Building Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is measured by self-worth and can be easily influenced by academic and professional success, relationships, illnesses, physical limitations, disabilities and mental health. As easily as all of the aforementioned can negatively impact self-esteem, all of the aforementioned can also drive and help to boost self-esteem. When properly and healthily managed there is unstoppable potential for growth and self-improvement.


It is invaluable to appreciate and like yourself, because self-esteem drives motivation and positive measures of success. Healthy self-esteem can help you navigate life from a more positive lens, inviting in appreciation, positivity, assertiveness, and the belief you can achieve your goals.


Here are a few telltale signs of healthy self-esteem:


  • Practicing your right to say no

  • Accepting strengths and weaknesses

  • Healthily expressing needs

  • Feeling confident


Navigating Low Self-Esteem


Has childhood disapproval snuck up on you in unsuspecting ways in adulthood? Disapproval, dysfunction, or a poor relationship can alter a person’s sense of self-worth.


Self-esteem, self-worth and self-respect are interchangeable. One particular and necessary ingredient for self-esteem includes self-love. Low self-esteem results in feelings of inadequacy, feelings of depression and feelings of defeat.


Selfish people are also wildly lacking self-love and self-esteem. In this instance, overcompensation is most commonly the first sign that self-love should be prioritized.


Furthermore, no one person is more worthy than the next. Approaching self-esteem building from this perspective is crucial. Put the fear of being worthless aside. Oftentimes we are harder on ourselves than necessary. Ease up on yourself, break up with the inner critic, and start talking to yourself like you would someone you love.


Remember, self-esteem comes from within. Insecurity is a sign that self-esteem needs to be reprioritized. Be careful of seeking external validation. Relying on others for your self-esteem is like filling a holey bucket with water, this can become a detrimental pattern. Remember no one is responsible for making you feel good about yourself.


Here is the short list of signs that you have low self-esteem:

  • Trouble accepting positive feedback

  • Believing that others are better than you

  • Fear of failure

  • Dwelling in the past

  • Focusing on weaknesses


Boosting Self-Esteem


Realizing there may be issues with self-esteem festering in your life, is the first step in the right direction. Based on Abraham Maslow’s motivational pyramid, the next step to building self-esteem, is being sure your basic necessities are met including, breath and food. Considering most people have access to both, there is then space to seek for love, safety, self-worth and belonging. This is where you begin to add and find meaning in life. Social fulfillment follows and happens through creativity, social progress and intellectual development.


Along the path to building self-esteem remember, it is okay to be imperfect. Your goals are of course important, but it is as important to understand that you are not less valuable if you have not yet reached them.


Explore and identify your negative beliefs about yourself, and challenge them. Try writing out your negative thoughts on a piece of paper or in a journal, and note when you first started to believe this negative thought. Next, take note of the evidence that challenges these negative thoughts and write down positive things about yourself. You can also take note of the positive things others say about you.


Here is a simple list of other ways to build self-esteem:


  • Take time to reflect on what you are good at

  • Build relationships with positive and supportive people

  • Be (positively) assertive

  • Exercise your right to say no

  • Step outside of your comfort zone


Self-esteem is invaluable and can change the trajectory of your life. Start prioritizing you, now.


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© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.