Self-esteem can simply be defined as one’s self-evaluation or opinion of one’s self. People who have low self-esteem may not be easy to spot. You need to get to know a person well and see how they treat themselves in their daily lives. Most are predisposed to self-hate and easily see their faults and failures even when no one else notices them.
Since they have a low opinion of themselves, they usually settle for unhealthy relationships. Some may even accept abuse and feel that they deserve it for falling short of other people’s expectations. They may even forego achieving their dreams to put the needs and wants of other people first.
Conversely, people who have high self-esteem are more resilient and possess self-acceptance. They feel content in who they are but they also try to continually evolve. They accept challenges easily and engage in positive self-talk.
Self-esteem and self-worth are two related but different terms. As defined by Merriam Webster, self-worth is “a sense of one’s value as a human being.” Self-esteem, as defined in the World Book Dictionary is “thinking well of oneself; self-respect.”
Having a good level of self-esteem is not permanent. You may feel good about yourself today; but sometimes when life gives you challenges, you may not deal with them well. This may result in dissatisfaction and cause harm to your self-esteem. Growing up in a negative environment can also affect your self-esteem.
There are ways you can improve or maintain a healthy level of self-esteem. This is an important part of self-care. You can learn to practice self-love, valuing yourself more and treating yourself with compassion. Here are 5 ways to build and maintain healthy self-esteem:
1. Be your Authentic Self
We tend to base an idea of who we really are through the eyes of others, our work, our role in the family, how much we make, our social situation and the kind of people we surround ourselves with. How can you be your authentic self?
- Do what makes you happy.
- Be vulnerable. Filter out people who you should not be associating with and welcome the type of people you share similar interests and fears with.
- Be the best version of yourself but do it for you.
How do you know you are your true self? When your thoughts, feelings and actions match you feel less stress and no longer require a lot of energy to put on a face that people prefer.
2. Use Positive Affirmations
If you have a habit of putting yourself down or criticizing yourself for even the slightest failures, remember that at least you tried. Count your action as a small win Even if it may seem like a tiny, irrelevant victory – it’s still a win!
Affirm your true self by being the decision-maker in your life. One common example is: most people don’t assert their choice of restaurant when in a group. Assert yourself by deciding what and where you want to eat instead of always letting others make the decision.
3. Be comfortable in Accepting Compliments
It’s innate in all humans that we want to be praised. It is one of our deepest cravings and we may never get enough of it from other people.
Sometimes we don’t recognize our good characteristics or good things we do every day. Learn to compliment yourself. It may not seem sincere at first. It may even make you cringe, but with practice you will gradually learn to accept the compliments you give yourself.
4. Avoid self-criticism
One negative statement holds more power than ten positive comments. Knowing this, would you still say something derogatory or nasty to yourself? Be careful. Always use praise and self-acceptance when you talk to yourself.
5. Take Action in the Face of Anxiety
Every day there are things that happen that seem beyond our control. Instead of always asking for help or saying “no” just because you perceive the event as difficult, you should try to face the situation head-on. This will help build your confidence. Avoid saying “no.” This lack of ability to face a certain situation will only serve as a roadblock in future similar events. Instead of questioning “Can I do this?” ask yourself “What steps can I do to achieve this?”
These strategies may seem unnatural at first but with practice they will be less anxiety-provoking. Over time, your negative thoughts will become weaker and you’ll be able to overcome them. You’ll find yourself with fewer resentments and limiting beliefs. You’ll be able to enjoy more activities. Having new dreams and aspirations will come naturally. You’ll also have a stronger drive to achieve your newfound dreams. The world will seem to open up to you with more possibilities and you’ll value yourself more.
You may be surprised to find that relationships with family and friends become better as your relationship with yourself improves. Life gets better as you get better. It’s only natural for people to want to be with people who are pleasant to be around.