Published on December 30, 2020

4 Steps to Building Self-Esteem Effectively

4 Steps to Building Self-Esteem Effectively

How you see yourself plays a pivotal role in the type of life you create. When you have positive self-esteem and feel good about yourself, you are more willing to try new things. More importantly, when you experience failure, you are less likely to blame yourself. You will see failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and perform better the next time. This makes building your self-esteem an important part of living your life to the fullest.

Conversely, those with low self-esteem tend to avoid change because they believe failure displays their shortcomings. Self-esteem is often considered a fundamental human need and something we all seek.

If you want to build your self-esteem quickly and efficiently, below are four steps you can follow.

1. Recognize Your Triggers

There are days when you feel like a million bucks, and there are days when you feel like five bucks. On the days you feel off your game, what events took place that made you feel that way?

Oftentimes, you will recognize some similarities in the days where your self-esteem is lacking. Did you fight with a loved one? Maybe you committed to doing something, but the circumstances changed and you couldn’t keep your promise.

Unexpected life changes can also negatively impact your self-esteem. Did you lose a job, move to a new area, lose a loved one, or are dealing with a crisis at work? Each of these events can cause you to doubt your abilities or worry about how the change will impact your life. While the frequency of the event differs, it is important to recognize what creates a “bad” day.


2. Shift the Momentum

Once you know the commonalities in days you suffer from low self-esteem, you need to come up with a plan to overcome it. One of the most common mistakes people make is that they live their life reacting.

When they have a good day, it can get no better. On the not so good days, nothing seems to go right. To build self-esteem that endures every situation, you need to build consistency in your process. How you perceive yourself in times of turmoil is key. When things are going well, you see yourself as successful and fulfilling your purpose. In times of trouble, you see yourself as a failure and wonder if things will ever get better.

Instead of focusing on what is going wrong in your life in times of misfortune, look for the things that are going right. It’s easier said than done, I know. But you must adjust your self-talk on the “bad” days. The good news is this process happens naturally over time. However, you want to stop reacting and start taking control of your life.[1]

Consider when you lose a loved one. It hurts especially at the beginning because your focus is on everything you lost. You lost your friend, partner, and confidant. You lost the opportunity to tell someone how much you appreciate or love them. However, after some time has passed, you find yourself appreciating the good times you had together. You smile at the thought of their laugh and you slowly realize you are going to be alright.

So, what’s changed? The key change is your self-talk. You are no longer thinking about what you have lost but about what you gained—all the wonderful experiences that can never be taken away. For you to build self-esteem in times of misfortune, you need productive self-talk.[2]

When you are speaking to yourself negatively, you are magnifying all that is wrong in your life. It is unreasonable to expect yourself to constantly have positive self-talk, but you should aim to bounce back as quickly as possible.


Don’t continue the negative self-talk until things are better around you. Look to take control and increase your positive self-talk on your own.

3. What You Say Matters

As mentioned in the previous step, how you talk to yourself matters. When things are not going well, it becomes difficult to remember things for which to be grateful. Your brain goes into flight or fight mode, and this causes you to focus on the problem in an over-simplistic manner.

As your ability to think rationally decreases, you may find it challenging to change your self-talk and reflect reasonably. A quick way to build self-esteem efficiently and effectively is to create a positive mindset journal. If you are not a big fan of the journal, then you can instead fill a shoebox or a scrapbook with pictures of things that make you smile.

The goal is for you to quickly reset your mindset when momentum is pulling your self-esteem in a negative direction. In your journal, write down any and everything you have done successfully. Make a note of any goal you have set for yourself and accomplished.

If your preference is images, include pictures of your loved ones and things you want to accomplish in your life. For images of things you want to accomplish in your life, think vision board.

Do you want to be debt-free, take trips with your family, purchase a home, or learn a new language? Whatever the goal, look for an image that encapsulates your goal. Then, whenever your self-esteem is suffering, take a look in your positive mindset journal and remember all that is right in your life. This will help you leave flight or fight mode and reestablish the proper perspective and mindset.


4. Create Positive Relationships

Another efficient way to build self-esteem is to establish quality friendships. There is a reciprocal link between self-esteem and the social relationships in your life.[3] Think of it as the positive impact a parent can have on their children’s self-esteem.

Parents who have a positive relationship with their children influence them into adulthood. Your relationship with your friends can have a similar impact. Friends that encourage and support you will help build your self-esteem.

By finding friends who have similar goals and aspirations, you can hold each other accountable—much in the way that friends who workout together are more likely to continue working out than someone working out by themselves. You are not always going to be in the mood to go to the gym, but you tend to go to the gym when someone is expecting you. As you accomplish your goals and keep your promises to yourself and others, your self-esteem will continue to rise.

