10 tips for building self esteem

by Crystal on January 29, 2009

Self-Esteem for sale
Image by fran6co via Flickr

Negative self-esteem can really hold you back. It stops you achieving your true potential. Not only does it keep you from your best efforts, but can lead to an inferiority complex that kills off the joys of life in no time. People with low self-esteem end up withdrawing into a shell and can feel so much out of the stream of life that it’s not unusual to hit depression or various social phobias.  Been there, done that.  Not fun.

On the other hand, a positive self-esteem can literally lighten the load. It helps us become achievers, gives you the bounce that gets you out of bed in the morning, and the drive to truly grab life with both hands.

Having lived both ways, I’ll take the second any time.

Building Self Esteem

Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy one-step answer to building self esteem.  It takes time, just as anything worthwhile does. Like any new habit, it will be harder in the beginning, but gets easier as you learn it. It also doesn’t take huge efforts: you can take any approach that’s right for you – either small slow steps or if you prefer, giant leaps. Either will help you progress towards building your self esteem. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, (and this little article is in no way intended to replace getting professional help) but I have been there and dug my way back out, so in the interests of sharing, here are 10 ways to build your own self-esteem.

1. Don’t speak badly about yourself

Speaking negatively about yourself – either aloud to others, or more insidiously in the dialogue within your head – has a lot to do with perpetuating low self-esteem. Nothing comes out of a vacuum. Low esteem comes out of believing you’re not worth a lot, and/or devaluing your skills. Constantly dwelling on your failures and the fact that you have all the negatives hidden inside you make it all but impossible to build self-esteem.

If you catch yourself saying or thinking something bad about yourself, try saying “cancel that” and replacing it with something good, or if you can’t manage that, at least neutral.

2. Do something worthwhile

Once you do something worthwhile, it raises you in your own eyes. Your beliefs about your ability broaden. You feel as if you have a lot more stored inside you to offer to this world. Instantly, your self-esteem grows.

The more strongly you give, the more you get back.  We’re all connected, so you’re really helping yourself.  Low self-esteem can stop you from allowing yourself to receive, though, so by directing it to others you get double benefits: you feel good, and they give you their gratitude too.

3. Teach others

Once you start teaching others, you begin to feel both useful and better-off.  I’m not talking about financially, but especially when you teach disadvantaged people, or others with similar self-esteem issues to the ones you have, you start seeing you don’t have it so bad after all. This naturally raises you to a higher level of self esteem.

Think of it, when you teach someone, you feel that what you have to offer is worth something to others. With a feeling of helping and the sense of mastery you get from showing someone else, comes a feeling of psychological self-satisfaction you can’t beat.

4. Use self-esteem workshops

Self- esteem workshops teach through mp3 downloads, voice modules, interactive programs and/or face to face lessons. They use innovative methods to build your self esteem and can be a great help. It’s even more so when you can find teachers who are masters at training and know how to work with your personal learning style.

The best part, though, is that by doing these workshops, you see and experience that you’re not alone.  That’s a powerful remedy to depression and some of the other side-effects of low self-esteem.

5. Keep positive company

Losers and pessimists show you the grey aspect of life. They look for the negatives, always. For them, it’s always the case of “a grey cat sitting on a grey fence looking at the grey clouds”. If you surround yourself in people picking fault with life, anything they encounter in it, and/or you then you are likely to struggle to see the good points that you need to believe in yourself.  Cut negative company out.  If you can’t do that, then at least cut it back, and make sure you have at least one session a day of positive, upbeat company.  Even if you just use an mp3 track to do it.

BTW, the best way to encourage positive people to want to hang around you is to be positive yourself.  Give compliments, express your admiration and focus on making others feel good about themselves.  You’ll find it won’t be long til you’re hooked up to people who do the same for you.

6. Think of all the positive things about yourself

You have a lot of wonderful qualities within you. No doubt there are people you love who see them more clearly than you – try to think of what things they’ve told you they love, or that you believe they like about you. As a starter, many low-self esteem people are generous and giving (usually to everyone but themselves).

Just think of all the things that you appreciate in others, and you’ll often find you’ve demonstrated them yourself.  Start appreciating that. There’s a beautiful light that you have to shine on the world, that nobody else can.  Allow it to start shining.

7. Take life’s challenges

Don’t shy away from the challenges of life thinking that you will fail or perhaps you are not good enough for it. Take small steps and start accepting the little challenges that come your way.  Push yourself to grow.  If you face each challenge as it comes and successfully meet most of them, you will start to realise that you truly are a capable and strong person. Someone of value.

Here’s a small challenge to start you off.  Say ‘no’ to something.  Start putting your needs back onto the list with everyone else’s.  The objective is to end up with them on the top, but just getting them on there is a great start.  If you’re feeling overloaded (most victim types are, since they accept everyone else’s priorities and needs over their own) try asking your supervisor at work, or yourself at home, what things you can get help with, give to someone else, or drop off the list.

8. Look to be assertive

Assertion and not aggression is the point to mull over. When negative minded people come on strong, they become aggressive. This is because of internal guilt and complexes, and a belief in the win/lose philosophy. When positive minded people come out strongly, they look to be assertive. This assertion helps them find the win/win outcome in most situations, because they refuse to allow others to gain their own objectives (win) by trampling all over them (lose). Obviously, finding solutions that meet the needs and respect the boundaries of ALL concerned, brings out a lot of positive energy and helps in building self-esteem further.

9. Give yourself deadlines and stand by them

When you choose to accept work or tasks from others, make the effort to stand by deadlines and do whatever it takes to meet them. Once you start this regularly, you will feel that your word is valuable, and you are good enough for any task or hurdle that life brings to you. As others start learning to value your word, and your commitment, automatically, it increases your self-esteem.

Just remember to be selective in what you choose to commit to.  You’re looking for win/win that respects you and your needs/time as well.  It’s also very self-affirming when you choose to say ‘No’ to something that doesn’t feel right for you.

10. Explore Your Sexuality

This one is last because you want to be a bit careful here.  When your self-esteem begins to wither, you generally end up losing any interest you had in sex. If you don’t like yourself, how can you like or enjoy your body?  The worst part of living the victim mentality is that some people will take part in sex just to please their partners, and because they don’t believe their own wants matter.  If that’s you, then your best bet is to say no until you can choose to do this for your own enjoyment, as well as for your partner’s.

When you find a partner who treasures you, though, there is no better boost to feeling good about yourself.  Even more when you get comfortable enough to start exploring what you like, want and don’t want.  This is why expressing yourself sexually is so important in keeping alive and building up your self-esteem.   There’s something about feeling honoured and treasured that just cuts straight to the heart of the issue.  That’s another reason to be careful in choosing your partners.  You want to express yourself physically only with people you like and respect, and who you feel will respect and like you.

As with number 9, though, remember that it’s always your right to say no to anything that you don’t want to do.

11. Saying No

I’ve mentioned this in a few points above, but one of the most affirming things you can do to prove your self-importance and increase the value you hold in your own eyes, is to start being choosy about how and where you say ‘Yes’, and starting to selectively practise assertion by occasionally saying ‘No’.

The message this sends, to yourself as well as the world, is that you are not a pushover, and your time/energy is valuable too.  Isn’t that a powerful, self-affirming message to start to send out?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Roberta September 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

This is a great article!!! Thanks so much.

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