10 Ways to Improve Your Self Esteem

The majority of people lack confidence in who they are and what they can accomplish. In fact, approximately 85 percent of the population is affected by low self esteem, according to Dr. Joe Rubino in The Self Esteem Book.

Low self esteem can manifest in many ways, including feelings of being unloved, avoiding new things, negative self-talk, and difficulty making friends. While there are many causes of low self-esteem, many individuals can trace their lack of confidence and self-assuredness to their childhoods. Overly-critical parents, bullying, childhood trauma, and mental health disorders can all lead to self-esteem issues in adulthood.

Self-esteem is not just a mood or a feeling. It is a state of being that is tied to both physical actions and mental patterns. It can also be practiced and can increase over time. The more often individuals partake in self-esteem building thoughts and habits, the easier it becomes. Here are 10 tips for improving your self esteem and growing into the more assertive, appreciative version of yourself.

  • Practice mindfulness. When we are simply aware of ourselves without judging our thoughts or actions as good, bad, right, or wrong, we can begin to develop more acceptance of and confidence in ourselves. Mindfulness practices such as meditation are one way to practice this awareness.
  • Accept your doubt.
    Self-doubt is natural. By judging yourself for your doubt or telling yourself you “shouldn’t” be feeling a certain way, you can actually make your fear and self-doubt worse. Practice accepting that everyone makes mistakes and feels doubt sometimes.
  • Turn your anxiety into excitement. Physiologically, anxiety and excitement look very similar. Both can manifest as a fast pulse, shallow breathing, sweaty hands and elevated levels of adrenaline. By reframing your anxiety as excitement, you can improve your confidence levels and your willingness to try new things.
  • Set manageable goals. If you set goals that are too strict or lofty, you will find yourself failing over and over. While failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be disheartening if you never experience a “win.” By setting small, attainable goals you can build confidence in yourself over time.
  • Visualize your success.
    If you go into a situation thinking about everything that could go wrong, you may create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, visualize yourself succeeding and doing well. You can even imagine feeling confident and relaxed, which may trick your body into following suit and calming down, creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Don’t over-apologize. An apology can be a powerful tool that signals responsibility and maturity. However, over-using apologies or apologetic words can backfire, causing you to appear hesitant or unsure. Making excuses or apologizing for things that are not your fault can harm your self-esteem.
  • Try power posing. In her TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy talks about the benefits of “power posing.” The mind and the body are closely linked, and sometimes striking a confident pose can increase a felt sense of assuredness. Try focusing on improving your posture or taking a yoga or dance class to boost your body’s assertiveness—and your mind will follow.
  • Practice failure. It may seem counterintuitive, but some individuals need failure exposure therapy. If you haven’t had a lot of experience with failure, chances are it will be scarier to you and you will take more extreme measures to avoid it. Practice intentionally failing in small ways so you can teach your nervous system that failing is okay and not the end of the world.
  • Evaluate your friend group. Do your friends and loved ones make you feel supported and good about yourself? Or do you feel down and depleted after you spend time with them? If your friend group isn’t encouraging you and boosting your confidence, it may be time to draw some boundaries or find new friends.
  • Learn a new skill. Working on your competence in one area can improve your confidence all-around. Find something you are passionate about and learn how to do it really well. As you develop a sense of self-sufficiency and self-efficacy around something you love, your self-esteem will grow over time.

VentSpace is a free app where you can anonymously share your thoughts, feelings and struggles with other users and get supportive feedback. No filters. No judgement. No names.