been shown to restore self-esteem after a blow: Make a list of the qualities you possess that are relevant to the situation.

You can, for instance, list qualities that make you a good relationship prospect if you were rejected by your date (for example, loyalty or emotional availability); if you were not promoted at work, list qualities that made you valuable (work ethic or responsibility). Afterward, choose one of the items on your list and write a short essay about why it is valuable and likely to be appreciated by others in the future.

You can do the exercise every day for a week or whenever you need to boost your self-esteem. It is true that improving self-esteem takes a bit of work since it involves developing and maintaining healthier emotional habits, but doing so, and doing so correctly, will provide a great emotional and psychological return.

2. Introduce self-compassion instead of self-criticism 

We are likely to damage our self-esteem even further when we are self-critical when we have low self-esteem. We need to substitute self-criticism (which is almost always useless, even if it feels compelling) with self-compassion in order to enhance our self-esteem.

Ask yourself what you would say to a dear friend if they were in your situation (we tend to be much more compassionate to friends than we are to ourselves) whenever your self-critical inner monologue starts up and direct those comments at yourself. By doing so, you will be able to build up your self-esteem instead of damaging it further with critical thoughts.

3. Embrace compliments

In order to improve self-esteem, it can be difficult to accept compliments when you feel bad about yourself, even though that is when you need them most. Set yourself the goal of tolerating compliments, even if they make you uncomfortable (and they will).

Prepare simple set responses and train yourself to use them automatically whenever you receive good feedback (e.g., “Thank you” or “How kind of you to say”). Eventually, the impulse to deny or rebuff compliments will fade – which is a good sign that your self-esteem is rising.

4. Build your competencies by identifying them and developing them

Demonstrating real ability and achievement in areas of our lives that matter to us builds self-esteem. Throw more dinner parties if you pride yourself on being a good cook.

Sign up for races and train for them if you’re a good runner. Finding opportunities and careers that accentuate your core competencies is the key to finding success. 

5. Positive affirmations should be used correctly

Affirmations are extremely popular, but they have one critical flaw – they tend to make people with low self-worth feel worse about themselves. What’s the reason? We simply cannot accept such declarations when our self-esteem is low.

The positive affirmations do work for one subset of people – those with high self-esteem. When your self-esteem is low, tweak your affirmations to make them more credible.

6. Challenge yourself

There are times when we feel nervous or afraid to do things. People with healthy self-esteem, however, do not let these feelings deter them from trying new things.

You can set yourself a goal, such as joining an exercise class or attending a social event. By achieving your goals, you will increase your self-esteem.

7. Say “no” more often

It is common for people with low self-esteem to feel forced to say yes to other people, even when they do not really want to.

You run the risk of becoming overburdened, resentful, angry, and depressed. The majority of the time, saying no does not upset relationships. Until they get the message, it can be helpful to keep saying no, but in different ways.

8. Assert yourself

Having assertiveness means respecting other people’s opinions and needs and expecting the same in return.

To act assertively, look at others who act assertively and copy them. It’s not about pretending to be someone you’re not. You learn from people you admire and let your true self shine through.

9. Take care of yourself

When you feel like criticizing yourself, being kind to yourself means being gentle with yourself. Consider what you would say to a friend in a similar situation. Often, we give better advice to others than to ourselves.

10. Establish positive relationships

Spend less time with people who tend to bring you down, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions. Build relationships with positive and appreciative people.

Want more tips to improve your life? We’ve covered how to create a career map, how to improve short term memory, and how to improve your posture.

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