Have you ever found yourself wondering what it must be like to be a confident person that walks into a room as if you own it? To feel good about what you see in the mirror? To love yourself, really love yourself, flaws and all? Yeah, me too.
Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I know the feeling. How do you improve your self-esteem when all your life the voice in the back of your head won’t shut up about all the things you’ve done wrong, your shortcomings and failures? When you dream of all you want to be, only to face a completely different person, a lesser person, staring back at you in the mirror?
It starts with you. It starts with wanting to change. Little by little, one step at a time.
12 Ways to Improve your Self-Esteem
- Be kind to yourself
This seems so basic, I know. You’re a little too used to hearing it but the truth is you probably don’t even understand it very well. What does this mean exactly, being kind to oneself?! Well, let me clarify it: treat yourself as you would your best friend, your father, your mother, anyone you love.
Imagine you’re having a really bad day, one of those when you feel like a complete loser. Take all the reasons why you’re feeling like that and imagine them coming out of the mouth of a loved one. What would you tell them? I hardly think you would agree with them.
If your best friend told you she felt fat and ugly, would you say “oh yeah, you’re a pig!”? You wouldn’t. You would look at all the things that make her beautiful. You would support her and giver her all the reasons why she’s wrong. Same thing if a loved one told you he felt like he was worthless. You would point out all the ways in which he is anything but!
Why is it so easy to be kind to others, show them support and give them praise but it’s so hard to do when it comes to ourselves? So, next time try and show yourself some of that kindness. Whatever you’re feeling, think to yourself “what would I tell my best friend if she was the one feeling this way”? Give yourself a symbolic hug.
- Give yourself a break.
This one may sound a lot like the first one and, in a way, it is related. Giving yourself a break has to do with acknowledging that you’re not perfect and that’s ok. In the same way that it’s ok not to be happy all the time (who is?!).
Everyone feels down from time to time and that’s ok. You don’t have to always be on top of everything. If you have a bad day it is perfectly understandable to feel terrible about it. You will have moments when you feel your self-esteem dipping, you’re only human. Repeat after me: it’s ok. You are allowed to take a break.
- Recognise what you’re good at
We all have something we excel at. It can be you’re a wonderful cook, a brilliant mother, a great listener. Maybe you have the voice of an angel or you can dance like no one else! Maybe you simply have an eye for fashion, you know how to spot a deal before anyone else, you have a talent for needle point.
Whatever it is, own it! Keeping that in mind will remind you of your worth. Which brings me to the next step…
- Learn to accept compliments
This is possibly one of the hardest things to do. I should know. I still have difficulty with it. A person with a low self-esteem will often struggle with believing that a compliment can be sincere, as it is not along the lines he/she are used to viewing themselves. However, it is important to try.
People don’t often go out of their ways to compliment others, regardless of what you may think. Whether you believe the compliment itself or not becomes secondary, just focus on accepting it. Accept that the person complimenting you is doing so because she feels like it, because she believes it. Don’t shy away from it, don’t shake your head and immediately disagree with what is being said. Smile politely and accept it. Say “thank you” and take it.
We all have a different perception of the world. We see others through different eyes. The eyes that are looking at you are clearly seeing something you don’t see about yourself. Trust that they mean it when they tell you something positive.
- Build positive relationships
In one sentence: surround yourself with people that make you feel better.
Sounds hard to do? Not so much. You already have these people in your life. They are the ones that make you smile, that compliment you, that appreciate you. Now, this doesn’t mean people have to constantly be raising you up. As long as they are not constantly bringing you down.
Positivity attracts positivity and, of course, negativity attracts negativity. Makes sense? Keep in your life the people that make you a better person, cut away those that make you feel miserable. It’s just not worth it.
- Be more assertive
Do you constantly say yes to others in fear that they may not like you if you turn them down? What is that doing to your own self-respect and self-worth? If you respect others you should expect that same respect back! You should say no when you want to. You should ask for what you need. It is entirely in your rights.
Being assertive is not the same as being rude, though. It simply means it is ok to put yourself first every now and then and have your voice and opinions heard. You don’t have to always dim your light in favor of someone else, you have the right to fight for what you want.
- Give yourself goals
Make them small, realistic and achievable. It can be whatever you want. It can be walking 5000 steps a day, going for a walk at least once a week, writing that report before the month is up, saving up enough money to buy that jacket you love two months from now.
No matter what the goal is, as long as it is something that gives you a purpose. It will increase your motivation, give you something to look forward to, something to work for and, ultimately, it will leave you feeling better about yourself.
- Reward yourself for a job well done
Those goals need to be celebrated when you reach them! You have set your eyes on a target, you have worked for it, and you have made it!
No matter how small it may seem, you deserve to treat yourself for completing a task, for following through. You deserve a pat on the back. Celebrate the small victories. They are still victories! And you are worth it.
- Stop comparing yourself to others
We do this a lot, don’t we? In today’s society we’re almost programmed to do it. We’re bombarded with picture perfect lives on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. We’re constantly targeted by advertising campaigns, trying to make us believe we won’t be good enough until we buy certain products or have a certain image. Yet, deep down, you know this is simply not true.
There is no such thing as the perfect life. So, stop comparing yourself to others! There will always be someone who’s better than you at something but, on the other hand, there will always be someone who isn’t as good. And, anyway, who cares?! You can only be you. There is no point in trying to be someone else.
Be you! Embrace your uniqueness and stop concerning yourself with whatever everyone else is doing. Let them be them, you be you.
- Set aside unrealistic expectations
We often tend to dream big. We build up these fantasy lives in our heads and we end up believing that we will never be happy with anything less. Yet, it’s the opposite that is the contrary.
You will always feel frustrated if you continue pursuing unrealistic ideas of what you should be and what you should have. Putting more on your plate than anyone could ever handle is only allowing you to set yourself up for failure. And it will do your self-esteem no favors. Sometimes good enough is absolutely fine. Set aside that idea of perfect. It doesn’t exist.
- Worry less about what other people think
You are not responsible for everyone else’s thoughts and emotions. You can’t change them. And you know no one can please everyone!
Not even a super model will be considered beautiful by every single person in the world. The most likable and funny person you know will still have someone who can’t stand them! And we all know people can be critical and opinionated, even when they know nothing of someone’s personal struggles and private life.
No matter how hard you try, you can not make everyone like you and/or agree with you. So, why worry about it? Live your life the way you feel best. Be true to yourself. What other people think is their own problem, not yours.
- Find time for joy
Admit it, this one sounds a bit ridiculous to you, doesn’t it? What does this have to do with self-esteem? As it turns out, everything!
We are often so busy with our responsibilities, our jobs, our daily lives, that we forget to find time to enjoy ourselves. How long has it been since you’ve done something for the sheer pleasure of it? Something that made you giggle? Something silly but utterly enjoyable?
Do you love dancing but don’t have the time to do it? Dance alone, in your bedroom, for 10 minutes, every day. Do you love gardening? Make sure every weekend you save an hour or so to spend tending to your garden.
This is important because it will give you a boost of energy. It will give you something good to hold on to and, ultimately, make you feel better about yourself for it.