How to improve your self-esteem – 14 Tips

Sad looking woman, sitting down, leaning head against wall.

“How would your life change if your self-esteem improved?”

Caroline Myss

Have you been beaten down by life? Do you feel so lowly and worthless that you don’t know how you can go on? Perhaps you don’t have the motivation to leave your home?

Well, if that is the case, there are some things you do to help get over your low self-esteem rut and regain self-confidence, get motivated and get going on you being the success you’ve always known you could be. Below are some tips I believe will help you with that.

1) Tomorrow is a new day

Remember that there is always a tomorrow. If you failed today and feel beat down by life remember there’s always a tomorrow to regroup and start over. Numerous famous and wealthy individuals have failed in life. These extraordinary individuals have later came back from setbacks to achieve great success.

The most notable who comes to mind is Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). I won’t go into his entire life story other than to say that his life was one failure after another. After his father passed away when he was 6 years old, he had to care for his siblings. He worked multiple jobs that he got fired from. He also got married at a young age and divorced shortly thereafter and he finally contemplated suicide in his 60s when he realized he was exceptionally good at cooking at which time started KFC – and the rest is history.

So, if you take away anything from Colonel Sanders’ story is that it is never too late to remake yourself and start over. As long as you’re still breathing, there’s always a tomorrow.

2) Making mistakes is part of life

American actor Robert Downey Jr. had a history of drug addiction, failed attempts at rehab and being arrested resulting in some jail time when he finally kicked the habit and went on to star in a number of hit movies. Hit movies such as Iron Man, Tropic Thunder and Sherlock Holmes. He is just one of numerous examples of people who have made terrible mistakes in their past that still succeeded in life. Remember one thing, no matter how seemingly successful the person, just know that the bright, shiny successful part of them that you see is only part of the story. Somewhere, out of your view are the failures, setbacks and pain they keep hidden and they would rather not talk about.

Don’t let your self-esteem be a prisoner of a bad mistake or several. If you’re not careful you will create a mental prison for yourself that you will have a hard time escaping from. You can check out my other blog post 8 Ways to not be a prisoner of your past if you want to know more.

Two key takeaways from dealing with making mistakes in life:

1) Acknowledge the mistake – Don’t be in denial about it and pretend like it’s not your fault, and to learn from it
2) Find the lesson to be learned – Somewhere in all the circumstances surrounding the mistake there is a lesson in their somewhere that you need to acknowledge and learn from, otherwise life will likely give you that lesson again

3) Saying “no” is okay

You must remember that other people don’t always have your best interests in mind, this even includes those that you think of as your friends, family members and possibly even your spouse. I am not saying they are plotting to kill you or anything like that, but human nature is such that people tend to think about their needs and what’s best for themselves ahead of yours. They will ask you to do things and put demands on you that are counter to your goals and what’s best for you. If you let others constantly make demands on you that aren’t good for what’s best for you, you will eventually feel crushed under the pressure put upon you. Your self-esteem will increasingly feel atomized because you will become less you, and more of them.

So, one simple way to combat this is to learn to say “no” and don’t feel guilty about it. Yes, you will piss some people off, and yes, you might lose a friend or two, but at the end of the day you are ultimately responsible for taking care of you and reaching your goals. Your self-esteem will get a boost by exercising the will power to resist the pressure others put on you and also having the time to now take care of yourself.

4) Not everyone has to like you

To this point I will recall something I read years ago, “I can’t tell you the guaranteed secret of success in life, but the guaranteed secret to failure is trying to please everyone.” No truer words have been spoken in my opinion. On your way to the top you are inevitably going to step on a few toes and piss some people off. It can’t be avoided.

Some people are not going to like you no matter what you do. Maybe they don’t like you because of your race. Maybe they don’t like you because you remind them of that a-hole boss from a past job or current job, or maybe you remind them of an ex that they had a sh*tty relationship with, or maybe they just don’t like the way your face looks – who knows. The point is, don’t let yourself get bogged down worrying yourself about seeking the approval of others. You’ll kill your self-esteem trying to be liked by everyone to only then find out it’s not going to happen.

