First of all when we're talking about how to improve self-esteem, the list on the previous page (part 1 - see above) also points to your potential strengths!
Why and how? Here's what I so hope will give you a bit of a boost towards working on improving your self-esteem:
When you have healthy self-esteem...
you can probably walk into a room and very quickly sense when there's discord (because you're not so wrapped up in yourself)
you'll spot the person that isn't doing or feeling okay
you may have more empathy
you may be less fazed if things go wrong, because you've probably dealt with worse
It all depends on how you interpret events and experiences, and you can learn to do this differently and more positively.
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A note of caution...
Just before we carry on, I really want you to be sure that you're not overcompensating for your low self-regard by boosting it with any the following:
Cutting yourself off from the pain of others, or...
Over-identifying with the pain of others and making it your drama
Becoming controlling: if you've grown up in an unpredictable family, you may just decide - probably unconsciously - that you're never going to let that happen again and that you're always going to be in control
Hiding your lack of confidence by acting over-confident all of the time. It might indeed occasionally be a good strategy, but if you do it too often it becomes self-defeating
Making others feel small, so that you can feel better about yourself
The link between gratitude and self-esteem
Dr Christine Carter explains in this short video how gratitude improves self-esteem and makes for happier relationships...
12 self-esteem boosters
Here's my list of tips about how to build your self-esteem and overcome your insecurities:
Challenge your (negative) thinking! Listen to your self-talk and ask yourself: would you say that to your best friend? How would he/she feel after that barrage of negativity for just 15 minutes? You're your own best friend - present 24/7 - so don't bully yourself! Self-hypnosis is really effective in dealing with this problem.
Accept your flaws - they make you unique. When you're out and about, spot other people's flaws in the way they look, speak and behave. You'll soon realise that between all of us, we exhibit a huge range of imperfections! Those 'perfect' people on TV aren't real. Welcome to an imperfect world :-) See The Power of Self-Compassion further down
Realise that there are always going to be people who are better educated, have more money, are better at maths, are better looking, have bigger houses etc. One of the worst things you can do is to compare yourself with others. Nothing is more undermining of your self-esteem than thinking of someone who seems, in one respect or another, somehow superior to you. It only feeds into your inferiority complex.
I also say this to my clients (with children) who find it difficult to be kind to themselves: "Do you really want to undermine the mother/father of your children?" One of the best ways to improve your self-esteem is to use self-hypnosis - it's superbly user-friendly and cost-effective. Visit my page on hypnosis downloads to chose the right self-esteem booster for you.
The more emotional we are as human beings, the more we think in black and white terms. So, when you're feeling down or depressed you're much more likely to over-analyse stuff, run disastrous scenarios in your mind, become over-emotional, filter out important detail that contradicts what you believe and generally distort reality.
Your thoughts and feelings are not the truth - they are your personal interpretation of a situation and a response for which you are responsible. Only you can change this.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Whatever you're afraid of, decide you're going to tackle it step-by-step. Overcoming your fears will hugely improve the way you see yourself and, as a result, increase your self-confidence. It doesn't matter how small each step is - as long as you make frequent, regular progress.
Become good at something you really care about - it only takes action and time! You may not even have to leave the house for it. The more competent you are in a certain area the more confident you'll feel, and the more enthusiasm you'll exude when talking to others. Start with like-minded people - that'll help you to polish your social skills.
Think carefully about who you spend your time with. It may feel comfortable and familiar to be around other people with low self-esteem. However, they may be the very people who will undermine your progress when you've set yourself the goal of improving your self-esteem. I really wouldn't want you to ditch loyal friends - I just want you to be aware of the kind of company you need most to reach your goal. Be prepared to make some new friends.
Every night, before you go to sleep, remind yourself of three things you're grateful for. Sounds silly? Well, research shows what a positive impact gratefulness has on well-being*. Reminding yourself of what has gone well that day will help you to go to sleep on a positive note.
Swap watching TV for spending time on a hobby, studying, joining a group, doing some voluntary work, helping a friend or helping someone in need in your community. Any one of these is likely to help you to improve your self-esteem - because of their potential meaning to you and because you're taking action.
Accept 'failure' as a motivator
Here are some further tips...
Oprah Winfrey was demoted, because she was 'not set for television'.
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for having no imagination and no good ideas.
Consider also what impact your partner is having on you. Is he/she particularly critical of you? Is he/she abusive?
Do have a look at my Relationship Test to see whether it might help you to decide if the two of you are actually compatible.
*Emmons, R. Why Gratitude is Good. Greater Good, 16 November 2010, via Greater Good.
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