Anxious man biting on finger nail in therapy session

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in yourself—a sense of self-worth and a belief in your abilities and convictions.

It’s something many of us don’t have enough of.

Generally speaking, self-esteem problems emerge at a relatively young age, and can persist for a number of reasons:

  • Past trauma or abuse
  • Bullying
  • Poor body image
  • Divorced or constantly fighting parents
  • Distant authority figures
  • Unrealistic goals
  • Mistakes in the past
  • Negative self-talk

You’ve likely seen some of the negative effects of poor self-esteem in your life. It can reflect badly on your career and relationships. It can even lead to self-destructive behavior, such as drug abuse or crime.

If you’re like most people, you’d prefer to project confidence. You’d like to feel a little better about yourself, but aren’t quite sure how to get there.

We offer a few tips and tricks to help improve your self-esteem.

And keep in mind, what works to boost self-esteem is going to be different for everyone. So experiment with different (healthy) methods to see what works for you.

Diverse group of volunteers taking a selfie

1. Volunteer

Sometimes low self-esteem can come from a feeling that you’re not doing enough. You’re overwhelmed by daily responsibilities, and it feels like you aren’t doing all you can or should be doing.

Volunteering can be a great way to combat this, because doing something for others makes us feel good. When you help the community—or even just a single person—there’s an inner sense that you’ve done something important, which can help you feel better about yourself.

2. Be True to Yourself

Like most people, you’ve probably caved under pressure at some point. You might not have spoken out against something you thought you should have. Or maybe you went along with what others wanted, even though you really wanted to do something else. You probably felt a sinking, sick sensation in your stomach or chest.

Generally speaking, when we ignore both our wants and our morals in order to bend to others, we feel worse about ourselves. We feel like we devalued who we are and didn’t stick up for ourselves.

The best way to combat this?

Speak up. If you want to do something, say it. If you believe there’s an issue, tell someone. It can be rather intimidating at first, but there’s a sense of peace and confidence knowing you were true to yourself.

Frustrated man with head in hands surrounded by crumpled papers

3. Avoid Perfectionism

If you’re a perfectionist, you may feel anxiety over the little things. Your project might be serviceable—amazing, even—but you’re worried it will flop because of one tiny detail. Perfectionism takes up a lot of time and energy, and it causes a lot of angst. Not only can it leave you feeling burned out, but it can cause you to miss deadlines or fail to complete a project, which hits your self-esteem even harder.

Don’t stress the little things. If a task is complete, let it go, and move on to the next project. It might not be perfect, but it’s ready. And with each complete task, you’ll learn more.

4. Do Things for Yourself

Smiling woman receiving back massageFirst, do things because you want to. In addition, make an effort to do things that someone else might otherwise do for you.

While having validation is great, doing things because others want you to can lead to a never-ending cycle of trying to please people, which can leave you feeling like you’ve lost your passion or autonomy. Doing things because you want to do them—without stressing about what other people think—means that you won’t feel as bad if people disapprove. You didn’t do it for them, after all.

In the same way, having others do things for you when you have the time and ability to do them yourself can subconsciously make you feel worse. Doing things on your own—from completing tasks at work to cooking dinner or cleaning your house—proves you have the ability. It doesn’t have to be big; just tackle problems on your own when you can.

5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

It can be pretty disheartening when you look at the success of others and compare it to your own. Especially if it’s comparing your weight to someone else. It’s an unfortunately common trap to fall in.

The best way to avoid comparing yourself to others is to look at your own successes and remember that they have merit. What have you done in your life that you’re proud of? Remind yourself of that whenever you start to think about what others’ have accomplished.

Group of young people having a group hug by the sea shore

6. Find Supportive People

While self-worth is best determined internally, it helps to be surrounded by people who support you.

Low self-esteem can easily be caused by people who hurt you in the past—or continue to hurt you in the present. Having people in your life who offer validation can help you overcome this hurdle. They can act as an external counter to some of those negative thoughts you have, and can be a great springboard for working out your problems.

7. Hypnosis

Sometimes, poor self-esteem is so deeply imbedded that you need a lot of external help to feel better about yourself. If you feel like there’s no path forward, hypnosis can be a great first step.

You might be hesitant to try something like hypnotherapy or guided self-hypnosis. Psychology Today describes why hypnosis can be so effective in overcoming emotional hurdles—it allows you to connect with your unconscious mind. Ideas you formed early in life, or during a traumatic event, tend to remain unchanged. By working to alter those unconscious ideas, you can create a lasting positive effect.

Hypnosis offers a sort of direct line straight to your unconscious. It can build self-esteem by helping you understand and reprogram inner beliefs, so you can become more confident in your abilities.

Happy woman speaking on a cell phone

You Can Improve Your Self-Confidence

In today’s busy society—with the constant pressure to do well, and people telling you that you need to look or act a certain way to be worth anything—it’s easy to feel down on yourself. When combined with internalized childhood issues, low self-esteem can be especially difficult to overcome.

Thankfully, there are lots of steps you can take to boost your self-confidence. So why not give one of them a try?

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