Improving Self-Esteem

April 04, 2020

Improving Self-Esteem


Self-esteem is having respect or confidence in yourself and how you interpret your abilities, appearance, and/or attributes.  It reflects an overall sense of value or worth, and it affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  Often words such as self-worth, self-image, and self-respect are used interchangeably with self-esteem.  In short, a healthy self-esteem accepts and values you for exactly who you are, even your flaws.   


Self-esteem impacts every area of our lives, including our mental and emotional health and how we operate at work and in relationships.  Your level of self-esteem also varies throughout different stages of life.  If high school was a particularly difficult period of your life, your self-image may have been lower than it is now.  Perhaps getting older is causing lower self-esteem than how you once viewed yourself.  Our self-perception is often linked with how others have treated us in the past.  We might make past or current judgments about ourselves based on those experiences.      


Along the spectrum of self-esteem, some people have a high sense of self-worth.  Others find they have very low self-esteem, possibly facing symptoms of depression or anxiety.  Feeling inadequate, unlovable, and/or unworthy may accompany a lower self-image.  If you find yourself on the low end of the self-image spectrum, it is important to remember you are not alone.  This could be a symptom of depression, and your doctor or mental health professional can help.


Determining Self-Esteem Levels

There are some useful ways to determine where your self-esteem levels are.  Consider these possibilities:  

  • Strengths and weaknesses- Take inventory by writing down your positive and negative qualities.  If you negative qualities largely outnumber the positives ones, then this might be an indicator of low self-esteem. 
  • Success and failure- Do you downplay or explain away your successes?  Many times we set perfection as the goal, only to be regularly disappointed.  Are you able to receive compliments, or do you merely brush them aside?  Being able to celebrate our accomplishments is a sign of a healthy self-esteem. 
  • Standards- Are you comparing yourself to others?  This will not help improve our self-esteem.  Research shows people who spend too much time on social media are more likely to struggle with low self-esteem because they are constantly comparing themselves to others. 
  • Potential- Have you considered you may not know everything about yourself?  Take some time to discover what hidden strengths and passions you might have.  Exploring a new hobby, activity, or talent may significantly increase your self-esteem. 


Improving Self-Esteem


If you are looking to better your self-image, here are several practical steps to follow as you take inventory of your thoughts:

  1. Triggers- Identify what or who triggers negative thinking.  A difficult coworker?  Looking at your bank account?  Interactions with certain family members? You can’t avoid every trigger, but you can plan how you will respond to it.
  2. Self-talk- Next, listen to your thinking, or “self-talk.”  What do you tell yourself?  Is it based on fact or emotion?  Is it irrational or irrational?  Assuming the worst in every situation will take a toll on your self-esteem. 
  3. Accuracy- Are your thoughts true?  If not, challenge them.  Often times our thoughts are influenced more by perception than reality.
    1. Black-and-White Thinking- “If I don’t get this promotion, I might as well quit; jobs never work out for me.”
    2. Jumping to Conclusions- “He hasn’t contacted me because he doesn’t like me.”
    3. Downplaying the Positive- “She only asked me to go out because all her other friends were busy.”
    4. Overgeneralizing- “I never get things right. I’m always so stupid.”
  4.  Positivity- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Encourage yourself by focusing on the positive.  Avoid thinking of “should have” and “could have” scenarios.  When mistakes are made, you can learn to forgive yourself.  Give yourself credit for good things and even small wins.


Taking Care of Yourself


Learning to change how you interpret life takes energy. Taking time every day to care for yourself will help you feel healthy, and when you feel good you are more likely to be positive about yourself and your abilities. Listen to your body, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly.  Take time for activities and people you enjoy most.  A simple way to enjoy life and stay positive is to help someone else. 


Rearranging your thoughts and learning to take care of your body takes time and practice.  The more you challenge your negative thoughts and habits, the more confident you will feel in yourself and your actions.  When you are positive about yourself, you will have a positive impact on the world around you.     


Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call Amplified Life at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.




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