You can also create positive relationships with the actions you want to take through a reward system. Think of it as training a child or a pet with positive reinforcement. If you are a teacher, can you increase your class engagement if you promise extra credit for answering your questions? Of course. The same holds if you give a dog a treat every time they obey your command.

By creating positive relationships with your desired results and actions, you train yourself to behave the right way. When I face a difficult situation, I reward myself with a Slurpee once completed. You may not be excited by a Slurpee, but you may enjoy some alone time with a new book or taking a half-day at work so you can go to the park. Whatever your motivation, you want to create a positive relationship with a difficult situation.

Final Thoughts

Low self-esteem can negatively impact almost every aspect of your life. For you to improve your personal and professional life, you need to build self-esteem in a manner that will hold you up during the tough times and flourish during prosperous times.


By following the four steps outlined in this article, you will be sure to feel good about yourself and your ability to accomplish your goals.

Remember, building your self-esteem is a lifelong commitment. You will have plenty of great days, with a few less-than-great days mixed in. The goal should be to reset yourself as quickly as possible whenever you feel down and unmotivated.

Do not expect yourself to always maintain high self-esteem. Instead, work to recognize your triggers and take the steps to shift your self-esteem in a positive direction.

More Tips on Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Ashley Light via


[1] Psychology Today: 8 Steps to Improving Your Self-Esteem
[2] Journal of the National Medical Center: The Foundation of Self-Esteem
[3] American Psychological Association: Positive Relationships Boost Self-Esteem, and Vice Versa

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

In order for you to change your life, you must first change the way you think. If you are new to self-improvement, this is something that you must understand. Looking back at the various figures who have made dramatic changes in their life, there was a point where they had to shift toward positive thinking.

This concept isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface. Much like any habit, there are particular ways to go about tapping into the power of positive thinking and to be thinking positively on a daily basis.

What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is precisely what it says. It’s a series of habits and thought patterns that make you see things in a more positive light. One common example is seeing the failures you experience as lessons and opportunities to grow.

Positive thinking encompasses a number of things and impacts our lives in big ways. Positive thinking can create changes such as:

  • The way you talk to people both online and in person.
  • The people you attract.
  • How you inspire and encourage other people both directly and indirectly.
  • Your productivity methods and overall working capabilities.
  • Your stress level and how you manage it.

From this description, you can say that thinking positive is much like a lifestyle. The more positive you are, the more good things will appear around you, even in situations where you experience setbacks or challenges.

Another way to look at positive thinking is the addition of good thinking habits replacing bad ones. For example, how many times have you said “I can’t do that task” or “I’ll never achieve this goal of mine”? By definition, thinking this way will guarantee that you’ll avoid that task and put less effort toward that goal. On the other hand, by thinking “I can do that task” or “Someday, I’ll achieve that goal,” you’ll be motivated to work towards those objectives.

How Does Positive Thinking Change Your Life?

For those who have been in the self-improvement world, you can tell from the points above how your life can be impacted. Things like improved productivity, being more approachable, and more can create ripple effects throughout your life.

Getting into more details, these things can translate to larger things in your life. Some changes that positive thinking will do to your life are things like:


  • Being able to achieve goals consistently when you set them.
  • A dramatic change in your attitude.
  • Using money in a more intelligent manner to the point you’ll be earning more.
  • Having more like-minded friends.
  • Being more generous and kind to others.
  • Living a longer life.[1]

Positive thinking from this viewpoint can sound like it’s too good to be true, though this is no simple task. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch, and suddenly you’ve learned how to think positive. That said, these are good incentives to be working towards, and there is research behind these things being true.

How to Tackle Negative Thoughts

Another key aspect to positive thinking is that positive thinking isn’t about eliminating all negativity from your life[2]. Our lives do have negative events; you’ll make mistakes, fail, and have setbacks. However, it’s important that you strike a balance between being aware of reality and accepting your surroundings and thinking optimistically.

There is no right or wrong method to pick from, but being able to limit negative self-talk in various areas of your life comes down to a few simple techniques. Here are some examples.

Follow a Precise Guide to Cultivating a Positive Mindset

The guide involves looking for feedback, paying attention to your thought patterns, and rearranging them to accept negative emotions. Other guides will bring you through the process by getting you to believe you can change your attitude all the way to avoiding toxic positivity.

Learn About Your Thinking Style

Are you a logical thinker or an emotional one? Do you focus on the short-term or the long-term? Do you naturally sway toward the positive or the negative? Identifying all of these things can help you get a handle on how your mind naturally works before you go about changing it.

One way to tap into your thinking style is to learn about how you are motivated. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style? One you know your motivation style, you’ll begin to understand yourself and how you think on a daily basis.

