18 Ways To Improve Your Self Esteem

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist

Published in Lifestyle on 6th March, 2019

Self esteem can really be a difficult thing. We all want to feel that we are worthy, wonderful human beings, but sometimes we can become trapped in a mindset that doesn't allow it. That said, there are some things we can do to help with building our self esteem in natural, healthy ways.

The following tips can assist you in being a little kinder to yourself. Some of these tips are really quite small, while others can take a little more effort. It's really going to be different for each person. As you read through them, consider which practices will be most helpful for you.

bself esteem

Be Honest With Yourself

Negative narratives can often leave us feeling like we're stuck. They can tell us that we can't improve, that we won't improve and worst of all that we don't deserve to improve. On the other hand, some can fall into the trap of grandiose beliefs about what they are capable of.

Healthy self esteem is fueled by honesty with yourself. Know where your limits are currently, but remember that little by little, you can push those limits. Don't forget that you don't have to continue to feed negative behaviors or beliefs just because you may have done so in the past.

Be Gentle

It's so easy to be hard on ourselves when we make a mistake, do something embarrassing or sometimes do nothing at all. Don't forget that we're all human. We all make mistakes, embarrass ourselves and generally slip up from time to time. It's not worth being cruel to yourself over.

You may find it helpful to try to place someone else in your shoes. Imagine someone you care about made the same mistake that you did. Would you be upset with them, or would you laugh it off? You deserve the same compassion that you would give anyone else in that situation.

Let Yourself Be Human

Humans have good days and bad one, positive and negative emotions. Some days you might be feeling like you can take on the world, while others you may not feel like you can even leave your bed. Don't be cruel to yourself when you're feeling down.

In addition to that, don't forget to give yourself breaks when you need them. You aren't a robot. You need to eat, sleep, and have free time in order to keep moving forward in a productive way. Finding the balance can be difficult, but ultimately it's going to help you to feel better and accomplish more.

Re-Write The Messages

Messages we pick up throughout our lives can either boost us, or make us feel much worse than we deserve. Some of these messages can include things like "I'm not good enough", "I'm a slob" or "I'm lazy". There can really be no limit to the nasty messages that can be placed on us.

These messages aren't yours. Most of the time, they are projected onto us by others. That also often means that they aren't true. When you're experiencing those nasty messages, take a moment to step back and remind yourself that you don't deserve them, especially from yourself.

Think About Your Happiness

We can sometimes get so wrapped up in doing things for others that we forget about our own happiness. While becoming a vessel for the happiness of others can seem like a noble cause, it's also very draining and can leave you feeling like you've forgotten yourself.

think about your happiness

So take some time to do things that make you happy. It might be as simple as a hot bath, or it could mean taking on a new project that is meaningful to you. Remembering your own happiness is key to feeling like a complete person, and it can do wonders for your self esteem.

Focus On Others

This might sound like it contradicts some other tips in this list, but it's not about focusing only on others, or focusing on others all the time. Instead, it's a way to distract yourself from your own worries and instead focus on helping others, which can actually help you as well as whoever you help to feel better.

Stepping outside of your rumination to reach out to those who need help is a fantastic way to ground yourself. It can help with adjusting your perspective and leave you feeling great about how you've improved someone else's life.

Keep Supportive People Around

The people who are around you frequently can greatly impact the way you view yourself as well as the outside world. This isn't something we always notice, because we may sometimes start to accept negative friends and family members as "the norm".

However, it really isn't. Try to make a focused effort to keep people around who treat you well, support you and want you to be happy. Knowing that you have a supportive foundation can help you to reach for what you want, whereas negative influences can result in you shutting yourself down before you've even had a chance to try.

Don't Compare

A quick way to bring yourself down is to compare yourself to others. Whether it's related to your looks, social status, relationship status or anything else, it's just not a good idea. Admittedly, it can be hard not to scroll through your social media pages and be left wondering what's wrong with you.

In truth, there is nothing wrong with you. We all have different life circumstances, which create different obstacles that we need to overcome. While it may seem easy for someone else to look good, or to marry the person of their dreams, you don't know what else they might really be struggling with. Furthermore, remember that you're seeing that person's life from the outside, so it might not be quite what it seems.

