Most of us struggle with poor self esteem in one way or another. Perhaps you’re too hard on yourself at work, or you struggle to strike out in new social situations. Healthy self esteem is vital to our development, our ability to take on challenges and our ability to make new relationships. Try these five simple steps to give your self esteem a much-needed boost.
1. Practice positive affirmations
Have you listened to your inner voice lately? What do you say to yourself? Are your words positive and full of encouragement, or are they harsh and loaded with criticism? Take some time to listen to the things you say to yourself. Those with low self esteem often report that they frequently tell themselves they are stupid when they make a mistake or that the challenge they are facing is going to be a disaster. Don’t be your own worst enemy! Confront negative self-talk and practice positive affirmations. It may feel uncomfortable at first but there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself praise. Stand tall, in front of a mirror, and recite positive statements about yourself, such as: “I am a great person”, “I can handle this challenge” or “I make a positive impact in my friends’ lives”. Over time you’ll begin to quiet the damaging side of your inner voice and embrace the positive affirmations that you are hearing.
2. Acknowledge the things you are good at
Every single person is good at something. We’re taught, from a young age, to dismiss our talents for the sake of humility but that can lead to us being overly critical of ourselves or forming a negative self image. Certain life situations, such as applying for a new job, require us to mention our strong points. Don’t wait until the night before the interview to start connecting with your strengths. Acknowledge your abilities, aloud or to yourself, and don’t be tempted to follow each statement with a disclaimer or rebuttal. Again, listen to your self talk and the way that you refer to yourself in front of others. There is nothing wrong with saying, “Actually, I am good at that” or “This is one of my best features”.
3. Celebrate the small wins (as well as the big ones!)
Society and the media love to focus on extremes–self-made millionaires, Olympic athletes, miraculous medical cures. But for most of us, these things will never happen and we learn to see ourselves as lesser than others who experience these unusually explosive achievements. Take some time to be think about your own wins in a realistic fashion. What have you accomplished recently? What made you feel good? By giving yourself positive reinforcement for everything you do, you’re challenging the idea that you won’t be successful/valuable/worthy until you achieve a certain (possibly unattainable) target. That’s not to say we can’t aim for bigger, better things but if we only focus on the enormous goals, we’re going to miss everything along the way. Focus on what’s real for you right now, don’t put off celebrating for the sake of achievements that may never come to fruition.
4. Value yourself unconditionally
We’re all programmed to place conditions on our self worth. “I’m a valuable person because I…” We define success by fixed outcomes, like wealth, career progression or public acknowledgement. This is a disastrous move as it implies that we are nothing without certain accomplishments. Every person has value. Make a commitment to changing your attitude towards your self worth. Your worldly achievements are worth celebrating, but they do not define you. Recognise that you are valuable just as you are–simply for being you.
5. Accept compliments
How many times have you offered someone a compliment, only for them to say, “Oh no, you’re too kind” or “Oh that? It was nothing”? It’s the social norm to reject compliments, as accepting them can be considered cocky or self-obsessed. This is such a strange social construct; compliments given in ernest are meant to make us feel appreciated. What’s more, rejecting them feeds a message to our self conscious that we’re undeserving of compliments, or that praise doesn’t apply to us. I say, buck this strange trend and start graciously accepting compliments. You don’t need to say any more than, “Thank you,” if that’s all you feel comfortable with, but even the simplest acknowledgement will start to work on your self esteem.