How to build self-esteem

Part 1, Part 2

Before we look at how to build self esteem, let's look at what it actually is.

Why? Quite simply, you need to know what you're aiming for when you start working on improving your self-esteem.

This is a relationship site, so why am I focusing on self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence? Well, if you can love yourself and aren't worried about (and drained by) trying to please everyone just so that they won't reject you, you're far more likely to build healthy relationships.

You'll be much more likely to find a suitable partner. Rather than being dependent on him or her, the two of you are more likely to be interdependent. You'll be happy to allow each other the freedom to develop, have friends and hobbies - independent of the relationship.

So you can see - it's very important for you to know how to build self-esteem (your own, but that of your children too of course!).


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Feel/be number 1Having a high self-esteem is not the same as thinking of yourself as no. 1

What is self-esteem?

Here's what you need to know before you commit to improving your self-esteem...

Self-respect is made up of two components:

One part is your self-evaluation - how much you think you're worthy of that fabulous job, that wonderful partner, that great opportunity or more generally of happiness itself.

The second part consists of your emotional response when you think about yourself. You may for example have a sense of accomplishment and pride, or you may feel shame and embarrassment followed by self-loathing.

There are four aspects that potentially contribute to - or detract from - your self-esteem:

  1. Biological: your genes, illness, disability and your lifestyle
  2. Psychological: your childhood and adult experiences, any trauma or shaming (which can be traumatic enough in itself), your lifestyle, the impact of injury, trauma or disability, your self-evaluation
  3. Spiritual: shame or reverence, (limiting) beliefs, lifestyle
  4. Social aspects: your social connections and the feedback you receive from the people around you, your social competence, your lifestyle

These factors cannot be separated to figure out what exactly self-esteem is. It's the interplay between these four factors that dictates how much self-respect you have. So, there's no easy formula!

Most psychologists think that your self-esteem is fixed (trait), with periodic ups and downs.

However, the really good news is that whatever the state of your self-esteem now, if you're unhappy with how you feel about yourself you can change it - without a doubt!  

I personally believe you can make the changes that will allow you to feel loads better - and I base that confidence on having counselled hundreds of people who have been able to make permanent changes to their lives.

Advice about building your self-esteem and stopping that self-loathing will follow on the next page. But first, I just want to tell you about the power of hypnosis. The right hypnosis download can absolutely do wonders for you.  Have a look at my page Hypnosis Online FAQ.

You now know the answer to the question "What is self-esteem?". So, let's move on to the next step: the importance of self esteem.

What are the benefits of a high self-esteem?

A healthy self-esteem can have a really positive ripple effect. Being around a happy, energetic and positive person is uplifting. That's why I want to help you build yours!

Here's a list of some of the things you might notice about someone with high self-esteem. When you cast your eyes over this list, you'll notice that people with a higher self-esteem have more emotional 'spare capacity'. They can share their resources to the benefit of others (but do also read the note of caution though).

15 Signs of a healthy self-esteem

When you're building your self-esteem, you'll begin to notice any of the following:

  1. You're more likely to build healthy relationships, and to generously love another person, because you can love yourself
  2. You're unlikely to feel devastated by criticism and negative feedback
  3. You aim high, reach your goals and cope well with setbacks 
  4. You have little trouble defending yourself, but are also happy to reconsider your opinion if you're proven wrong 
  5. You're more likely to enjoy your own company
  6. You have more self-confidence 
  7. You won't be terrified by having to come out of your comfort zone and gain a greater sense of achievement by stretching yourself
  8. You're more likely to attract friends as people are naturally attracted to someone with a positive outlook
  9. You're less likely to suffer from depression as you 'manage' life's setbacks better 
  10. You're less likely to suffer from anxiety, but if you do - you'll have learned to manage it well
  11. You enjoy a healthy degree of control and volition
  12. You create and are offered plenty of opportunities for love, friendship and laughter
  13. You're all-round more resilient
  14. You don't expect or wait for someone else to 'make' you feel good about yourself
  15. You work hard and play hard, making the best of your circumstances wherever you are

These signs of positive self-esteem show just how important it is for the health and well-being of an individual, a family and a community!

On the other hand if you have low self-esteem - isn't all that worth aiming for You are SO worth it. Remember, you're as unique as the stars - there is absolutely no one like you.

