Struggling with low self-esteem can make everything in life feel hard.
Social situations make you feel anxious and not good enough, relationships trigger feelings of insecurity, and you may find that in school and work you hold yourself back rather than being ambitious and trying to meet your goals.
Unfortunately, low self-esteem can do more than just hold you back.
Lacking self-worth can also lead you into situations and relationships that have a negative impact on your life and keep you from living authentically.
Throughout my life, I have battled low self-esteem.
It wasn’t until I began to deal with the problem head-on that I was able to figure out what I truly wanted and start living life on my terms.
If you are facing issues caused by low self-esteem, I want to share with you some of my tips on how to overcome low self-esteem and start building confidence in yourself and your abilities.
By using these 8 simple tips, I’ve been able to empower myself and overcome the challenges of low self-esteem, and I know that if you implement them, you will feel more empowered in your own life.
1. Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
One of the best ways to begin to overcome low self-esteem is to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself.
It is hard to change your thinking patterns if you don’t know what thoughts to change, so if you can identify the thoughts and beliefs that pop up when you are feeling down on yourself, you can work on changing them.
Many times, feelings of low self-esteem come and go and are attached to certain people, situations, or areas in our lives.
If you start to notice that you feel worse about yourself around a person or in an area, like romantic relationships, stop and pay attention to your thoughts.
Take a second to write them down or record them on your phone. Then, try to identify deeply held beliefs that motivate these unhelpful thoughts.
By doing this, you know what you are “fighting” against, rather than trying to improve your self-esteem through more superficial means.
2. Turn Negative to Neutral
One of the most helpful tips I used to improve my self-esteem was to turn my negative beliefs about myself into neutral, and eventually positive, affirmations.
The thing with positive affirmations is that if you jump into them too quickly, they can feel forced or fake and you can actually end up feeling worse when you try to make yourself believe them.
I found it much more practical and helpful to take my negative thoughts and make them neutral.
For instance, I’m ugly, becomes a more neutral I’m average, which becomes I’m uniquely attractive, which becomes I’m actually really pretty.
With a slow transition over weeks, months, or years (however long it takes!) you build up a more realistic positive view of yourself to genuinely increase your self-esteem.
3. Practice Assertiveness
If you struggle with low self-esteem, the thought of being assertive can be intimidating. I know it was for me.
However, practicing assertiveness is one of the best ways to increase your self-esteem and reduce stress in your life. It is a great way to show respect to yourself, stop people-pleasing, and figure out what you really want.
It is important to remember that assertiveness doesn’t equal aggressiveness.
Being assertive simply means that you clearly and directly ask for what you want, and walk away from situations that you are uncomfortable with.
It’s a good idea to practice assertiveness in low-risk situations, like returning wrong orders at a restaurant, before being assertive in emotionally charged existing dynamics with friends, partners, or family.
4. Be Your Own Best Friend
Many times, those of us with self-esteem issues face a seriously mean inner critic who keeps us trapped in a cycle of self-loathing.
To break the self-loathing cycle and increase your self-esteem, start treating yourself like your own best friend.
Sit down and make a list of what you expect in a best friend. Also, write down what kind of things you do for your own best friend. Your list will probably include some of the following items:
- Unconditional support
- Understanding and empathy
- Kind, encouraging words
- A shoulder to cry on
Take this list, and the items on your own list, and be all of those things to yourself.
Instead of talking down to yourself, be kind and supportive.
Develop trust in yourself that you’ll always be there for yourself and that you won’t put yourself down.
Once you become your own best friend, you’ll find that you have more confidence and trust in yourself.
5. Write Down What is True
This is an actionable step that you can do whenever you feel lost in feelings of negative self-esteem.
Some people like to do more structured journaling with prompts, while others like me simply like to make lists.
Whatever your method, take some time to write down your thoughts and as I like to say, write down what is true.
To me, this means that I sit down and I write down the truth of a situation or of a character trait of myself.
Journaling (or listing) not only releases my emotion about a situation, but it helps me dig down and get at the real truth, not what my inner critic says or what the outside world has impressed on me.
If you take the time to write about a feeling, situation, or character trait you are struggling with, you often come to a better understanding through writing down what you believe is the truth.
6. Surround Yourself With Support
When you have low self-esteem, it is hard to gain more confidence on your own. It is so much easier, and more fun, with a group of supportive people around you.
While it might seem hard to find a supportive group of people at first, you can learn to seek out like-minded people who are interested in building each other up rather than tearing one another down.
If you already have supportive friends or family members, try to spend more time with them and even let them know that you are working on feeling better about yourself.
Ask them to reach out if they see you are struggling. If there are any co-workers, classmates, teachers, or other people in your life who you know provide a safe space, embrace them as a support system.
7. Disengage With Downers
One of the hardest tips to implement when working on your self-esteem is to disengage with those who bring you down.
While it seems like “common sense” to stop talking to people who reinforce your negative beliefs or even try to make you feel worse, it's often easier said than done.
Toxic people that are close to you can have a stronghold over your emotions, and in some cases, they can even be central to your livelihood, like in the case of parents or spouses.
Despite the difficulty disengaging with these people might entail, it may ultimately be necessary for your self-esteem and self-worth. If a person is unwilling to change and be supportive of who you are, they are not healthy to be around.
They will continue to bring you down and make your path to better self-esteem harder than it already is. It is best to find a way to move away from toxic relationships with non-supportive people as you grow and change.
8. See a Counselor
My final tip to improve your self-esteem is to visit a counselor or therapist.
Therapy isn’t for crazy people or people with “serious” issues; therapy is for anyone who wants to work on themselves and lead a happier life.
A therapist can help you pinpoint where your low self-esteem issues began and give you ways to cope with and change negative beliefs and thought patterns.
A counselor can also guide you through shifts in your personal relationships and help you navigate complex dynamics with existing people in your life.
Keep Working Towards Better Self-Esteem
My last, unofficial, tip on how to increase your self-esteem, is to never give up. No matter where you start from, or how bad you feel, you can always take small steps to feel better.
Any one of these 8 tips can get you started on a path to better self-esteem as long as you keep at it and don’t give up.
You may have moments where you slide back into negativity, but you will find that over time you will start to feel better and better about yourself if you try.