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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence, how we see and feel about ourselves, and encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth.

Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to improve your self esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self worth.

What is self-esteem

While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect”, put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within. From a belief in your importance, your value and your worthiness.

Where does low self-esteem come from

Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem.

  • An unhappy childhood – Those who grew up with critical, abusive or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth; while those who experienced acceptance, approval and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.
  • Traumatic experiences – Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as something someone said to you or something someone did. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt or lack of worth.
  • Experiences of failure – For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments or lack thereof – including experiences of failure, not achieving goals or expectations.
  • Negative self-talk – Many ‘cases’ of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe.

Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look, it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too much of anything really, or not enough of something else.

What happens when you lack self-esteem

Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings and challenges with long-term unemployment.

On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential.

Assess your own self-esteem

Individuals with low, or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent and even unlovable. While they often know at a ‘conscious’ level these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deeply within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky. It’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure and worry about what others think.

On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear ‘cocky’, narcissistic and self-important.

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This infographic has illustrated the differences between people with high self-esteem people and people with low self-esteem:[1]

    Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is an important as we go through life.

    How to be build self-esteem (a step-by-step guide)

    Self-esteem issues essentially are found in the gap between who you presently ARE and who you think you SHOULD be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

    Building your self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. But, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

    Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

    1. Get to the root cause, the real issue

    Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

    We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you? Perhaps your parents said you were ‘never good enough’ or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self esteem.

    Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

    While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth. You can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source. It won’t’ be easy, but if you want to build your self-esteem, it needs to be done.

    2. See yourself how others see you

    See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world. Unconditionally.

    Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you. What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

    3. Do your best

    “Do your best every day”

    — My Dad

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    Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

    Now, your best might change from day to day – and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. That’s ok. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now – at that moment, on that day, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge, you name it.

    When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you can.

    I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is Yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

    4. Engage in activities that satisfy you

    They key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

    Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind and spirit; and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

    Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right or taking care of your body) and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

    When you engage in something that makes you feel good and even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

    5. Identify who YOU are and be true to you

    Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and your self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing who you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.

    Spend time getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include

    • identifying your strengths and talents
    • acknowledging your value and worth, uncovering your passions
    • understanding your values and what’s important to you
    • thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
    • acknowledging your blind spots

    6. Accept yourself

    Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

    We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

    7. Stop compromising yourself

    When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important”. I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own – and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

    Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved and to be acknowledged. But if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

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    “Never chase love, affection or attention. If it isn’t given freely by another person, it isn’t worth having”

    How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

    Be strong. Be assertive. Stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need. Identify what you want in, and for, your life.

    Decide what is important to you. Naming these thing will give you an ‘inner compass’ to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up or politely say ‘no’, you have the ‘back-up’ and inner guidance to do so.

    8. Look for the good

    We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

    The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

    The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

    The easiest way to change what you see? Change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

    Try this: grab a journal, and for the next 21 days–each and every day–write down 3 things you value, appreciate or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

    9. Stop negative self-talk

    Much of your belief systems come from the negative ‘story’ you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the worthless mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen in your belief systems.

    Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

    Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today.

    10. Find your tribe

    Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging and supporting people.

    Now, I’m not saying you need to surround yourself with a bunch of Pollyannas who constantly throw sparkles and compliments your way. It has to be sincere and true.

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    Find people who know the real you – people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth; people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

    Find your people. Find your tribe.

    11. Take chances

    Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t ‘meant to be on TV’ and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

    Taking chances, experiencing failure and building resilience is key to increasing one’s self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

    Each time you overcome a small challenge or bounce back from a set-back, you build that muscle. People don’t regret failing, they regret not trying. The more you try, the more you put yourself out there – the stronger you and your self-worth will become.

    12. Find meaning and create goals

    As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

    You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

      It’s time to break the cycle.

      Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others–contributing, volunteering and being kind–have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health and satisfaction.

      Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

      Start your journey to increase self-esteem

      Let’s be honest, this is not an easy journey. It can be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, I’d say it’s worth it.

      While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

      You are awesome. You are deserving of love, happiness and success. You are worthy. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time. You are not a mistake. And even if you feel inadequate, unlovable or unworthy, know that you are none of those things. You are enough! You may not be able to believe this just yet, but some part of you, deep down inside knows this to be true.

      Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Tracy Kennedy

      Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

      10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them) How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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      Last Updated on February 16, 2021

      Need a Breakthrough from the Limitations Holding you Back?

      Need a Breakthrough from the Limitations Holding you Back?

      Do you feel stuck in an area of your life, not knowing what to do next?

      There are things you want to accomplish, dreams you’d love to fulfil, yet your current circumstances seem to be preventing you from reaching your goals.

      Perhaps it’s your job, your career, major decisions, relationships, or just life getting in the way that’s preventing you from focusing on your true desires.You’re unhappy, maybe even burning out, and you want a change.You need some sort of breakthrough. Is this where you’re at in life right now?

      Is there something bigger, something more that you’d like to do, but feel like you can’t at this moment for whatever reason?If you’re feeling this way, then I want to first assure you that you’re not alone. Almost everyone has experienced this feeling at some point in their lives, because humans are made to grow and mature and to develop into ‘better’ versions of themselves. Take the evolution theory for example, it shows how humans evolve through time to adapt, survive, and thrive better on Earth.

      Same goes for each of our individual lives. We have different goals, dreams, and aspirations, but they all lead to the same outcome – becoming better than what we were before… whether it’s in terms of happiness, wealth, love, etc. So why is it that some of us have a harder time moving ahead? To answer that, we need to look at the limitations holding us back.

      What are Limitations?

      On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something; but, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

      They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over again. Limitations define your current circumstances, which also means that they define the quality of your life.

      But, here’s another insight that we’ve found from people who consistently make breakthroughs: your reality is derived from your perception.

      It’s not reality that’s important, but rather, how you see it. So being able to control how you look at things is the key to your breakthrough. 

      Some people are able to move forward a lot easier than others because they’re able to control how to look at things better than others. They’re able to shift their mindset to look at even the most negative of situations, and turn them into something positive.

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      And the good news, is that because all limitations start from your mind, it means that you can learn how to take control of the way you view your limitations. And, here is where I want to introduce to you the Breakthrough Framework.

      The Full Life Framework

      This Full Life Framework helps provide an overall paradigm shift for you to turn any limitation you may be having, into an opportunity that is achievable. 

      With this framework, you’ll be able to transform yourself to achieve your goals and break free from anything that is holding you back.

      You’ll learn how to use the Life Multipliers to help you through your transformation. These skills will help magnify your efforts and allow you to grasp your opportunities quicker and instill the changes permanently so that you won’t fall back into those limitations.

      Step 1: Find the Hidden Opportunity

      Step one is to find the Hidden Opportunity.When we’re faced with a challenge or setback, as humans it’s normal to focus on the negatives or the things that are missing. But, that’s life! There will always be some sort of constraint, so why not train your mind to think of opportunities instead of limitations?

      With every obstacle, there is always a hidden opportunity waiting to be uncovered. So instead of fighting them or giving up, know that there are always two sides to every coin. This means that you can find an opportunity within any obstacle that you’re facing.

      So, in order to find your hidden opportunity, try asking these guiding questions:

      1. What limitation is affecting your quality of life right now?
      E.g. “I’m limited by … [ the obstacle/constraint ]  Because …  [ why it’s a limitation ]”

      2. What does it stop you from doing?
      E.g. “It stops me from … [ the thing you want to do ]

      3. What’s the turning point? A turning point is a key obstacle that, if overcome, would open new opportunities that weren’t available before. So you just need to find that turning point within the limitation you’re facing, to create a new opportunity.
      E.g. If only I could … [ the achievement ] then I’d be able to … [ the new possibility ]”

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      4. Create an Opportunity Statement.
      E.g. I have an opportunity to … [ the new possibility ] by … [ the achievement ]

      By writing an opportunity statement, it not only solidifies your intent, but it also provides a spark of motivation for you to finally come out of your limitation.

      It can be a real mental drain to be faced with an obstacle; and the longer you stay stuck in it, the more effort and energy is taken away from you. So going through this first step of finding your hidden opportunity helps to re-ignite the flame of positivity that will drive you to take focused actions in steps 2 to 4.

      Step 2: Plan Your Progression Stairway

      Now that you’ve found a hidden opportunity, the next step is to plan your Progression Stairway.

      This simply means that you should have a game plan of how you want to achieve that opportunity! And, it all starts with creating achievable goals.So the first secret to creating achievable goals, is to find your North Star.

