As someone who struggled with low self-esteem, I'm now at a point where I can, and want, to talk about my experience and what helped me overcome the things I was struggling with at that time. While I overcame the challenge of building my self-esteem up, I still deal with the challenge of keeping my self-esteem at an all time high.
Negative and unwanted thoughts still creep into my mind, invading my thoughts from time to time, and I still have the occasional self doubt or two. There are still days where I don't feel the best about myself and times where I feel a little low.
I share that to say building self-esteem is a challenge in itself but once you've built the self-esteem there's still work to be done to keep it.
There are a number of things I do that help me stay confident, including practicing positive self talk, repeating positive affirmations, and engaging in self care practices.
Why is building self-esteem important?
Countless reasons. I could go on for days about the importance of this, the benefits and more but I'll start with this - your self-esteem/self-worth impacts almost every aspect of your life, your relationship with others, your career, and your physical and mental health. When your self-esteem is low, it can make you feel depressed, sad, and lonely.
Building self-esteem will increase your confidence. The more self-esteem you have, the more confidence and stability you have. When your views, opinions, and perceptions of yourself increase, the need for validation and attention from others decrease. Your level of self-esteem can also influence the choices and decisions you make.
Self-esteem influences your emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses under various situations. It's been shown that individuals with good self-esteem tend to make better decisions, and additionally are more assertive, relaxed and at peace with themselves.
Lastly, there are numerous articles available that detail the importance of building self-esteem, so if you don't believe me hop on Google and see for yourself. With that, you may also stumble across articles sharing tips on how to build self-esteem so actually I recommend a Google search. When it comes to building self-esteem, there's no sure-fire way to do so and different practices work for different people, so the more information you can gather on this subject to craft a practice that works well for you, I encourage.
Tips to Build Self-Esteem
I remember how I felt when my self-esteem wasn't the best. I remember the feeling of hate, for myself and my body. I remember avoiding mirrors because I used to hate looking at myself, never liking the reflection I saw. I remember wearing unflattering clothes to cover my unflattering body.
I remember not caring about fashion or style and not wanting to take pictures because no matter what I wore or how I felt or how much I prepared, I knew I would never like the picture because I never liked how I looked. I was unattractive and unimpressive and nothing I said or wore would change that. I remember walking with my head down and the rare occasion of a smile.
I remember when I was sick of feeling low and bad for myself and I remember when I initiated a change, and embarked on a journey of self-acceptance, self-love, and better self-esteem.
Tip - Appreciate your body.
This was one of the things that helped me most when working to gain more confidence and self-esteem. In the beginning it was hard for me to appreciate my physical appearance, the shape and size of my body, however the more I worked at it, the more it helped.
Your body can be your source of pride and joy, so working to appreciate your physical appearance can boost your self-satisfaction. Appreciate your body, whether it's the size and shape of your body, your overall physical structure, or unique features.
If changing your body's appearance will help boost your confidence and self-esteem, that's fine too. There's nothing wrong with working to change your body, especially if the result is better self-esteem.
Tip - Compliment yourself daily.
This is another thing that really helped improve my self-esteem. If it helps, try creating a list of all the things you love about yourself. It can be anything from your physical appearance or your work abilities to your artistic skills.
I am a pen and paper type of girl so I typically store my thoughts of myself in a journal but if you are not into paper and pen you can always create your list in the notes on your phone.
Tip - Watch the company you keep.
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, and let go of people that make you feel down or make you lose your confidence and identity as a an individual.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good support system.
Tip - Identify your emotional triggers
When you know your emotional triggers, you can choose not to expose yourself to people or situations that affect you negatively and harm your mental health.
Recognizing what and who sparks negative thinking can increase your level of positive thinking. You can’t control or change certain people or situations but you can change how you react to them. The next time you feel sad, anxious or mad, write down what caused that feeling. After a while, you should start to see a pattern of what your triggers are and determine what you want to do about them.
Tip - Try positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations can be powerful, and serve as an incredible pick me up during times we feel low. I am a huge fan and advocate for positive affirmations. I have created a list that is still growing of positive affirmations that resonate with me in terms of my self-esteem, my personal goals, and my career.
I pick a few affirmations from my list and repeat them to myself a couple of times and I recommend the same for you. I know not everyone likes to write or keep a journal or diary of sorts, and that’s fine, so instead try to invest a few minutes in front of the mirror doing positive affirmations on self love, self-worth, and confidence.
Here are a few affirmations to get you started (some of my faves in bold):
I can do anything I set my mind to.
I do not need everyone to like me.
I am not defined by my past or my past mistakes.
I am superior to negative thoughts and actions.
I am doing my best.
I am brave, I am bold.
Tip - Stop negative self talk. This works closely with positive affirmations. This is essential to you building self-esteem. Be aware of your self talk and the thoughts you have about yourself. When you find yourself engaging in negative self talk, try to replace the thought with a positive one.
Building self-esteem is not easy. It will take time and a lot of commitment and courage. Be patient and kind to yourself throughout this process.