In-Depth Advice: How to Improve Self-Esteem
Posted by Jena Ann on Thu Nov 7th, 2019 at 2:24 pm
By: Jena Ann
Last month, I wrote a blog on Managing Poor Self-Esteem with Chronic Illness and talked about my own self-esteem issues, how I improved, and how to address some of the self-esteem issues caused by chronic illness. This month, I’m providing some general ideas on how a person can go about improving their self-esteem whether chronically sick or not. Many of these ideas are based on my own personal journey of feeling broken and incapable of so many things to becoming a confident and very capable person.
No one can fix their self-esteem in a day or a week. It is not an easy task. It will take time, but it is well worth the effort. You might feel a lot of pain from having to be you, from growing up in less than ideal circumstances, or from going through some dramatic or extremely challenging life scenarios. But, don’t beat yourself up for it. Accept the past, live in the present, but work toward your future. Life is challenging. This is a very complicated, messed up world we live in. Even after growing my self-esteem, I still see the world as very messed up place. I’m not some overly optimistic or ridiculously positive person, I’ve just learned to make the best of who I am and the life that I got. Which has led to a mostly positive and happy life.
We all have talents, we all have strengths, we all have a purpose, we are all needed in this world! Finding Purpose in Life When Chronically Sick.
Here are a few different things you can do to work on improving your self-esteem. I highly recommend trying multiple things, don’t focus too much on just one. The more things you try, the better off you will be.
- Make Some Lists.
This is an excellent starting point for improving your self-esteem! Everyone has different struggles self-esteem wise. I used to be very confident in how great of a friend I could be, but not so confident in my capabilities, talents and strengths. Whatever your struggles are, write them down. Make a list of the areas that you want to improve upon, it may help you know what types of things to read or work on to improve your self-esteem.
- Make a list of things you do like about yourself and look at those things often.
- This can be anything from… personality traits, appearance, skills, talents, your character (nice, kind, patient, etc.) to your awesome sense of fashion. Push yourself to come up with as many as possible.
- Make a list of things you need to work on. Are there certain things you wish you were better at?
- Make a List of things you like about your life and anything you really don’t like about your life.
- This could be anything from where you live, who you are friends with, hobbies, job, school, pets, activities you do in your free time, and so on.
- Think about what you can do to improve. For the things you do like about your life, review these often because gratefulness is a great tool for becoming more positive. Your surroundings and who you surround yourself with does greatly influence how you feel about yourself.
- Write down who you want to be. You can’t just be any one, you have to figure out who the ideal version of you is, while staying true to your personality and current likes and dislikes.
- Write down some of your dreams for the future. Having some dreams written down to accomplish, will help you as you work toward the person you want to be.
- Books and Articles
Books for Accepting Personality Traits
If you have some personality traits that feel like flaws, or that there is something wrong with you, find a book. For me personally, I was struggling with being an introvert, living an extroverted world, and growing up surrounded by many extroverted personality types. So a book that really helped me was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Caine. It helped me see that there is nothing wrong with me, and that society was the problem. I also realized at some point that I was a highly sensitive person, which is 15% of the population. Yet society doesn’t accept us or understand us, and being different is looked at as a bad thing. This made me feel like there was something wrong with me for a good majority of my life, but after reading this book I realized I wasn’t the broken one, the world is. I also learned how to embrace that I was different, and better protect myself from all the things that weren’t healthy for my highly sensitive nature.
Another thing that really helped me was the Briggs Personality Test. I realized my specific personality traits were less than 2% of the population. So that also helped me understand why I was so different, that there is something wrong with the world, not me, and how cool my personality traits are.
Books for Discovering Talents and Strengths
We ALL have talents, strengths, and the ability to influence and make a difference in this world. If you are unsure of your natural gifts try the test in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. Then, read all about your strengths. You can then work on strengthening them even more through books or classes for a career move, or just general use in everyday life.
Dealing with some traumas? Some difficult relationships?
Also check out content on Psychology Today. This is a great resource for understanding how to get through some difficult psychological battles, and to make sure you are in healthy relationships.
Some people grow up with one or more personalities that influence the way they perceive the world and themselves in a negative way. Childhood environments, and how a person is raised greatly influences the person they become. You might not even realize that a person in your life has had a negative influence on your personality or views because you have become so immune to how that person says and does things, and you may just have accepted it as normal. This site is a great resource for reading content about healthy relationships, self-esteem, and healthy mental health topics in general. But, it is also great for finding a psychologist or therapist, if you feel you need one.
Take some time every day to just read one article that is inspirational or motivational, this will help put you in a positive mindset every day. Search for inspirational articles, self-improvement articles, personal motivational articles, etc. It will help keep you motivated and confident.
- Fake It
Have you heard how you can fake confidence and by default you become more confident? I believe it works the same with self-esteem. In fact, these two are very similar concepts. If you act confident in who you are and show the world you are a confident person, you may just start to believe it yourself. But, this is going to be more effective if you do the work on improving your inner-self with some of my other suggestions, as well.