Create a Curiosity Around Negative Thoughts

Looking at negative thoughts as something interesting instead of as something damaging is a good step toward giving them less power. When a negative thought comes around, try writing it down and contemplating it for a few moments.

Why did that thought come about, and why are you looking at that particular thing in a negative way? How can you change that thought into something positive?


10 Simple Habits to Practice Positive Thinking

The methods mentioned above are ways to nullify the impact of negative thoughts. There will be times where you will still think negatively, but the impact will lessen. This is especially true when you incorporate various habits into your life to improve your positive thinking.

Here are some things to consider to help you cultivate a positive mindset.

1. Do One Act of Kindness Daily

Making someone smile has as much of an impact on them as it does for you. Doing good things feels good, which is why many of us feel compelled to make donations to non-profit organizations. The act of charity warms our hearts.

But you can make more of an impact by doing something nice for someone else. Smile and say hello to someone, give someone a compliment, or help them out in a small way if you see them having issues.

2. Laugh More

Along a similar vein, positive emotions cause us to shift our attitude, and laughter is another big one to consider. Laughter shouldn’t be forced though, so make a point of being around people who can make you genuinely laugh. This can be a comedian, a friend or family member, or anyone who can get you to chuckle.

3. Read More Positive Material

Our social media diet is one of the largest influencers of our mood. That, along with television or other video content. If you’re watching or reading content that makes you angry, negative, or hateful, that behavior is going to project onto everything else you do and get in the way of positive thinking.

To change that, you must change how you are consuming content and what you gravitate toward. Make a point of reading some positive news and developments. Another option is to read or watch videos that focus on things that you’re passionate about.

4. Set Goals

Another solid method is to set goals and work to achieve them. This can tackle a lot of negative thoughts as people often set goals and give up due to negative thoughts most of the time.


Setting goals and striving to achieve them on a regular basis allows you to build the framework to overcome those negative thought hurdles. You’ll eventually stop making excuses and focus on the task at hand.

5. Have a Strong Morning Ritual

In general, what you do first thing in the morning determines the energy you put toward the rest of your day. We all have our usual routine in the morning, and many times that routine doesn’t put people in a space that’s conducive to positive thinking.

My recommendation is to mix up your morning ritual to include some positive things. Examples are doing some exercises, showing yourself some self-love through gratitude and positive affirmations, or maybe doing something you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or writing a poem.

6. Ask the Proper Questions

Negativity is something that we have to accept, but how we change the impact of it can be through questions. The catch is that you need to be asking the right kind of questions first.

For example, if you’re a pessimist, the questions you’ll be asking yourself are negative. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why do bad things happen to me whenever I try something?” These are negative because you’re painting yourself as a victim, and it does nothing for your mindset but slow you down.

Instead, start asking questions like:

  • What’s one good thing about this situation?
  • What is it that I can learn from these events and circumstances?
  • What is one small thing I can do right now to start fixing this?

By asking these questions, you’ll start to give your brain some tasks to ponder over to solve this situation and gain something from these experiences.

7. Create a Positive Environment

Consuming positive content is one way of creating a positive environment, but there are other things that can influence it. In general, creating an environment where you can be positive is key to development. This means:


  • Do the things that bring joy and energy into your life.
  • Be around positive people who lift you up.
  • Continue to strengthen that environment by reinforcing standards for what’s acceptable for you and what isn’t.

8. Meditate

Meditation is another morning activity to consider and one to do overall if you want to practice positive thinking. Meditation provides a number of benefits when done on a regular basis.

Meditation provides you with an opportunity to look inside yourself and see what makes you tick. It helps you to look at thought patterns and to begin rearranging them. It’s a powerful method because it adds perspective to who you really are and what you truly think[3].

From there you can make drastic changes by simply meditating.

9. Write Down Your Thoughts and Tackle the Issues

Similar to meditating, consider jotting down the thoughts that come to mind whenever you feel stressed. During these periods, you’ll see that when you’re stressed, you’ll be writing down things that cause you to feel stressed. It could be something extreme, or it could be a series of small things you need to do that have piled up.

The idea is to write out those thoughts and the next day begin working on fixing those problems to make room for a more positive outlook.

10. Read Positive Thinking Books

The last method to boosting positive thinking is to be reading more books on the subject. Positive thinking is a subject that has been researched heavily, and there is a lot of information on it. You’ll find a lot of it overlapping or having similar elements, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few books and read what the author has to say on the subject.

While reading articles is great, a book has more room to add more details and perspectives that aren’t otherwise there when reading an article.

Final Thoughts

Positive thinking is not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time as it involves rewiring your very way of thinking and reinforcing habits. It’s not an easy path, but it can lead to many avenues opening up to you in various ways. The road to success and to great change is through a positive and developing mindset for better physical and mental health.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via


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