How to Improve Self-Esteem

I’d like to begin by comparing self-esteem to acne… they were both big struggles in middle school that I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about as an adult! Though my acne is not the same as it was back then, pimples still show up – just like my insecurities.

Self-esteem is how we see and value ourselves. It influences our confidence, our relationships, and our happiness. Having low self-esteem can lead us to be overly self-critical, lack self-trust, and feel anxious and/or depressed. We may also be more susceptible to mistreatment.

Here are a few considerations that can help to boost self-esteem:

1) Comparison is a Lie – We almost never see the whole story when we are comparing ourselves to others. We don’t see every minute of anyone’s life, except ours. Especially on social media, where we tend to only post a glamorized version of our lives, we can’t possibly know the full extent of what others are going through. Someone else may have something you don’t have, but you may not see what they are lacking in. For each person you feel envious of, you likely have something they also feel envious of. No one truly has it all.

2) Be Wary of Safety Behaviors – Safety behaviors are subtle actions used to avoid facing negative beliefs about ourselves. For example, avoiding trying new things to avoid feeling like a failure or pleasing others to avoid criticism or rejection. Safety behaviors can provide some momentary relief, though they negatively contribute to anxiety and low self-esteem in the long run. Take a moment to identify some of your safety behaviors and challenge yourself to act opposite to them. Be gentle with yourself through this process, as this is not an easy feat!

3) Adopt This Daily Habit – At the end of each day, think of one thing that you’re proud of yourself for from that day. Once you have something in mind, think of a positive character quality that can be associated with that accomplishment. For example, let’s say you spoke up more in your work meeting than you usually do. This shows bravery, enthusiasm, and confidence! The more you can get into the habit of acknowledging yourself for the things you’ve done well, the more you can consistently see yourself in a positive light.
As you work to improve your self-esteem, remember to keep your expectations realistic. You are human, after all!

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