What is self-esteem?

Definitions of self-esteem vary in their breadth and sophistication. But all agree that high self-esteem means that we appreciate ourselves and our personal worth. More specifically, it means:

In addition, we compare ourselves favorably with others. Low self-esteem can mean helplessness, powerlessness and even depression. When your self-esteem is low, there are many things you can do to improve your self-image and feel more confident about life. One of the best ways to build self- confidence is to give yourself a little pep talk. Taking action and using positive thinking, is something you can do at anytime to help yourself through a time when you feel low.

Take action

Having negative thoughts, even about a single project at work, can often impact your entire outlook on life. You may begin to believe that you're in a trap of bad luck or that things will never get better, but in reality, the only way for things to get better is to make positive changes and that takes both action and self-confidence. When faced with a difficult situation that leaves negative feelings, step away for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. Think about a resolution to the problem, come up with a smart action plan, then begin to work on your plan. Removing yourself from the situation will help minimize those negative feelings while allowing you to gain some perspective.

A note from Dr. Platt: Another way to take action, especially if you have had a poor self-image for a long period of time, is to work with a therapist to uncover some of the beliefs you have about yourself. Often, a negative view about ourselves develops as we are growing up and taking in the way others perceive us. Our parents are particularly powerful in this way. If your parents or caretakers were very critical or you were neglected, abandoned or abused, it can leave you feeling unworthy and unloveable. Changing these distorted views is very powerful and it is quite possible to learn to like yourself and see yourself in a positive way!

Focus on what you do well

Another way to give yourself a confidence boost is to remind yourself of your accomplishments.

Each person is so much more complex than what's visible on the outside. Allow yourself to delve deeper into your soul and treasure what makes you unique. Rediscover your personal strengths or hobbies that make you proud and happy. Do you love to cook? Have you traveled extensively? Do you play an instrument? Do you play competition sports? These are all accomplishments you should be proud of because you took the time to develop these different facets of your life.

Positive thinking helps

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, stop and give yourself a little pep talk. Reassure yourself that you're strong, that you can get through what's going on, and that success is within your grasp. Remembering that everyone goes through ups and downs in life will help you face the day more positively. Thoughts and feelings are what make us human. Everyone experiences negative emotions, but if these negative feelings seem to cling to you everyday, then finding ways to reduce that negative energy can be empowering. Positive thinking and positive self-talk can help you come out of the darkness and into the light.

9 Tips for Building Better Self-Esteem

  1. Find a role model and begin to act as if you are a confident person. You will feel more confident.
  2. Rather than focusing on your failures and mistakes, focus on your achievements. You can always decide to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
  3. Learn from failures and mistakes. Make a plan to do better next time rather than beat yourself up for not succeeding.
  4. List the traits your friends like about you.
  5. Reward yourself when you do something well.
  6. Don't compare yourself to others, we are all on our own path.
  7. Make sure your goals are reasonable, don't set yourself up for failure.
  8. Hold your head up, shoulders back and smile.
  9. When negative thinking creeps in, stop it and say something positive.
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