“No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, how confident you are, how accomplished you feel. It reflects whether a person loves, accepts, and believes in who they are. For some of us, however, it can go up and down. One day you might feel really on top of everything, great about yourself, unafraid to try anything. And the next day, you’re just as likely to feel completely at the bottom, unsure of yourself, afraid to say or do anything.
Building high self-esteem is a process, not something you can develop overnight. And this isn’t necessarily easy. Yet, every single person has the capacity of high self-esteem. The question is, are you ready to make a commitment to increase your self-esteem?
If your answer is yes, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Stop comparing yourself with other people.
Human beings can amplify or reduce their value by contrasting themselves either positively or negatively with others. But if you play the comparison game, you’ll run into too many “opponents” you can’t defeat. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. So stop comparing!
2. Stop the critic inside of you.
Some people have a bad habit of putting themselves down often. They say negative things to themselves like, “I’m always late. Why am I such a flake?” or “There you go again, stupid!” So get in the new habit of catching yourself saying critical things about yourself and learn to silence your inner critic. And if this is unavoidable, at least tone down the level of your criticism.
3. Forgive and forget.
Do not waste your time and energy thinking of past hurts. Your time can be wisely spent for other productive things rather than forlorn thoughts. We make mistakes, even when we’re trying our best. Sometimes you just have to apologize, let it go and move on.
4. Associate with positive, supportive people.
The “real you” is a magnificent, unique being with enormous potential and capacity for experiencing love of yourself and extending love to others. So keep your interest in life at a high level by being in the company of enthusiastic people. This way, you will get infected by their positive attitude. You will view the world in its full shining glory and move around oozing with energy. In the same manner, it would be wise to stay away from negatively inclined thinkers. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered.
5. Get involved in work and activities you love.
It’s hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you hate. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. And even if you’re not in a position to make immediate changes in your career, you can still devote some of your leisure time to enjoyable hobbies or activities.
6. Be true to yourself.
Live your own life – not the life someone decided is best for you. You will never gain your own respect and you will never feel good about yourself if you aren’t leading the life you want to lead. So if you’re still making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren’t being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.
7. Talk affirmatively to others and yourself.
Words carry enough power that can either hurt other people or yourself. Similarly, words can generate enough power to give warmth and comfort. So be conscious of your choice of words. Choose affirmative words when speaking with someone.
8. Quit blaming yourself for mistakes in the past.
Many things in our lives are only minimally in our control, but those of us who develop low self-esteem take the full blame for the resulting negative outcomes. Instead, learn to honor your efforts and give proper credit for things that you have done well. Following a practical approach for managing your self-esteem will prevent it from becoming a problem and keep you off that rollercoaster.
9. Make a long list of your personal breakthroughs.
Think of times when you did something that you thought that never could do but managed to pull off successfully. These breakthroughs can generate an authentic source of never-ending pride in you. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.
10. Make a list of your positive qualities.
Not everyone has your unique abilities and talents. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it’s important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn’t working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.
11. Figure out the hidden strengths in your so-called weaknesses.
You can’t develop high self-esteem if you constantly repeat negative comments about your skills and abilities. Remember that there is always a positive in every negative if you look hard enough. For instance, you may think of yourself as stubborn, but the flipside is that you’re also persistent and dependable.
12. Rediscover and reaffirm your personal strengths.
Sometimes you have to take a new inventory on what you like about your looks, smile, body, sexiness, health, personality, and character strengths. Don’t sell yourself short. It isn’t wrong or egotistical to praise ourselves.
13. Ignore yourself.
Sometimes the real problem isn’t self-esteem at all but a tendency toward overthinking. When you get this feeling direct your focus to other things. Give it a rest already!
14. Examine your needs.
Some of us need more praise from others than other people do. Some people need to always be accomplishing something, or they feel let down. In other words, it could very well be that you’re ok, but you’re just in a slower activity period right now, so it feels like you feel bad, when you really don’t. Relax, and take it easy!
15. Accept all compliments with “Thank You.”
Don’t dismiss or ignore them. When you do this you give yourself the message that you do not deserve or are not worthy of praise, which by the way reflects low self-esteem. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You.
16. Start giving more.
You must give more of yourself to those around you. Because when you do things for someone else, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which in turn lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem. So next time you see a downcast or downtrodden individual, pick him up from the rut. Share with him the warmth of your helping hand and watch the glow in his eyes.
17. Be your own cheerleader.
The energy and enthusiasm of a cheerleader is necessary in order to make the radical emotional changes required to raise your self-esteem. Learn how to enjoy a few minutes of self-congratulations instead of jumping right into the next task as if nothing happened, or dismissing it as meaningless. It does mean something. Being your own cheerleader isn’t silly, it’s smart and contagious.
18. Start small and do a task you can accomplish easily.
There’s no faster way to build self-esteem than to add yet another accomplishment to your roster. It always feels good to get something crossed off our to-do list. And it doesn’t necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments.
19. Examine the pattern of highs and lows.
Perhaps you’re just in a “praise starvation” mode – it’s been too long since you got a compliment or got to do anything that someone noticed. Or perhaps you started the downward spiral when you said some bad things to someone. It’s always good to remember that self-esteem is a mental construct. So examine your patterns and you’ll know what to do.
20. Get some exercise.
Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost. If you’ve been focusing on one type of exercise, vary that routine and try a different type. If you don’t exercise, go for a walk. Even the change of scenery will do you good. It also forces your perspective to change a little, and you may see yourself in a better light. Also physical activity itself can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state.
21. Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem.
Whatever material we allow to dominate our mind will eventually take root and affect our own behavior. For example, if you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. On the other hand, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.
22. Take action!
The universe rewards action! When you take action – regardless of the ensuing result – you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you’ll be frustrated and unhappy – and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.