23 effective strategies for building your self-esteem

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This post is about how to feel worthy and good about yourself again. Our self-esteem is what drives us and it can either drive us to a place of happiness and fulfillment or misery and disappointment. The good news is that we can learn to control which way we go.

When we've been made to feel like we're not worthy or good enough, we have a hard time seeing ourselves in a positive light. Even if you once thought highly of yourself, it can seem almost impossible to see yourself that way again.

In the previous post we looked at the most common characteristics of low self-esteem. When you experience these characteristics, you can become trapped in a vicious cycle. For example, the more overly critical you are of yourself, the worse you're going to feel about yourself. This will most likely lead you to being more critical of yourself. It's a cycle that has to be broken.

I'm going to share with you some strategies that you can implement right away to start rebuilding your self-esteem and feeling good about yourself again. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves, and you're no different, no matter what anyone has told you.

Any of these strategies can be helpful on their own or you can use multiple ones to achieve a greater effect. They are in no particular order. Start with ones you think you could easily achieve. The key is to create small achievable goals for yourself.

1.  Stop yourself from saying negative things about yourself or thinking negative thoughts.

Don't be your own worst enemy. What you think, you become. If you're going around saying negative things about yourself, then you're only reinforcing your low self-esteem. And thinking these things is just as bad. The process of rebuilding your self-esteem starts with you. If you find yourself saying or thinking negative things, try to catch yourself. Become aware of it and shift your thoughts to something else. Tell yourself that you won't allow yourself to be negative.

2.  Think of one thing you like about yourself. 

It can be difficult to think of something you like about yourself when you have low self-esteem, but I challenge you to do it. Regardless of what you dislike about yourself, I'm confident that you can find at least one thing to like. It can be something about your physical appearance, your personality, or some skill you have. Really take the time to think about it because it's there. And then when you realize what it is, hold onto it and be proud of it.

3.  Practice good hygiene. 

This might seem silly or obvious but it's easy to do and can go a long way in helping you feel better about yourself. When you take care of the little things, you will be surprised at how much better you feel. Do you know that yukky feeling you get when you are sick and bed-ridden for a day or two? There's nothing better than taking a hot shower and putting on some clean clothes to make you feel so much better. Even when you're not sick, practicing good hygiene is still important for feeling good and shouldn't be neglected.

4.  Dress well.

Take the effort to wear clothes that are clean, fit you well, and look good on you. Don't go around wearing dirty, worn out, baggy clothes. Even if you're going to be home all day, don't stay in pajamas all day long. Putting on clothes in the morning that make you look good and can help you feel more confident is really going to help you set the tone for the day.

5.  Eat well.

What you put in your body is just as important as taking care of your physical appearance. When you focus on eating well, you're sending yourself the message that you care about your health. We all know that if we don't have our health we don't have anything. When you care about what you put in your body, you're going to feel empowered and in control. This will go a long way in boosting your self-esteem.

6.  Get enough sleep.

Another area that can get neglected when your self-esteem is low is your sleep. If you want to feel good about yourself, then you have to make sure you get enough of it. You can't take on the day if you're tired and worn out. Life becomes much more difficult to face when you haven't had enough sleep. Of course there's also a fine line between getting enough sleep and sleeping too much when you don't feel good about yourself. Find the amount that is right for you and form a habit of sticking to it.

7.  Exercise to feel good about your body.

Another great way to feel good about yourself again is to stay in shape. Exercise alone is great for boosting your mood. Plus you're more likely to like the way you look. This will also make you feel empowered and in control. Feeling good about your body will give you an added confidence boost. Along with training your muscles to get stronger you'll also be training your mind to think more highly of yourself.

8.  Master a new skill.

Is there something you've always wanted to learn to do? Mastering a new skill will make you feel smarter and like an expert at something. This will be very empowering. Have you always wanted to learn a new language, or how to cook, or maybe how to play a musical instrument? There's no reason you can't learn something new and be really good at it.

