16 Apr 2024

Self-esteem and 5 ways to improve the view of yourself

By Maria Laskou, Counsellor and Psychotherapist at The Eaves

Self-esteem can be defined as an individual’s view of their own worth as a person and it incorporates their general evaluation and beliefs about their own capabilities, traits and overall value.

Self-esteem plays a crucial role in an individual’s life and it can positively or negatively affect their relationship with themselves and others, as well as their mental health and overall well-being.

High self-esteem is linked to a positive view of oneself, a sense of confidence in one’s abilities and belief in one’s own value as a person; whilst low self-esteem is characterised by feelings of not being good enough, a sense of inadequacy, self-doubt and a poor sense of self-worth. So, it is very important for every individual who experiences low self-esteem to help themselves cultivate a more positive view of themselves.

How can you boost your self-esteem?

1. You could notice and identify negative thought patterns and try to challenge them.

At certain points in your life, you may have found yourself talking in a very harsh and judgmental way about yourself and putting yourself down about your perceived flaws. You may have used phrases such as: “I am such a… (insert derogatory word)”, “I will never be good at…”, “I always get this wrong”, “How could I expect anything better? etc. During these moments, you could just pause and try to become aware of how cruel you are being towards yourself. You could notice that you are being your own worst critic and you could encourage yourself to challenge these self-critical thoughts, as well as question their validity. You could for example ask yourself: “Is it true that I am always… (insert judgmental word)?”, or “are there instances where I have been more… (insert positive comment)?”, and “how can I help myself reframe my negative beliefs about myself?”

2. You could choose to set realistic/achievable goals and acknowledge your achievements.

By setting specific goals you could encourage yourself to work towards a desired outcome whilst trying to enjoy the journey of reaching that outcome. You could learn to celebrate small wins during the process and to be your own cheerleader along the way. You could allow yourself to feel proud about what you have done well, but to also learn from your mistakes and setbacks. You could encourage yourself to celebrate your small victories, which could motivate you to keep working on your goals, and to gradually reach them. Your achievements could be perceived as evidence of your capabilities, perseverance and resilience, which could in turn give a boost to your self-esteem.

3. You could be kinder towards yourself and practice self-compassion.

Practicing self-compassion is very important for anyone who wants to develop a healthier relationship with themselves and to improve their self-esteem. You could become self-compassionate by trying to be kinder towards yourself and more accepting of your own struggles. You could treat yourself with the same caring and loving attitude that you would treat a loved one or a close friend. You could be more understanding of your own difficulties and talk to yourself in a non-judgmental and nurturing way. As part of being more self-compassionate you could also try to practice better self-care and to incorporate self-care routines in your everyday life. Self-care could include anything that gives you a sense of respite from your daily struggles and provides the opportunity for you to enjoy the present moment.

4. You could surround yourself with positive people and communities.

The people you allow into your life and surround yourself with have a great impact on the way you feel about yourself, and they can affect your self-esteem. That’s why it is very important to cultivate relationships with individuals and groups who acknowledge and validate your positive traits and who can see the best in you. These people can be a source of acceptance, understanding and warmth in both good and challenging times in your life. They can offer support, empathy and kindness, as well as remind you of all your achievements and positive personal characteristics when you seem to forget about these. In contrast, it could be a good idea to distance yourself from toxic people who always try to remind you of your misdoings, who use judgmental and critical language, and who try to minimise your achievements and dismiss your feelings, even if these people are family members or so-called ‘friends’.

5. You could try to stop comparing yourself to others.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy and I believe he had a point. As social animals, it is understandable that we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and to measure our achievements and attributes against those of other people. However, this comparison more often than not leads to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and poor self-worth. When we compare ourselves to others we usually tend to minimise and undervalue our own unique qualities and accomplishments, whilst we tend to focus on other people’s perceived achievements, positive traits or relationships, which can evoke feelings of self-doubt and can lead us to undervalue our own strengths and achievements. So, it could be a better approach to try to focus on your own progress and development; if you feel you would like to compare yourself to someone, you could perhaps compare yourself to your past self – let’s say from 12 months ago- and evaluate your personal progress and growth since then.

To conclude:

Self-esteem plays a significant role in our lives and it’s crucial in developing a healthy relationship with ourselves and with others. It can be cultivated through the 5 ways that I have described above, and many more. It requires consistent practice, as it can be viewed as an ongoing process and a life-long journey. I would encourage you to be patient and kind to yourself and to try to practice any of the tips that I mention above which may be a good fit for you. Also, remember to acknowledge and celebrate your progress and development along the way.

If you found this article helpful and would like to have a chat about how we could work together to cultivate your self-esteem or to explore any other difficulty you are struggling with, please do not hesitate to contact me via email, text or call.

The Eaves Counselling and Psychology

Maria Laskou, Counsellor and Psychotherapist at The Eaves, is based at our Farnham practice. To find out more about Maria, or to enquire about her latest availability, please visit her profile here

The Eaves Counselling and Psychology Ltd is a select professional body of Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Psychologists, providing high quality psychological care Monday to Saturday between 9am and 9pm from our practices in Guildford, Godalming, Farnham, Haslemere and online.

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