- Inspirational Quotes
Read some inspirational quotes every day. Find a few that resonate with you and write them in a journal or somewhere you can view them often. I’ve personally been inspired by some quotes to the point where they changed my views on some life topics completely. I view inspiring quotes every week, and still continue to find some really inspiring ones that teach me about how to view life in a more positive way.
One quote that really influenced me at a young age was: “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” I don’t think anyone’s life turns out exactly the way they always dreamed it would, and when that in fact does happen, most people don’t stay content, they gain new desires, new goals, or new dreams.
I can easily find multiple reasons to be unhappy with a chronic illness and all, but I make the choice most of the time to be happy, when I can. However, I’m in a much better place with both my mental health and physical health than I was over 4 years ago, so don’t feel bad if that is more challenging for you. When you deal with something like ongoing depression or anxiety, or ongoing severe pain it really isn’t that easy. Understood. But, I do think there are always things we can do to improve our views, improve our sense of self, and become more mentally healthy.
- Find a Psychologist or Therapist
Talking to a professional can be super helpful. I don’t believe this is absolutely necessary to fix self-esteem because I used to have a relatively low self-esteem and I worked through my issues on my own. Although, it could speed up the process, but could also be an expensive process. However, if you are dealing with some toxic relationships, some difficult mental health battles, chronic illness, trauma, etc, this might be essential to your efforts to improve your self-esteem.
Psychologists shouldn’t be viewed as these people who just help you fix your problems. A great one will validate the way you feel, your thoughts, and what you have been through. They will take the time to listen and ask questions. Then, guide you on a healthy path. A lot of times friends and family members can be quick to give advice without understanding what you are going through, without asking the right questions, and some may not give you the empathy or validity that you are looking for. A psychologist can give you a very healthy view on things, and they can see underlying problems that others can’t.
Also, take a look at our website for information on Integrative Psychiatry. Integrative Psychiatry takes into account a person’s mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and environmental factors, because they all affect a person’s overall health.
- Ask a Friend, Family member, or Significant Other
Do you have a close friend, family member or significant other who you love and trust? If you are comfortable enough with them, ask that person what they like/love about you. They might mention some personality traits or characteristics that you didn’t really realize you had. Write them down, so you can reference them at a later date.
- Engage in Activities that Make You Feel Good About Yourself
If you are good at writing, cooking, if you are good at being a friend, if you are good at certain crafts, incorporate these things more into your life.
I’ve personally always been really into art, but my self-esteem took a dive at one point. I focused on so many other things in my life, and I just stopped doing this one thing that I really loved. I started to question whether I was really good at it, even though I had even won two art competitions back in High School, I still didn’t believe in my abilities. But, I felt a bit empty because I wasn’t using this talent I had, and I wasn’t really taking advantage of my writing talents either. Eventually, I was able to tell myself that my thoughts were holding me back, it was not my actual lack of talent. Realizing this, I began to experiment with different arts and crafts, and eventually gained my confidence back in my abilities as an artist. I’m even working on selling my own arts and crafts as a hobby business.
Exercise, eating healthy, mindfulness, taking time for self-care can actually help with your self-esteem, as well. When you take care of your body and give it the things it needs, you will feel better physically, feel good about yourself overall, and feel healthier. What you eat and how much you exercise does greatly impact your mental health, as well.
- Comparing Yourself to Others
I think a good majority of the population has struggled with this at some point in their lives. I mean this is a common occurrence even with people who have a pretty good self-esteem.
I would say I have a pretty good self-esteem, but there are some days that are better than others. Once in a while, I will get caught in the trap of comparing myself or my life to others. I might think…their life is so much better than mine, or be jealous of something about them or something they have. But, then I remind myself of a couple things. One, there are special characteristics, personality traits, and talents that I possess that are entirely unique to me. I can only be me, so I should focus on those things instead of what things I don’t possess, and what others have. Second, we don’t see the full picture of someone else’s life: their failures, epic struggles, their success, or their happiness. So for example, if you are comparing yourself to someone else based on their Facebook or Instagram statuses, that is not the full picture. They are only showing you some positive moments, not a snap shot of their whole life. So you can’t compare your whole life or self to just some positive pieces of that person or their life.
If this is something you struggle with, disconnect a bit or completely from the land of social media. Social media is causing many young people to struggle with self-esteem through unhealthy comparisons. If you recognize that is something you struggle with, it is time to do something about it.
- Try Affirmations
Affirmations can seem silly to some people, but I think they can actually be really powerful. What are affirmations? An affirmation is when you repeat something positive to yourself whether in your head or outload. You can also write down affirmations and view them on a regular basis (place them in a place where you will see them every day using post-its). Or you can just memorize a couple positive affirmations and repeat them to yourself when you are struggling with something.
I hope this helps you on your journey to find how amazing you truly are!