9.  Avoid people who put you down.

If someone is telling you that you can't do something or that you're not good enough, then it's time to stop listening to them. The best way to do this is to avoid them. You don't need someone like this in your life. When you're trying to rebuild your self-esteem, it's especially important for you to be around people who are going to support you. If you can't avoid them then don't let what they say get to you. Set out to prove them wrong!

10.  Do one thing each day that is outside of your comfort zone. 

This can seem scary at first but after you do something that makes you uncomfortable, you will feel awesome and less afraid for the next thing. There's an app called Failure Games that gives you some ideas for things to do. When it comes to this strategy, the worst part is thinking about doing the thing that makes you uncomfortable. My best advice is to just do it without thinking too much about it.

11.  Practice good posture.

It's so easy to just slouch all the time without even realizing it, but it won't help your self-esteem. Having good posture will make you feel better about yourself as you will be standing or sitting taller. This is one of those things that you have to get in the habit of doing. Try to become aware of any slouching and then immediately correct yourself. You have to get to the point where good posture becomes second nature.

12.  Use what you've already achieved to achieve more. 

Think about something you have done that you are proud of. Something that seemed hard at first but you accomplished anyway. It can be anything big or small. The point is for it to be something that you didn't think you'd be able to do. For me, it was going to Europe by myself. Now I use that experience to say, "Well if I could do that then I can do this." Think of something you can say that about.

13.  Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?"

I keep a print out of this above my desk because it's the most important question you can ask yourself when deciding to do something. Oftentimes our thoughts betray us. They make us think that something will be scarier or more terrible than it actually will be. When we ask ourselves this question, we force ourselves to think about the worst case scenario, which is typically not that bad.

14.  Say "No" to someone.

Low self-esteem can turn us into people pleasers. When you don't think very highly of yourself, you're more susceptible to people taking advantage of you. You feel like you don't have the ability to turn someone down. You also may not want to hurt someone's feelings so you just say yes to everything. Next time someone asks you for something that you don't want to do or don't have the time for, try saying no. You have that right. And it will make you feel better about yourself. Here's a great podcast episode about this.

15.  Do volunteer work.

Volunteering will be good for both you and the person or place you do it for. Helping others will make you feel good about yourself. You will feel a sense of responsibility and purpose. You'll also develop a sense of importance. You'll feel like you are capable of making a difference, which will help you to realize that you matter.

16.  Use gratitude to focus on the positives. 

When your self-esteem is low, you can spend so much time thinking about what is lacking in your life that you forget to see what you do have. Just like with finding something you like about yourself, it's also important to find something you like about your life. Try to think of something to be grateful for each day. It can be anything. Doing this forces you to not take the little things for granted and to realize that maybe your life isn't as bad as you might think.

17.  Stop comparing yourself to others. 

Just because someone's life is different and seems good doesn't mean it's better. As the saying goes, "Don't compare your inside to someone else's outside." All you can do is focus on your life and how you want to live it. Comparing yourself to someone else can make you feel like you'll never be as good as them or have what they have. But you don't need to be like them. Figuring out who you are is the way to feeling good about yourself.

18.  Do something each day just for you.

Take the time to focus on you and your happiness. Do one thing each day, no matter how small, that makes you feel good. Maybe you take the time to do some reading or watch your favorite TV show. Just something that you enjoy doing, so that you know you are worthy of doing what matters to you. Don't wait for others to put you first. Put yourself first sometimes.

19.  Practice accepting compliments.

This one is still hard for me. It's hard to imagine someone complimenting you when you don't feel worthy. It can also feel a little embarrassing. When you've spent so much time thinking about what you're lacking, it's almost impossible to think that someone would compliment you for something, and be sincere about it. It's normal to think that they are just "being nice." Next time someone compliments you, thank them and really mean it. If you start getting complimented enough, you will start believing them.