      Your North Star is what will guide you towards your outcome, and make sure your goals are focused within the bounds of what you actually want. Your North Star is the greater goal that all other smaller goals align themselves to.

      The second secret is to set goals aimed at growth. This means that your success should be based on progress, and not just a single outcome.

      The third secret, is to take bite-sized steps. In order to remain consistent, it’s helpful to break your ultimate goal into smaller, achievable chunks and work your way up from there – hence the progression stairway.

      The clearer each bite sized step, the easier it is for you to keep making progress towards and eventually succeeding at accomplishing your goal.

      Once you have your game plan sorted with goals in place, it’s time to start acting on them. And, here is where your actual energy and attention comes in. This is also the part where many of us fail or give up halfway because our energy and attention is limited. So we need to make sure we’re focusing it on the right tasks.

      Step 3: Invest by Energy, Prioritize by Time

      The third step of the Breakthrough Framework, therefore, is to Invest by Energy, Prioritize by Time. Breakthroughs require focused energy and effort above the level you’re currently using, otherwise it wouldn’t be called a breakthrough. So you can’t afford to waste it on distractions or scattered efforts. This is why focus is your ultimate weapon as it maximizes your effectiveness.

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      And, since time is something we can never get back, we have to spend or invest in it carefully. We waste time when we allocate it on the wrong things. This may be due to poor planning or prioritizing. As a result, we don’t spend it effectively which is why focus is key.

      So in order to maximize our efforts, we need to invest in our Energy and Time. 

      Energy comes first because if you cannot focus, it doesn’t matter how well you manage your time. You’ll still end up wasting it because it’s not being productively spent.

      Get rid of distractions, and do things in short bursts of focus as our attention span is short. Offload your brain by using support tools such as apps, journals, recording devices etc., so that your brain doesn’t get overwhelmed with information. Keep repeating this routine to build up your focus muscle.

      Next comes time. Once you’ve learned to maximize your energy, it’s important to understand how you spend your time, set priorities and use the power of deadlines. Figure out which actions or tasks are more important, and prioritize those. Once you have your priorities listed, be sure to schedule them in weekly chunks so that they can be executed.

      Now that you have established your opportunity, steps and focused actions, the last step of your breakthrough is to ensure this new you is sustainable!

      Step 4: Make a Self-sustaining Engine

      Most breakthroughs are not one off; therefore, a self-sustaining growth trend is needed. Along the way of reaching your breakthrough, you’ll encounter new challenges and obstacles that require the same mindset and plan of attack.

      Breakthroughs require consistent input over time to guarantee stability; otherwise you might make a breakthrough but fall into the trap of sliding backwards again. And, just having willpower is not enough. You need a system to support and feed your momentum.

      This is why we need what is called a self-sustaining Engine. And two elements form this engine: Motivation and Habits.

      Motivation is formed from continuing growth and progress in your achievements. The more growth you experience, the more motivated you are to continue.

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      And habits are routines that help you to generate momentum automatically. You can create a growth loop by having habits that anchor your growth. And, always incorporate a feedback loop so that you’re aware of your progress, and that will make your growth concrete.

      Start by identifying keystone habits that can help anchor your growth, and be sure to work them in your daily schedule. Keep track of your daily or weekly progress in order to keep momentum going.

      In a month, you should already see changes taking place. In 2 months, 3 months or more, you will be able to see milestones reached and progress made towards your ultimate goal that you had set out from the start – your opportunity statement.

      Repeat and Grow

      The four steps of the Breakthrough Framework that I’ve outlined can be used whenever you face any obstacle or limitation, no matter what situation you’re in. And mastering the Life Multipliers will allow you to carry out each step of the Breakthrough Framework effectively, as they give you in depth understanding of what should be done to get your desired outcomes.

      Breakthrough’s are never one off. You may overcome a setback today, but face a new challenge 3 months later, and that’s normal because it’s how you know you’re progressing in life when you’re doing things that are harder than before to push you to greater heights.

      With the Full Life Framework and the Life Multipliers, you’ll be able to break free from your current limitations and start pursuing the goals that truly matter to you, without risking or sacrificing your current responsibilities.

      So don’t stay stagnant anymore, it’s time to see your breakthrough! Start your life-changing journey here!

      Featured photo credit: Jeremy Bishop via unsplash.com

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