When your self-esteem is low, you think lowly of yourself – this means that you underestimate yourself and what is inside that smart brain of yours. When you lack confidence, you are afraid of doing something because you think you’re really awful at it and cannot do it right or you can’t do it the way your friends do. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence takes a bad toll and if not checked, can lead to depression. But you don’t have to live your life in the shell forever. There are some steps you can take that are sure to improve your self-esteem and confidence.
1. Understand self-esteem. Self-esteem, or the way we feel about ourselves, is an important aspect of our emotional well-being. High self-esteem means that we love and accept ourselves for the way we are, and generally feel satisfied most of the time. Low self-esteem means that we are not happy with the way we are.
2. Evaluate your self-esteem. Knowing that you have low self-esteem is the first step to improving and overcoming that mental habit. You may have low self-esteem if you have negative thoughts about yourself. These thoughts can revolve around one specific trait, such as your weight or body image, or it can encompass many areas of your life, peer groups and relationships.
If your inner voice, or thoughts about yourself, are mostly critical, you likely have low self-esteem.
If your inner voice tends to be positive and comforting, you have higher self-esteem.
3. Notice your inner voice. When you have thoughts about yourself, determine whether they are positive or negative. If you have trouble evaluating this or noticing a pattern, try writing down thoughts you have about yourself every day for a few days or a week. Then look at the statements for patterns or tendencies.
The inner voice of someone with low self-esteem often manifests in one of the following personas: a nagger, a generalist, a comparer, or a mind-reader. Each of these unique inner voices either insults you or assumes the worst about other people’s perception of you.
Silencing the negative inner voice is a first step in building your confidence. Replacing it with more positive thoughts will be the next goal.
4. Find the source of lowered self-esteem. No one has low self-esteem from birth; it generally builds from childhood due to needs not being met, negative feedback from others, or due to a major negative life event. Knowing the source of your self-esteem problems can help you overcome them.
If you noticed a particular pattern when evaluating your inner voice, try to trace those feelings back to your first memory about them.
For example, if your negativity is about your weight or appearance, try to remember when you first started feeling uncomfortable with your weight; was it due to a particular comment or group of comments?
5. Set a goal to improve your self-esteem. The key to developing self-esteem is to turn your inner voice from a negative, critical voice to a positive, encouraging voice. Ultimately, you will have to decide to put in the work of re-framing the way you think about yourself. Setting an initial goal to be more positive about yourself will put you on the path to greater self-confidence.
6. Forgive yourself for any perceived imperfections. Remember that you, like everyone, are human. You do not have to be perfect to have high self-esteem. If you can accept yourself as you are, even if you are trying to improve in some areas, you will have much higher self-esteem.
Create a mantra for yourself, like “that’s okay, I’m awesome anyway.”
7. Set aside time for self-care. It can be difficult to make time for yourself, but making time to do things that make you feel relaxed and happy can improve your self-esteem as well as your productivity at work and at home.
8. Surround yourself with positive people. If there are negative influences in your life that cause you to feel badly about yourself, try to minimize or eliminate the time you spend with them. Include in your life instead people who are positive and support your positive self-thoughts.
9. Spend time on personal hygiene and presentation. If you put thought and time into your personal appearance by selecting clothing that makes you feel confident and put-together and practicing daily hygiene habits, you will feel more comfortable and confident.