Lastly, remember this one thing I’ve learned from my many years of following politics. When a candidate is running for office, such as president of the United States, they know that a certain percentage of the American electorate will vote for them no matter what, so they don’t campaign for them. And, they know another percentage of the electorate won’t vote for them no matter what they say or do – they completely write them off and move on. It would be a waste of campaign money and valuable time if they spend it trying to convince those that are not going to vote for them no matter what they say or do. They know that not everyone is going to like them. So, all elections come down to convincing the undecided. If political candidates are smart enough not to waste their time with people that don’t like them, then you would be wise to learn that lesson as well.

5) Beauty & strength come from within

If you ever spend some time on Instagram you will quickly learn that there are many people on there who are beauty obsessed, narcissist who flood their account with selfies and half naked pics to show off their body. No doubt that much of their self-esteem is wrapped up in their looks – looks that will one day fade with time. The one thing that will remain after the looks don’t is what you have on the inside; your personality, your knowledge, your wisdom, integrity and conviction. It is a good idea to spend your time working on those things rather than looking good for a selfie and you will be rewarded for it in time.

6) Reward yourself

Don’t let yourself get so caught up in giving and giving to others that you don’t give something to yourself. Don’t get me wrong, giving to others is noble and shows a selflessness that I wish more people in this world would aspire to, but if you already have low self-esteem, it helps if you given something to yourself every once in a while. During the holidays, when you’re done shopping for everyone else, buy a nice gift for yourself. If it will make you feel better, then why not?

Also, take time out of your schedule for YOU time or in other words, for self-care. I talk a little bit about self-care in an earlier blog post 22 New Year’s Resolution Ideas and My Thoughts so go check that out when you have time. But anyway, self-care is an important way to boost your self-esteem because it is food for the mind, body and spirit. Self-care, defined simply is time you spend on yourself, by yourself doing something that you enjoy and makes you feel better. Everyone’s idea of self-care is different but some examples would be a vigorous exercise, a long walk alone, getting a massage, binge watching your favorite TV show, reading a good book, or shopping. Whatever it is, spend some quality time doing it every month and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.

“Self-care is never a selfish act–it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”

Parker Palmer

7) Stop doubting yourself

The core of low self-esteem is doubting yourself. Doubting yourself often comes from making repeated mistakes and having others ridicule you for it. The pressure put upon you to do everything 100% correctly, 100% of the time or else you will be criticized, ridiculed, and perhaps yelled at for making the mistake causes deep seeded stress and anxiety. To escape the stress and anxiety you second guess your decisions and you always feel that you’re not good enough to make any. You will often not make a decision, even an important one for fear of messing up. People who suffer from self-doubt will constantly seek the opinion and approval from others for validation. It’s a terrible way to live.

Constantly doubting yourself will haunt you your whole life if you don’t get control of it. It will tank any hopes you have to achieve your dreams and goals. It will forever hold you prisoner if you don’t overcome it. Everyone doubts themselves a tiny bit, a least a few times in their life, but if your self-doubt has gotten so bad that you can’t make even the most basic decisions without getting some stress and anxiety, then you need to get past it. When you doubt yourself you are undervaluing you and your abilities. You are selling yourself short.

Anyhow, this blog post is about improving your self-esteem but you should understand that when you improve your self-esteem, you will largely overcome your self-doubt because the two are closely related.

8) Stay away from the negativity

It’s probably a safe bet that a large part of your low self-esteem comes from the negative people and influences in your life. You need to stay away from them as much as possible because they will harm your mental and emotional state that will cause your self-esteem to get worse. The negativity will induce more stress and anxiety into you and hamper your ability to achieve your success in life. Not being successful in life can lower your self-esteem just by itself.

