Tips for Building Self-Esteem

 In Mental Health

Plain and simple: our view of ourselves as a critical impact on how we move throughout the world. Those with an increased sense of self-esteem tend to be able to navigate life challenges with less turbulence and can bounce back quickly from difficult situations.

Building healthy self-esteem is a learning process and involves acknowledging your worth as a human being, as well as viewing yourself realistically and with compassion.

Get to Know Your Inner Dialogue

Notice what you tell yourself in difficult situations. There are most likely patterns that have developed in your thinking. Is there an inner critic inside you always telling you to be better? A voice from your past that has been internalized? Constant judgment?

Self-talk impacts how you interpret events. These harsh thoughts could be running in the background all the time affecting your emotional wellbeing, often without your knowledge. Building awareness of these internal voices, and replacing them with more positive self-talk is the first step towards releasing yourself from your own mental prison.

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Your thoughts are not facts. When negative thoughts arise, consider if you would tell them to a friend going through the same situation.  If not, they are most likely linked to negative core beliefs. These long-held beliefs can feel true even if they are just opinion. Practice self-compassion, and begin to question whether there are alternate ways of looking at a situation or what the evidence is to support your thoughts. There are different mental traps you might find yourself in such as all or nothing thinking or only focusing on the negatives. Challenging these cognitive distortions can assist in building helpful thinking patterns.

Retrain Your Brain

Developing positive affirmations and saying them regularly can help. There are some misconceptions that statement like this that feign confidence, like “I can do it all!”, or “nothing will get in my way” may actually feel hurtful if they serve to set an impossible standard.

Remember that healthy self-esteem promotes realistic thinking and fits for you. A good affirmation to start with is “I’m doing my best”, or “I have the power to change myself”. When creating affirmations make them personal and achievable. Try stopping yourself from thinking a negative thought and replacing it with an affirmation. This practice helps train your brain to adjust automatic thinking. Throughout this increase your compassion for yourself acknowledging that growth takes time.

Focus on Your Strengths

We all have unique skills and abilities, but often people will focus solely on what they are lacking. This can happen especially when you compare yourself to others. For example, “Haley is so much better at meeting new people than me”. Focusing on these thoughts tends to invalidate other strengths that you possess and also make it challenging to feel comfortable trying out new skills. Conversely, looking at what you feel confident in and growing in those areas can help increase your self-esteem. If you are feeling unsure, you could ask a loved one what they see as your strengths, as they may be able to offer a different perspective.

Build Your Self-Care

Taking time for yourself can be an act of love and an acknowledgment that you are worth good things! Be willing to pull yourself away from your schedule to do something just for fun or for relaxation. Some other things to consider to help your self-esteem could be starting a fitness routine, eating well, and getting proper sleep.

Finally, as you continue to cultivate your self-esteem, take into consideration that you are not your circumstances. Finding value in yourself supersedes your abilities, skills, job, and accomplishments.

“‘Unconditional human worth’ means that you are important and valuable as a person because your essential, core self is unique and precious; of infinite, eternal, unchanging value; and good. Unconditional human worth implies that you are as precious as any other person.”

Glenn R. Schiraldi, The Self-Esteem Workbook


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