5 Ways I Improved My Self-Esteem
At some point, we all have, or will, struggle with our self-esteem. We may feel as if we aren’t enough for our loved ones. We question if we can do anything right. We may start to not like ourselves.
The longer we focus on negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves, those thoughts start to cement themselves in our brains. We believe that all of the bad qualities we feel about ourselves are true.
When they aren’t.
Starting in high school and throughout my early 20s, I would say that I had pretty low self-esteem. Even though my friends and loved ones would usually talk me up, I still felt inadequate.
If someone criticized me, it crippled me. I internalized everything that was ever said and focused on it. I believed that everything I heard was true.
It takes a lot of work to fix our self-esteem. You can’t expect other people to do the work for you. How you feel about yourself comes from within. No one can change your mind, no matter how hard they try. It is up to you to see your worth.
That isn’t to say that people can’t try and build you up because that is helpful. They can encourage you and support you, but it is up to you to listen and make the necessary changes. You just can’t expect them to hold you up and you do none of the work. If you go that route, you will never truly fix your self-esteem.
To get your self-esteem back on track, and keep it going in the right direction, these are the 5 things I did to help. They might sound simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to implement.
#1: Focused on my strengths
When you are dealing with low self-esteem, you may feel as if you can’t do anything right. Feeling like you can’t do anything right will cause you to not even try. Because if you already think you will fail, then why bother?
It took me a while to believe that I actually had strengths. Once I started to see myself in a more positive light, I started to slowly believe in myself more. I listened to what other people had to say, and it reinforced the new thoughts I was having about myself.
I forced myself to listen to a compliment someone gave me, such as, “You handled that difficult customer really well. I would have lost it!”
From that comment, I realized that I was pretty good at dealing with difficult people. I was able to diffuse situations peacefully and help calm people down. What a great skill to have!
You might feel as if you are talking yourself up too much, but you aren’t. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better. Do not judge yourself.
To help, you can start a journal where you write down 3 great things you did each day. This will make you reflect on the day, and get you to notice some of the great ideas you had or plans you executed throughout the day.
#2: Got rid of toxic people
This one can be difficult, especially if you always worry about hurting other people’s feelings.
This is me. I’m that person.
However, if there is someone in your life that is constantly talking down to you, or making negative comments, they need to go. I understand that it can be difficult, especially if it is someone you are close to.
Think about it. If that person loved you and wanted what’s best for you, wouldn’t they treat you better?
I had to cut ties with some people that were extremely toxic to me. Some of them I loved with every fiber of my being, but they weren’t good for me. The hardest part is that most of them weren’t bad people. They just weren’t good for my self-esteem, and in the spirit of self-preservation, I had to make a hard decision.
I’m not saying you have to cut people out completely. Sometimes just keeping certain people at arms length can help tremendously. Do what works for you.
#3: Eliminated negative self-talk
This is one that I honestly still struggle with to this day. I am much better at catching myself when I start doing it, but it still occasionally hits me pretty hard.
Self-talk is what you mentally say to yourself at any point throughout the day. I catch myself partaking in negative self-talk when I do something wrong and I’m feeling embarrassed. I automatically start bashing myself with a cruel inner dialogue.
This can be so damaging. You can’t escape your own head, so anything you say to yourself sticks with you no matter where you go. No matter how hard you try to forget, you can’t. Because that thought is trapped inside your brain.
What I have done to help myself is pay close attention to when I’m doing negative self-talk. I have gotten to know myself over the 29 years I’ve been on this planet, so I can also detect situations or conversations that will make me initiate negative self-talk. If I can catch it before it begins, I’m in much better shape.
So pay attention to how you feel in certain situations and do your best to curb that pesky negative self-talk. Don’t let it take over.
#4: Acknowledged my accomplishments
Just like focusing on my strengths, focusing on what I accomplished was another huge part of my self-esteem journey.
I had a habit of not bothering to feel proud of doing something positive that took a lot of work. I was so focused on what I thought I did wrong that I couldn’t appreciate what I did right.
So, I began to force myself to stop and consider the work it took to accomplish something. Once I realized that something I did took a lot of effort and time, I slowly started to realize that I should be proud of myself.
However, this wasn’t easy. When you are dealing with low self-esteem, you will find any way to feel bad about yourself. You are able to put a negative spin on literally anything.
To change this, you have to be committed to wanting to love yourself. You have to keep believing in yourself, even when you think you do everything wrong.
You have to keep aiming high and trying. Only then will you realize what you are capable of.
#5: Listened to my boyfriend
If you don’t have a significant other, you can turn to someone in your life that you love, respects you, and sees the best in you.
For me, my boyfriend and I were friends for a few years before we started dating. He got to know me and saw the good qualities I possessed. He didn’t know that I struggled with my self-esteem. Partly because I didn’t tell him, and also because I thought it was normal. I thought I had it all under control.
However, when you date someone, you can’t hide the most vulnerable parts of yourself. Even if you don’t see something, your significant other will because they know you.
So, my boyfriend saw me struggling with my self-esteem and he was supportive. He would build me up, even when I would bitch at him for no reason. He kept trying and trying.
It took me a long time to believe him. I thought he was lying to me just to be nice. That hurt him, but I didn’t say it to be mean. That is truly how I felt.
Eventually, I slowly started to believe what he said. The only reason my boyfriend building me up helped is because I decided to listen to him and do the work to try and see what he saw in me. It was a difficult obstacle to get past, but we did. And we did it together.
However, do not take advantage of someone’s kindness. They will eventually get tired of being attacked when they are trying to help. It can be tough but do your best to see them trying and show your appreciation.
Never doubt the power of someone who loves you and wants the best for you. It is a valuable gift that should be cherished.
I won’t lie to you; my self-esteem still sometimes takes a nosedive. I still have to mind my negative self-talk and do everything else I mentioned above. However, now that I know what works for me, I can kick low self-esteem in the face before it drags me down.
Don’t give up hope. You can believe in and love yourself too.