First off, stay away from the negative so-called friends, family members, co-workers, etc. as much as possible. I know it might be hard at first, but it gets a little easier after a while. Remember what I said earlier about self-care time; not everyone has your best interests in mind. So you will need to learn to not answer the phone and avoid the social functions as much as possible. These negative personalities, or haters, love to build themselves up by tearing you down. These people will criticize or belittle you, make jokes at your expense or simply dismiss anything you tell them about anything positive in your life. Another type of negative personality is someone who won’t criticize or attack you, but they are negative about everything else in life. They are always complaining about how everything sucks, the sky is falling, etc. So understand that nothing these negative personalities are doing is good for your self-esteem so avoid them like the plague if you can.

Lastly, the other type of negativity that enters your environment comes in large part because of the in the media. When you turn on the TV or jump on social media you have no doubt have seen some of the craziness going on in the world such as murders, natural disasters, terrorist attacks and political news. Absorbing too much of this negativity in the media will induce stress and anxiety which is harmful for you mental well being. You must guard your thoughts and be careful with what you fill your mind with. I am not suggesting sticking your head in the sand and not keeping informed on what’s going on in the news indefinitely, but it might be a good idea to stay away from the news and social media for a few days to a week or so, just to help clear your head.

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

Michael J. Fox

9) Exercise your mind and body

A great step in improving your self-esteem is to improve yourself, both mentally and physically. You can improve your mind by improving your knowledge. And you can improve your knowledge by reading books, watching documentaries and taking courses and maybe. You can start by gaining knowledge and skills to help you at your occupation or reaching your goals in life such as starting a business or investing. When you know more, it is easier to see and act upon the opportunities that are out there. When you know more, it will be easier to achieve your dreams and goals. When you have greater knowledge, your self-esteem naturally improves. You will feel more self-confident and generally have a more positive outlook on life.

Taking care of your body through healthy diet and exercise will have a number of positive benefits for you. Research has shown that the right diet and exercise will reduce your stress and anxiety. When you spend time exercising and eating healthy, you will, sooner or later, start to see progress in your physical appearance and energy levels. When you look good and feel good your self-esteem will naturally improve as well.

10) Stop comparing yourself to others

There’s always going to be someone who has more money than you. There’s always going to be someone who has a better job than you. There’s always going to be someone who drives a better car than you or has a better looking spouse or just overall seems to have their life in better shape than yours. Get over it. We have to play with the cards life deals us and make the best out of it.

When you compare yourself to others, you will never improve your self-esteem and your self-confidence, because, like I said, there is always someone who apparently has it better than you have. Comparing yourself to others means you are not happy with what you have, with your life, you are not grateful for what you’ve got. Learning gratitude can really help you with overcoming the comparison game that has you trapped. Check out my blog post about the power of gratitude. Research has shown that people who are grateful generally have a more positive outlook and live happier lives.

Another thing to keep in mind about comparing yourself to others is although that other person seemingly has that one thing you want or the life you want, you really don’t know what they’ve been through to get there or what struggles they are going through you know nothing about. Even the most successful people often times have hidden demons and struggles they had to endure on their way to success or ones they are currently going through they keep out of sight from others and don’t talk about. So remember that.

11) Don’t beat yourself up

You are your worst enemy and worst critic. Other people criticizing and ridiculing you can be very tough, I know, but those other people will only be around you for only so long. But, you, that voice in your head, the one that speaks to you is with you 24/7. That’s the one you can’t escape so it is best to learn to silence it or control it. You must learn to not dwell on past failures and let them go. It might be helpful to talk about it with someone you trust to get if off your chest and then let it go. Unless you invent a time machine, you can’t fix what has happened in the past so why not let it go? Part of the problem that is making it hard to let go of a past failures that are causing you to beat yourself up is probably there is some deep seeded resentment and anger with yourself and maybe with others for what happened. You need to do some soul searching and take a long hard look at this resentment and anger, come to terms with it first, before you can stop punishing yourself. Certain types of meditation can help with this.

