Self-Esteem: What It Is and Improving It
Updated: Jan 2
Written by Sunny Yuan
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is one’s sense of self-worth. Having healthy self-esteem means that one feels secure about who they are and are assured of their value. On the other hand, having low self-esteem means lacking self confidence and belief in what oneself is capable of. While everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, those with low self-esteem oftentimes fix their entire self view on just their weaknesses rather than a complete representation of themselves.
Benefits and Importance of a Healthy Self-Esteem
We all personally have something valuable to offer if we are part of this world. A healthy, high self-esteem recognizes this in oneself, allowing one to live as a happier and more self-confident person in general. This is a contrast from individuals with low self-esteem who
often feel incompetent, insecure, or inadequate, which also makes them think they are not accepted or liked by other people. Moreover, those with low self-esteem tend to give up easily, while those with high self-esteem feel empowered to strive towards their utmost potential as they are confident enough to take more risks.
How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem?
Focus on the present
One major factor that may be holding your self-esteem back is the past. Thus, you have to forgive yourself for your past mistakes or relinquish yourself from regrets you may have about the past. Rather than getting stuck in your past failures, you should consider what you have learned and apply that experience in a useful way in the present.
Eliminate toxic self talk
Another factor that encourages low self-esteem is the habit of negative self talk. Next time, try challenging the accuracy of your self criticism, which may be overstated; for instance, calling yourself a failure just because you didn’t do something perfectly. In addition, don’t continue to beat yourself down with toxic self talk when you don’t meet up to your expectations. Statements such as “I’m such an idiot” or “I’m so incompetent” will only discourage you even further. Instead, practice being a friend and ally to yourself, only forming constructive criticism that is going to uplift yourself like “keep practicing to make this part better”.
Learn to recognize the positive about yourself, which you may have overlooked by being too hard on yourself. When you receive compliments from other people, actually acknowledge
these positive qualities that you have instead of brushing them off, undermining their significance. After allowing yourself to feel good about who you already are, try being more assertive by expressing yourself in a clear and intentional manner. This practice will help you become more self-confident.
Take practical action to improve yourself
Create the future that you want for yourself by setting practical goals and plans to work on yourself. You can try to find a hobby or something that you feel really passionate about, which will improve your view of your self-worth. In addition, although it may sound counterintuitive, taking time off of yourself occasionally to volunteer to help others is actually great practice for your self improvement and self-esteem building as well. That is because helping out others makes you feel more fulfilled, and it affirms that you are valued by others. It doesn’t have to be helping others with something huge either; simply finding ways to help others on day-to-day matters, like helping your parents cook dinner, can be just as meaningful.
Gaining self-esteem is a difficult but significant process. Applying these strategies will take time and practice, and you can always seek more help and resources if you need support at any time.