By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Common sense ways to increase your self-esteem.
Feeling badly about yourself? If you have low self-esteem this does not need to hold you back. There are many things you can do to crank up your belief that no matter where you have been or what your life has been like, you can move forward and accomplish good things. If “low self-esteem” has been getting in the way of having the life you want, here are seventeen ways to change your thinking and behavior and start creating a life you can be proud of.
1. Stop comparing.
Who you are is not some sort of contest. You do not need to be better than others to feel OK about yourself. One of the fastest routes to improved self-confidence is to accept yourself as you are and stop comparing yourself to others.
Most people have the bad habit of comparing up. You know that you do not look as good as someone on the red carpet. People with only a thousand connections on social media compare themselves to someone with 15,000 connections. More connections do not make you a better person. Life is not a popularity contest.
2. Hang out with confident people.
Hang out with insecure and non-affirming people and you become insecure. Want to be a winner? Hang with the winners. (No comparing now.) Associating with happy people and their happiness will rub off. You become, over time, like the people you hang with.
3. Build on your strengths.
Everyone has strengths. Find the things you are good at. Identify and name those strengths and then emphasizes those things that allow you to make use of your best qualities.
4. Develop your undeveloped strengths.
Some strengths are developed, more or less, and others you still need to discover. Look for strengths and then practice them. Try out new things. You do not need to be great at every new thing you try. Some will not be your cup of coffee. But among those things you try, you may discover the strength that can build you a better life.
5. Study successful people.
Study those people who have overcome adversity and achieved noteworthy things. Read books about those who had great accomplishments. Those people’s journey can inspire you to be the best you can be.
6. Look for “improvement opportunities.”
Reframe every undesired outcome. When you try and do not reach your goal this is a chance to learn more and practice some new skills. No matter where you start out life requires all of us to keep working on our skills and on ourselves.
7. Work with a coach, counselor or mentor.
No one is instinctively perfect. Most “naturals” got to be good by years of practice. Practice alone will not get you there. Not if you keep making the same mistakes over and over until they become automatic. You can’t see your own swing, but a coach can. An outside opinion, counselor or peer can help you find more “improvement opportunities.”
8. Do good stuff.
The more positive things you do the better a person you become. Think of this as moral or karmic exercises. Good people do not become good by doing one great perfect task after a life of awful actions. Little random acts of kindness and positivity nurture a positive person.
9. Make positive self-talk the rule.
Calling yourself names will not make you work harder or build self-esteem. What you tell yourself your mind will try to make come true. Use positive affirmations, what you tell yourself becomes who you are. Remember to tell yourself you can and then go out and see how much you can do today.
10. Get acquainted with your feelings. Call them by their real names.
Feelings are not evil creatures to be banished. You fear is telling you something, so is your irritation. Learn to recognize and listen to what information those feelings are giving you, but do not let their voices drown out your thinking. If you are afraid examine this carefully. Is this really a dangerous situation or are your childlike feelings just needing reassurance that you are in control?
11. Life is about the journey, not the contests you win.
No one wins everything every time. In life, there will be some second and third places and sometimes you may finish last. Those are not failures. Not being the best at something this time does not mean that you are flawed. Accept that life is about trying on new activities to see which fit you. You do not need to win every game to enjoy playing.
12. Enjoy being a beginner.
One way to cripple yourself self-esteem is to expect to be great at everything the first time. You learn a lot more by being the beginner and mentally observing yourself developing skills.
13. Be proud of your scars.
Victories come with a price. Sometimes that is pain, sometimes you have to fall down and get back up. Love yourself scars and all. You will have life experiences that are painful. You may not want to repeat some experiences but accept that they made you who you are.
14. Work hard at being you. Do not live to fulfill someone else’s dream.
Be sure that the yardstick you use to measure yourself is yours and not someone else’s. Better still toss those yardsticks and stop the measuring. Explore life and get acquainted with you. Live to be you not to fulfill someone else’s ambitions.
15. Stop hiding your mistakes.
Mistakes and imperfections do not diminish your value as a person. Don’t be afraid to look at your shortcomings and to admit them. Especially admit them to yourself. Looking at these less than perfect outcomes can help turn them into improvement opportunities.
16. Remember to love yourself.
You don’t take good care of things you don’t like and you shouldn’t be spending a lot of time with people who dislike you. You will spend the maximum part of your life with you. Make sure you grow to enjoy your company. Mostly that will happen when you stop criticizing you and begin to accept that however you are is perfectly fine.
17. Take good care of yourself, you deserve it.
This one got left for last. It could easily have been first on the list. Others will not treat you any better than you treat yourself. If you want to feel better about yourself start treating yourself better. You deserve to be treated well.
Self-worth is something you should have regardless of what you do. Remember you are a human being, not a human doing. You are more than the list of things you do.
There you have it, some of my suggestions for giving up self-judging and looking at yourself in a more positive way. Try these on and see if you don’t begin to feel just fine about yourself.
Check out the other counselorssoapbox.com posts on Self-esteem.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.