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Louise L. Hay

12) Upgrade your appearance

If you ever watched one of those makeover shows in which they have a celebrity stylist or some expert come in and make over someone’s homely looking mom or bum looking uncle you will know it has a profound effect on the person being made over. They will give them a nice haircut and styling, a facial, maybe a little makeup and new wardrobe and boom! They look like a completely different person in a lot of cases. Everyone who knows that person are most impressed with how they look.

But more importantly, improving your appearance, believe it or not, has a positive impact on your self-esteem. It’s like my grandma used to say, “when you look better, you feel better.” When you’re really well dressed, people tend to respect you a little better. It’s hard to ignore a well groomed man (or woman) in a nice suit or other outfit. When you look important, you will feel important and others will tend to feel the same about you. You will command more respect and attention from others which will definitely boost your self-confidence.

I am not saying you have to wear a three piece suit or really nice dress with your hair professionally done everywhere you go. It’s just that when you look like a homeless person who’s slept under a bridge all week, it’s harder for you to have a positive mental image and confidence in yourself when you look in the mirror. It’s harder for others to look at you as important and have a positive image of you when you are wearing dirty jeans, a dirty a t-shirt and hair uncombed.

The bottom line; get a haircut, take a shower and wear nice clothes. Much of your self-esteem is tied to how you feel about yourself and how you feel about yourself is in large part due to how you look. Don’t underestimate the importance of that.

13) Find inspirational material to pick your life up

I can imagine years and years ago when someone was suffering from low self-esteem there was nowhere to turn to except maybe talking to a sympathetic soul who would listen to your problem. Today that is not the case, because things are different now. Yes, there are times when it is good to talk with someone regarding your problems, but that person may not always be around so it is best to find a way to help yourself get motivated and stay positive.

There is a wealth of motivational and inspirational memes, blogs (like this one), books and videos that are very helpful for those whose need it. That endless supply of positive, motivational, inspirational memes and blog posts can be part of your inventory of tools to help you to overcome your low self-esteem, low self-confidence and become a better person. Such material is freely available on the internet. You can think of it as a source of power and strength for you. Don’t hesitate to utilize what’s out there.

14) Leave your comfort zone behind

This last piece of advice is probably the toughest because it involves getting out of your safe space, the world you constructed for yourself to make things easier for you. The world you created for yourself probably because of your low self-esteem issues. What I mean by this everything you’ve done to insulate your fragile ego from anything that might challenge it and also the creature comforts that make you lazier, more out of shape and complacent. Everyone is guilty of this to some degree or another. And it is OK to live in your comfort zone for awhile, but you can’t go on this way forever if you want to repair your self-esteem and grow.

You see, your comfort zone will kill you. If you don’t put your neck out there and challenge yourself, at least a little bit, you will never grow mentally and emotionally enough to nurture your self-esteem. You must not retreat into your comfortable little shell, so to speak, because you’ve been beaten up by life. When life kicks your butt the best defence is a good offense.

So what do I mean by good offense? What I mean is you push yourself mentally, emotionally and physically to become a better person. That could mean spending some extra hours each week taking a public speaking course because you’re too nervous to speak in front of others. It could mean going on that trip across country by yourself to force yourself to rely on yourself and meet new people and learn to be independent. It could mean going to the gym 2 or 3 days a week to lose weight and eating better food. It could also mean standing up to that out of control co-worker, boss or relative whose been bullying you nonstop. Those are some of the things I mean when I say push yourself. Only you know what that challenging thing is so make it a priority to do so.

The reason why purshing yourself is important for improving your self-esteem is because the human animal thrives on challenge and eventually grows as a result of it. By challenging yourself you will see that you are stronger and more resilient than you know, and by achieving goals you never thought you could, you will get a certain satisfaction from doing so and your self-esteem flourish as a result. Remember the body builder’s credo; no pain, no gain.

Conclusion

Having a healthy self-esteem is vital to reaching your goals and dreams in life. It is important to being a success in every avenue in your life so it is critically important that you have as many tools in your arsenal possible to keep your self-esteem high. Hopefully this blog post was helpful for you and or at least made a good starting point for further reading of other material and videos that will be of benefit to you.

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