Many of us recognize the value of improving our feelings of self-worth. When our self-esteem is higher, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are more resilient as well. Brain scan studies demonstrate that when our self-esteem is higher, we are likely to experience common emotional wounds such as rejection and failure as less painful, and bounce back from them more quickly. When our self-esteem is higher, we are also less vulnerable to anxiety; we release less cortisol into our bloodstream when under stress, and it is less likely to linger in our system.
Our self-esteem can fluctuate hourly or even daily. This is part of the problem. To make matters worse, self-esteem includes our global feelings and how we feel in specific areas of our lives (e.g. as a father or a nurse, an athlete, etc.). A specific domain of self-esteem has a greater impact on global self-esteem than one that is less meaningful. A chef who makes people gag when they try a not-so-delicious meal you made will have lower self-esteem than someone who cooks.
High self-esteem can be a positive thing. However, it should only be used in moderation. High self-esteem, such as that of narcissists, can be quite fragile. These people may feel good about themselves most of the time, but they are also very susceptible to criticism and negative feedback and react in ways that hinder their psychological self-growth.
It is possible to boost self-esteem, provided you do it right. These are the top 9 ways to boost your self-esteem if it is low.
1. Make positive affirmations
Although affirmations like "I'm going to be great!" are very popular, they can make people with low self-worth feel worse. Why? Because if self-esteem is low such declarations are too contrary to existing beliefs. Positive affirmations work well for a subset of people, however. This is because they are more effective for those with high self-esteem. To make affirmations more convincing, modify them to improve your self-esteem. Change "I'm going be a great success!" to, "I'm willing to persevere until my goal!"
2. Recognize your strengths and help them develop
Demonstrating real achievement and ability in the areas of your life that are important to you builds self-esteem. You can host more dinner parties if you are a great cook. Register for races and run for them if you are a good runner. Find opportunities and jobs that enhance your core competencies.
3. Accept compliments
One of the most difficult aspects of improving self-esteem involves being more sensitive to compliments. This is even though it is when we need them most. You should set a goal to accept compliments, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. To avoid reflexive responses of dismissing compliments, prepare simple responses and teach yourself how to use them whenever you receive positive feedback. The impulse to reject compliments or deny them will eventually fade, which is a good sign of your self-esteem.
4. Self-compassion is possible by removing self-criticism
Self-criticism can cause a drop in self-esteem, which can lead to further damage. We need to replace self-criticism, which is almost always completely useless, even if it feels compelling, with self-compassion. Ask yourself what you would tell a friend in your position if your inner critic starts to voice. We tend to be more compassionate towards friends than to ourselves. This will help you build your self-esteem and avoid further damage by negative thoughts.
5. Affirm your real worth
The exercise has been proven to boost self-esteem when it's suffered a setback: Create a list listing the qualities you possess that are relevant in this situation. If you get rejected by your date list the qualities that make them a good partner (such as being loyal and emotionally available). If you don't get promoted, list the qualities that make it a valuable employee (e.g., you have a strong work ethic, or you are responsible). Next, choose one item from your list and write a short essay (one- to two paragraphs), about why it is important and likely to be valued by others in the future. You can do this exercise for one week, or whenever you feel like it will boost your self-esteem.
6. Stop comparing yourself with others
Social media is not the best place to show your true self. When you look at your Instagram feed, don't compare yourself with others. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, states that comparing yourself to others will only lead to excessive striving and disappointment. Don't let others' successes take away your success.
7. Accept your imperfections
Nobody is perfect. Everyone has things they wish they could change. You can reduce the negative effects of these flaws on your self-esteem by separating them into two groups: flaws you can work on and flaws you can't. You will find inner peace and be able to focus on your strengths, rather than your flaws, once you accept yourself as you are.
8. Set manageable goals
Blair recommends setting short- and mid-term goals. You will feel accomplished once you have achieved your goals. You may not be able to reach your lofty goals and this can negatively impact your self-esteem.
9. Accept Challenges
Low self-esteem can lead to people avoiding difficult and challenging situations.
A challenge can help you improve your self-esteem. You don't have to do it all yourself. However, you should be willing to accept help when needed.
Everybody experiences low self-esteem from time to time. Most people recover eventually. Every person is born with unlimited potential and equal human worth. There are no limitations to what you can accomplish if you have self-compassion and self-love. If you are feeling down, it can be helpful to take the time to learn about the available tools. These times can be recognized and helped you feel better.