20.  Meditate.

Even if you think this might not be for you, you should give it a try. It's another thing you can do for you. Meditation allows you to become more aware of yourself. You can also use it to say certain mantras that focus on boosting self-esteem, such as "I am confident," "I am good enough," or "I can accomplish (fill in the blank)." You can also use your time meditating to visualize yourself being the person you want to be or doing the thing you want to do. Give it a try. Just 10 minutes a day could help. Here's a good how-to.

21.  Start your day with positive affirmations. 

How you start your day is really crucial for setting the tone for the day. Before I even get out of bed I like to say to myself that I am going to have a good day and that I will be calm and confident. Those are two things that are important to me right now. Say whatever is important to you. This could be the same as a mantra you use while meditating. You could even keep a journal next to your bed that you write these affirmations in, and then read them out loud when you wake up each day. The point is to start the day feeling good about yourself and building on that.

22.  Make decisions instead of being indecisive.

I've always had a hard time choosing a restaurant when asked to decide. I'll always say that I can't think of one or I don't care, but the best thing to do is to just pick one. Can you relate? You shouldn't worry that you'll choose a bad place and that everyone will have a terrible time. Relatively unimportant decisions like this are a great opportunity to practice being more decisive, a quality that's usually lacking in those with low self-esteem. Next time you're in a position like this, just make a quick decision. Don't overthink it. Indecision is worse than the wrong decision.

And, last but not least...

23.  Try therapy. 

If you are struggling to rebuild your self-esteem on your own then try seeking help from a therapist. A therapist will help you stay on track and help you see the positive qualities you already have. They can help talk you through any doubts or fears you are experiencing by helping you get to the root of them. The key is to find someone who you will be comfortable with.

Final Thoughts

So there you have them. My strategies for rebuilding self-esteem that you can start practicing right now. I hope that you will be able to use at least one of them and that it will make a difference for you.  The thing to remember is that rebuilding self-esteem takes time, but you can make improvements each day.

I like to think of rebuilding self-esteem like rebuilding a muscle after an injury. You have to make small but consistent progress. You can't become strong again overnight but you can get there. It'll even be painful at times, but you can't let that stop you. You have to keep pushing forward to get stronger. And always remember to take the time every now and then to see how far you've come.

While most of these strategies are about things you can do, keep in mind that some are about things you shouldn't do. Things like being negative, being around people who don't support you, and comparing yourself to others. What you don't do can be just as important as what you actually do.

Some of these strategies are also for your subconscious mind. They are to help you create a habit that will continue to serve you well even when you aren't thinking about it. Practicing good posture would be an example of this. Once having good posture is second nature to you, you won't be thinking about it but others will still be treating you like someone who is sure of themselves, which will make you feel good about yourself.

Also, some of these strategies might come across as a little selfish at first, but that's just going to be the nature of things when you're focusing on you. You shouldn't make any apologies for this. If you need to avoid certain people, or say no to someone, or have some time to yourself, then so be it. You can't help anyone anyway until you help yourself first.

Lastly, I want you to remember this: You can't control what others will think of you but you can control what you think of yourself.

Have you tried any of these strategies before? How have they worked or not worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.  
If you know someone who's trying to build their self-esteem then share using the links below.
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photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

Comments

  1. Great Article! All the points are very simple yet powerful points! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great Post Melissa! Lots of good stuff here!

  3. Great stuff here! I really liked #14, Say “no.” Great advice =)

  4. Mike Goncalves says:

    Great post Melissa! Love all of these strategies you’ve mentioned here. All very applicable and doable. #7 for sure it a biggie as it not helps us with our physically well being, but most certainly our mental well being as well. I know when I don’t exercise, I just don’t feel the same as when I do. Good stuff here. Thanks again, cheers!

    • Hey Mike, thanks for the feedback. Exercising definitely helps you to feel good. I know there hasn’t been a time when I’ve exercised (even if I didn’t feel like it) that I wasn’t glad I did afterward.

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