Practice Self Care

Self care can be much more difficult than it appears. For some, especially those suffering from depression or other illnesses, things like taking a shower or brushing your teeth can be painfully difficult. However, we can often find that we need it the most when it's the most difficult.

self care

On those difficult days, it's wise to take small steps. Tell yourself that all you need to do is shower, or engage in some other self care activity. Focus your energy only on that, and you're likely to find that by the time you've finished, you'll be ready to take on something else. Even if you don't, you'll know you managed to do that one task, and sometimes that's enough.

Enjoy The Environment

Changing up the scene is a great way to relieve stress and help yourself to feel boosted. This could mean going for a walk in nature or around town, going on a camping trip, to an aquarium or zoo, or just doing some other activity you enjoy.

Anything you like, that gets you out of your home or office, is going to be useful. Sometimes, you really just need to get out in order to pull yourself away from your worries. They can feel so huge until you can back away from them for a little while.

Remember What You Control

Sometimes, life can feel so out of control. It can feel like the world is falling down around you, when really you're just worried about what "might" happen. You may not even have any control over the situation that is taking up so much of your mental capacity.

Ask yourself if there's anything about the problem you do have control over. If you do, then do what you can to help with easing the potential problem. Otherwise, try to focus on what you do have control over. Shift that time spent worrying to cleaning, food prep, work or anything else that can help you feel more in control.

Remember What You Don't Control

When you don't have control over something, it can sometimes feel like you might be able to gain control by ruminating over the situation. However, that simply isn't true. Instead, you end up wasting your time thinking about a situation you just don't have control over.

While letting go of these worries can be difficult, it's absolutely worthwhile. Try to spend that time on something that takes your mind off the worry. That could be another productive task, or just doing something you enjoy. All the worry will do is wear you down.

Remember What You've Accomplished

Humans can sometimes have a tendency to remember their failures or the obstacles that lie ahead, but forget about how far they have come already. When you're feeling overwhelmed, take some time to remember where you were ten years ago, five years ago and even last year.

Even if your accomplishments have been small in that time, you have still made progress. Not to mention those small accomplishments can really add up over time. Make sure to appreciate how far you've come, and remind yourself that you can continue to make progress, even if it's difficult sometimes.

Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly can be such a hard habit to get into. A lot of the time, we might have a set idea about the kinds of exercises we are supposed to do, regardless of whether or not we enjoy them. However, forcing yourself to do exercise you aren't enjoying isn't going to work.

regular exercise

So instead of worrying about the calories it burns, think about what you enjoy doing. What feels good to do? Whether you're dancing, running, hiking or doing yoga, any regular exercise counts as exercise, and it's all going to be good for you in the long run.


It's all too easy to get caught up in the details. This is especially true if you're trying to reach a new goal. You may start to wonder how, when, and what if, and those thoughts can become all-consuming! Don't fill yourself with worries about events that may or may not occur, or whether you're doing something the completely correct way.

That's not to say that you shouldn't plan. Create your plan, and then break it down into smaller goals. Then, try to focus only on each goal as you get through it, and avoid becoming distracted. If you need to go back and fill in some details, you can also make that one of your daily goals.

Be Mindful Towards Others

While it might not seem like the way you treat others would factor into your personal self esteem, it absolutely does. When you take the time to treat others with kindness, you're likely to be left feeling better about who you are as a person overall.

Keep in mind that this doesn't just mean faking kindness. It means holding off on being judgmental or critical of others, and treating those around you with respect even when they may not have anything to offer you. It can take some mindfulness to do, but it's absolutely possible and worthwhile.

Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations can sometimes seem cheesy or even a little arrogant at times. That's why it's important to use them correctly. For example, don't say "I will be the best artist of all time". Instead, say something like "I'm improving my art every day, and I'm thankful to have the time to work on it."

Affirmations are about giving yourself a little credit and being thankful for what you have. They aren't about telling yourself you can reach incredible heights.

Enjoy Little Things

In our day-to-day lives, we're often focused on things like work, bills, taking care of kids or pets, and a whole lot more. We don't always have time to do larger things we enjoy because we're so wrapped up in these other tasks that keep things flowing smoothly..

However, little things can happen daily that are worth enjoying. Maybe it's the sight of freshly-fallen snow, or perhaps it's in making someone else laugh. Any little thing that makes you feel good counts, and sometimes it's those small things that help to get us through trying times.

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