(Mind you... psychopaths tend to have high self-esteem too, so it really isn't all good news!)

Are you phased by the list and the importance of self-esteem?

Please don't be - you can always talk it over with an online counsellor, who can help you on your way to success. Just click the link to find out how you can get to Talk to an Expert Online Counsellor, anonymous if you wish and without a need to commit.

A note of caution before you learn how to build self-esteem

An overly high sense of self-esteem causes people to become over-confident, leading to poor decision making and increased risk-taking. Narcissistic people have too much of it as well.  

If you evaluate yourself in too positive a light, you're less likely to have patience with - and empathy for - others. This is definitely not what we're aiming for.

The trouble with low self-esteem

If you're suffering from low self-esteem or an inferiority complex and you're searching for how to build self-esteem, you may recognise some of the following signs and symptoms.

13 Signs of low self-esteem

  1. You worry a great deal
  2. You are more cautious
  3. You would rather not move out of your comfort zone
  4. You avoid upsetting anyone
  5. You constantly look for other people's approval and do whatever it takes to avoid rejection
  6. You fear being ridiculed
  7. You fake illness to get attention and avoid challenging events/tasks
  8. You suffer from social anxiety and have a whole range of 'excuses' at the ready if you can't avoid being invited 
  9. You have a negative outlook - your glass is half-empty
  10. You're more likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety
  11. You're more likely to suffer from addictions
  12. You're likely to run a constant stream of negative self-talk
  13. You're likely to suffer from insecurity and get stuck in dysfunctional relationships with repeated troubled endings

This list of low self-esteem signs is enough to depress you on its own. So I'm sure it comes as no surprise that if you have a low opinion of yourself you're also at risk of depression.  

That is because you're not meeting your essential emotional needs in balance.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."


Eleanor Roosevelt

If you're still not sure your self-respect and confidence need a boost, you can take one of the self-tests - either the Coopersmith self-inventory or the Rosenburg self esteem scale (see links further down).

What causes low self-esteem?

I really wouldn't want you to focus too much on what might have gone wrong for you. You've probably been doing that too much anyway.

However, by identifying what might have been underlying your poor self-esteem and lack of confidence, you'll give yourself an opportunity to do something about it. I'll come back to that later.

There are a whole host of reasons why you may have developed low self-esteem...

10 Possible reasons why you may have a low opinion of yourself

  1. You were very anxious right from childhood, even if you grew up in a warm, loving family and had no trouble in school
  2. You had a paren who suffered with anxiety, and who was unable to give you the freedom to explore the world without constantly pointing out all of its dangers
  3. You were criticised, chastised and/or bullied a lot in school, at home, by friends or at work
  4. You grew up in a dysfunctional family - with conflict the order of the day. You could never be sure what would happen next, and you'd never know how people would behave towards you. One minute they might be loving and kind, and the next they'd be out of control, angry or even vicious and violent
  5. You're creative and you use the 'reality generator' in your brain to run constant disastrous scenarios - no wonder you have become anxious and lack self-confidence!
  6. You've made mistakes in your life and are living with a great deal of guilt
  7. You were shamed by your family or community on religious grounds
  8. You compare yourself unfavourably with someone else in particular - the 'other' woman or man after your partner's infidelity, a sibling, a colleague - or with other people in general
  9. You have a poor body image, you've fallen prey to self-loathing due to being 'different' in some way.
  10. Perhaps you have a weight problem (there are effective Natural Weight Loss Hypnosis Downloads for that.)

All of these (and many more besides) can offer an explanation as to why you don't have a good self-image right now.

I really want to reassure you that none of this has to mean that you'll suffer with low self-esteem for the rest of your life! You have every chance to turn your life around by increasing your self confidence and raising your self-esteem.

Fake it until you make it?

Here's the most wonderfully inspiring video of Amy Cuddy's presentation for TEDTALK, with the best tips on improving your self-esteem through body-language:

Now that you have some background understanding, do join me in Part 2 to learn how to build or improve your self-esteem, including 12 self-esteem boosters.

Part 1, Part 2

Other Helpful Links

Coopersmith self-inventory
Rosenburg self esteem scale

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Elly Prior

Hello! :-)
It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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