We all want to be confident and sure of ourselves, as this can positively impact the way we move through the world and how we feel while doing so. It feels good to have faith in ourselves and our abilities.
For a moment, envision a point in your life where you felt the most self-assured and empowered. It may involve stepping into a certain role or identity that is meaningful to you, a personal accomplishment being recognized, or a defining moment when you were able to overcome an obstacle. Regardless of how seemingly big or small, in that moment, your sense of self was overwhelmingly positive and it felt good.
Self-esteem describes the confidence we have in worth and abilities; it is essentially how we perceive ourselves. It is important to note that it can fluctuate. In some moments, we may feel that we are “king of the world” as once said by a young actor in a famous movie, while in others, our self-esteem may feel like a sinking ship.
Our brains are hardwired to be sensitive to any kind of rejection and this is why perceived failure or rejection hurts so much, often impacting our sense of self. Many circumstances in life can shake our self-esteem: a breakup, harsh feedback from our boss, a rejection letter from our dream college, problems with money, a bad grade, or comparing ourselves to others on social media. Low self-esteem can be strongly linked with prejudice, discrimination, stigma, and racism that pervade our society and culture. For so many of us, building self-esteem can be incredibly difficult and can pose a challenge after a particular event or can be a battle we have fought throughout our lives.
The following are a few feasible ways you can cultivate a stronger sense of self-esteem:
Use positive affirmations.
Many of us find it easier to say something kind about someone else than about ourselves, but self-affirmations can do wonders for self-esteem. On a sticky note, write down something positive that you appreciate about yourself, such as “I have gotten through 100% of my hard days and will continue to” or “My passion makes me good at my job.” Do this each day and stick the notes around your reflection in the mirror so you are quite literally surrounded by your self-affirming thoughts each time you look at yourself.
The way we talk to ourselves matters. The more we engage in positive self-affirmations that we genuinely believe, the more likely we will start believing in the kind words we say about ourselves. Just as with anything, it is important to stay consistent with this method in order to experience results.
Identify and develop your competencies.
A solid way to increase self-esteem is to recognize your competencies and develop them further. Pay attention to what you are good at, as self-esteem is boosted when we show real accomplishment and ability in realms of our lives that we care about. If you take pride in being a good cook, cook more dinners for loved ones or throw dinner parties! If you take pride in your creativity as an artist, create more art, visit galleries, and expand your skill set! If you’re a good runner, sign up for events and train for them!
Not only will you engage in an activity that matters to you and that you are good at, you’ll strengthen and develop your competencies simultaneously.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Building self-esteem is much easier with the encouragement from those who truly believe in us. It can be incredibly isolating to go about goals alone and as we are very social beings, the supportive presence of others can be incredibly helpful. The people who care about us will help us work towards building our self-esteem.
In talking with loved ones, you may realize that you’re not the only person who has struggled with self-esteem, as they may share their own personal experiences. This may help you feel more connected to them and humanity as a whole in knowing that you are not alone in your struggle.
Identify negative core beliefs and challenge them.
Sometimes when we are struggling with low self-esteem, we hold negative thoughts about ourselves that we believe to be true. Core beliefs are our most deeply held assumptions about ourselves, the world, and others; they are often shaped by our perceived rejections and failures. For some, negative core beliefs sound like “I am unlovable” or “I am inadequate.” The problem with negative core beliefs is that they are often inaccurate and can shape the way we behave, see the world, and the way we see ourselves.
To challenge these pesky beliefs, ask yourself “what experiences do I have that show that this belief is not completely true all the time?” Be as specific as possible. For example, someone might hold a core belief that they are unlovable but recall that they are loved by countless people in their lives as evidenced by them communicating their love and demonstrating their love through concrete actions.
Sometimes, working through low self-esteem is easier when we have the empathetic presence of another person. Our therapists will collaboratively develop a treatment plan with you that best fits your goals, helping you move towards these goals with the use of evidence-based treatments.
For more help with self-esteem and attentive support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow.
Hi, I’m Ashley Barnes, therapist for individuals and couples at Love Heal Grow Counseling.
I help individuals and couples who seek to improve and enhance their relationships, those who wish to heal from painful experiences and navigate big life changes, and those who aspire to improve their mental well being.
You can read more about me or schedule an appointment here: About Ashley