Self-esteem is essential to our overall well-being and directly impacts the way we experience the world and the choices we make. Low self-esteem can be an incredibly painful inner experience and often causes isolation, withdrawal, and limited engagement. On the other hand, healthy self-esteem is directly related to stronger relationships with others, higher life satisfaction, and more goal-directed behavior. While low self-esteem may be rooted in our early experiences and circumstances, our thoughts also determine the way we interpret ourselves and the world around us. Read on to learn some valuable ways to start boosting self-esteem.
Acknowledge and Talk Back to Your Inner Critic
First, itâ€™s important to become aware of your inner critic and the way that it speaks to you. We all have one. Itâ€™s that little (or sometimes loud) voice that is destructive, cruel, and rejecting. It drags us down when weâ€™ve made mistakes or are confronted with things that we donâ€™t like about ourselves. In order to improve self-esteem we need to tell this voice to â€śSTOP!â€ť and talk back to it with a more compassionate, understanding voice. Trying to refocus these thoughts into something more productive can help transform your critical voice into one that is far more constructive.
Itâ€™s also important to determine the purpose of that inner critic. Sometimes we rely on it for motivation or protection from potential hurt. For example, we can get tricked into thinking that our self-critical thinking is motivating us to achieve more and try harder or that when our critical voice tells us that people wonâ€™t like us, its protecting us from potential rejection. The problem here is that these are assumptions that arenâ€™t grounded in reality and can be seriously damaging.
Watch Your Language!
Often, we use pejorative language that can destroy our self-esteem due to their negative connotations.Â Telling ourselves that we are â€śugly, fat, stupid, patheticâ€ť and so forth is harmful. These words are subjective and arbitrary. They are also so immeasurable that we tend to define ourselves using the connotations that words hold. Instead, try to use words and descriptions that are accurate and factual. That way, the things we donâ€™t like can be more readily challenged and, in some cases, worked on if itâ€™s in our best interest. For example, saying something like â€śIâ€™m stupidâ€ť can become more fact-based if changed to â€śI lack knowledge in a, b, and c, but I know a lot about x, y, zâ€ť.Â Now, a strength is acknowledged and, if it seems important, the perceived weakness can be turned into a goal to learn more about a, b, c.
Self-imposed â€śshouldsâ€ť and â€ścanâ€™tsâ€ť are limiting and set us up for failure. Words like always, never, and perfect are also extremes. Try and be more open, realistic, and flexible with your language.
Practice Self-Acceptance and Celebrate Your Strengths
Itâ€™s important to acknowledge both our strengths and weaknesses. We donâ€™t have to love every aspect of ourselves or our experiences, but we must learn to accept them. Make a list of your strengths and get into the habit of reminding yourself of them. This can be done with things like daily affirmations, reminder signs around the house, and actively remembering times when your strengths have been demonstrated.
Develop Compassion for Yourself
This means to understand, accept, and forgive yourself.Â Somehow, compassion for others comes more readily to most of us. We must learn to treat ourselves like we treat our closest loved ones in order to improve self-esteem. A first step toward compassion is to begin to understand ourselves and the nature of our problems. We have to develop some sense of why we are the way we are. Next, we must learn to accept ourselves and remove the judgment we impose on ourselves. Finally, forgive yourself for the mistakes youâ€™ve made. A good way to engage with a compassionate self is to try and speak to yourself the same way youâ€™d speak to your best friend if he or she was experiencing something similar.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Itâ€™s easy to get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others who appear to be more successful, accomplished, intelligent, and attractive than us. When we do this we disregard all of our own individual traits, successes, and positive qualities. We also usually do this under the illusion and false assumptions that others arenâ€™t dealing with their own personal struggles, making us feel worse. The only person we should be comparing ourselves to is the person we were yesterday as we strive to improve each day.
Get in the habit of doing things that are good and feel good for YOU. Participate in things that bring you joy and that make you laugh. Surround yourself with people who support you. Eat well. Exercise. Take good care of yourself â€“ mind, body, and soul.