I’ve recently undergone an in-depth exploration of a topic that has shaped my own self-awareness — it’s the concept of self-esteem. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling small and insignificant, even after a lifetime of accomplishments. After all, past rejections and imposter syndrome can fill us with insecurity and self-doubt no matter how many awards we’ve won or accolades we’ve received. Is it really possible to always feel confident and self-assured? Perhaps not. Perhaps that’s not the right goal. Perhaps a better goal is to little by little, day by day, work on feeling a bit better about ourselves. That seems more attainable, right? Here are some things I learned about self-esteem that I put into practice to help energize positive mental and emotional momentum. Let them seep into your belief system until they become your knowing. Let there be no doubt that you are in control of your life.
The Role of Self-Esteem
“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” – Beyoncé
Thanks, Beyoncé. Yes, self-esteem is the bedrock of self-perception and personal growth. It shapes your beliefs, steers your choices, and defines your interactions with the world. Think of self-esteem as the lens through which you view our abilities, worth, and potential. A robust self-esteem equips you with the confidence to chase your dreams, navigate challenges, and rebound from setbacks with resilience. It acts like a buffer against the storms of life. When you believe in your capabilities and inherent worth, failures are less likely to devastate you. Rather than defining your self-worth by these moments, view them as opportunities for growth and learning. This emotional resilience will enable you to navigate adversity with a sense of grace and determination. When you’re able to overcome self-doubt and fear, you’re more willing to step out of your comfort zone and embrace growth.
Healthy self-esteem paves the way for healthy relationships. When you value yourself, you’re less likely to settle for toxic dynamics or tolerate disrespect. Furthermore, having a positive self-image will enable you to offer genuine love and support to others, because you won’t be seeking validation or affirmation from external sources. You are more likely to make decisions based on your values and desires, rather than seeking approval or avoiding criticism. This authenticity will foster deeper, more meaningful connections with those around you, and it will allow you to create a life that aligns with your true self, leading to greater satisfaction and fulfillment.
Tip 1: Challenge the Illusion of Perfection
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Culture often portrays an unattainable ideal of perfection. But the truth is that nobody is perfect. The myth of perfection can foster insecurity and self-doubt, preventing you from taking charge of your life with gusto. Imperfections, rather than detracting from your value, make you uniquely human and relatable. Flaws are not really flaws, after all. They are part of what make you you. That’s not to say that you should stop caring or improving. Just do it for you from a place of self-love rather than for anyone else’s approval.
Tip 2: Practice Kinder Self-Talk
“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” – Sonya Friedman
Your self-esteem is closely tied to your inner dialogue. How you speak to yourself matters profoundly. Say nice things to yourself! You are not a bully. When you transform your self-talk, you empower yourself to revolutionize your self-perception and potential. Offer yourself the same compassion and encouragement you extend to your best friends.
Tip 3: Don’t Compare
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Constantly comparing yourself to others is a recipe for low self-esteem. Don’t do it. Each person’s journey is unique, so juxtaposing your beginning with someone else’s advanced stage is not only counterproductive, it’s ludicrous. Setting benchmarks and goals is fine, but beating yourself up because you are not where someone else appears to be is mental abuse. Redirect that energy toward your own personal growth and progress on your own path.
Tip 4: See Failure as a Catalyst for Growth
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Learn to say ‘thank you’ for your failures and the lessons you’ve learned from them. Failure is not a dead-end but rather a steppingstone to success. Think of failures and setbacks as inevitable on the journey toward achievement. Instead of allowing failure to erode your self-esteem, let them build up your tolerance, resilience, adaptability, and the courage to persevere.
Tip 5: Assert Boundaries and Get Comfortable With Saying “No”
“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho
Healthy self-esteem means knowing definitively what you want and what you don’t want, what is ok and not ok with you. Get clear with your boundaries and have no qualms about saying “no”. Practice listening to that uneasy feeling in your body when someone asks you to do something against your desires. People-pleasing comes from insecurity, from fearing rejection, and searching for external validation. Setting healthy boundaries is critical to your self-care, well-being, and self-worth.
Tip 6: Celebrate Your Success
“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” – Mia Hamm
Give yourself props for your accomplishments, regardless of their size. Feeling good about your victories is not arrogant or conceited. In fact, celebrating wins helps increase your vibration. Feel the joy of your positive impact and you’ll attract more positive successes into your life.
Tip 7: Create A Self-Care Ritual
“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
Carving out time to focus on nothing but treating yourself well is an act of self-love. Creating your own personal ritual of self-care, whatever that looks like, internally communicates self-worth to elevate your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment — like meditating, exercising, grooming, resting, building creativity, reading, and connecting with nature — cultivates an overall sense of happiness.
Tip 8: Seek Out Positive Influences
“Surround yourself with those who only lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
Your self-esteem is profoundly influenced by your social circle. Surrounding yourself with individuals who uplift and support you in your endeavors. Equally important is recognizing those people and media that undermine your confidence. Clean up your news feed to predominantly positive, productive, constructive messages
Tip 9: Get In A Growth Mindset
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs
The growth mindset is the belief in the malleability of abilities and intelligence. It’s the understanding that continuous improvement is possible, and it’s the opposite of limiting beliefs which may whisper that your age, gender, race, education, experience, or looks are holding you back. The growth mindset is the conviction that effort and perseverance can lead to mastery and success, fostering resilience and a willingness to embrace new experiences. When you believe that your skills and intelligence can be developed through effort and learning, your attitude converts obstacles into exciting challenges.
Tip 10: Do It Anyway
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – Nelson Mandela
By confronting fear, you prove to yourself that you aren’t defined by limitations but rather driven by your aspirations. Rather than asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” ask yourself “What’s the best that can happen?” Set your sights on how you mustered up the courage to do something different, try something new, or figure something out. Step up to a whole new level of you. Then be proud of yourself.
On your journey of self-esteem cultivation, remember that your worth lies in embracing your authenticity. You are exceptional, deserving, and capable. And remember, a strong sense of self-esteem doesn’t just benefit you individually; it ripples out to the larger community. When you believe in your capacity to make a positive impact, you’re more likely to engage in meaningful activities, contribute your skills, and participate in community building. This sense of purpose and contribution can lead to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
Self-esteem is far from a superficial concept; it’s the foundation upon which your emotional well-being, relationships, and personal growth are built. Cultivating healthy self-esteem requires ongoing self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to self-improvement. By recognizing your worth, embracing your imperfections, and challenging your self-limiting beliefs, you’ll be paving the way for a life characterized by resilience, fulfillment, and empowerment. You got this.