Steps to Improve Self-Esteem
By Ashima Gupta, Psychologist
Our sense of value comes from our self-esteem. It is the way we perceive and assess ourselves. When we accept ourselves and believe that we are deserving, valuable, or loveable, we have healthy self-esteem. Our abilities do not define our sense of self-worth; that is self-confidence. For instance, a person could be aware of their aptitude or skill set yet still feel unworthy and unimportant. Some methods for fostering a healthy sense of self-worth include the ones listed below to how to improve self-esteem:
Recognize and combat your inner critic
Be an observer of your thoughts and self-talk first. Determine the things you say and do about yourself. Do you judge others harshly or hold yourself to a high standard? Do you impose a lot of “shoulds” or “musts” on yourself? For example, “I should always be pleasant to everyone.” (I need to complete this assignment with a distinction.) Do you use negative terms to describe yourself? (I’m stupid, unattractive, or insufficient)? Do you frequently utilize adverbs of high force like “never” and “always”? (I make mistakes a lot). Being objective as you recognize your inner Critic and making a promise to yourself to alter the way you view yourself is crucial for improving your self-esteem.
Record your negative self-talk, and then practice addressing it. Use the headings below at the top of each of the six columns on a page:
- Event or situation,
- What I tell myself,
- how I feel,
- How helpful and realistic is this self-talk,
- What more realistic and helpful self-talk I could give myself
- How I feel when I hear more realistic and helpful self-talk
Think of yourself as your best friend
This includes the self-talk you have with yourself and the actions you take. For instance, you wouldn’t call a friend foolish, lock them up, or prevent them from doing activities that might make them feel better if they were depressed. You would pay attention to them, be there for them, and assist them in coming up with ideas for potential solace. You may also say something like, “It’s OK to feel sad, angry, or afraid,” and not make them feel guilty for having feelings.
Set realistic objectives
Determine what matters to you. What are your life objectives? Consider your long-term (write yourself a letter from the future outlining what you have accomplished), medium-term (what do I want to accomplish for myself over the upcoming semester/month or even upcoming week), and short-term (what do I want to accomplish for myself today) goals. Ask yourself: “What do I want to do TODAY that will lead me to feel good about myself and in charge of my life?”. A wonderful way to stay motivated and steer yourself toward your goals is to write them down.
Self-care is necessary
Every day, especially if you are going through a trying time, take care of and nourish yourself. Try the following: take a long, hot bath; listen to your favorite music; watch a funny movie; spend time with a friend; observe, feel, and smell a flower; try a new food; discover a different culture; stand barefoot on fresh grass; stand in the rain and laugh; sit in the sun with a cup of coffee; and hold a stone in your hand and feel the surface. Watch out for your Inner Critic when you do these things because it might tell you that you don’t deserve it. You do!
Make your own effective affirmations
Affirmations are effective remedies for inner criticism and negative self-talk. Create them in the present tense, in the first person, and as positively as you can. Numerous times during the day, repeat them to yourself or write them down. Instead of focusing on the negatives, consider the things, people, and discussions from the past, present, and future that serve as a reminder of your qualities, value as a person, and the things you enjoy.