So many of us have struggled with our self-esteem, sometimes for longer than we can remember; whether it be related to our appearance, capabilities, relationships, or any other element of living. Being plagued by poor self-confidence is detrimental to mental health and healthy living in general. This widespread misfortune leads to many negative effects such as having lower life satisfaction, less meaning, an increased risk of self-destructive behaviors, increased stress and anxiety, a lower likelihood of success, and less enjoyable social interactions.
While these negative effects seem like an insurmountable mountain that can’t be breached, there is hope for those who wish to improve their confidence. It should be stated that it can be more difficult to cope with low self-esteem when it’s exacerbated by other mental health conditions. However, these recommendations have foundations in positive psychology that mental health professionals use to assist in reforming these negative perceptions.
1.) Brainstorm and remind yourself often of your admirable qualities and strengths. Regardless of whether it’s possible to believe or not, we all have unique strengths, positive traits, and virtues. What is something you’ve always enjoyed doing? Are you a good listener, a competent writer, an analytical thinker? What are some traits you like about your appearance? Do you have a warm smile, bright eyes or a strong frame? What do you value most in life? Is it beauty, or kindness or love? Those are sources of positivity for sure. What are
some things that make you unique? Do you have a funny quirk, a special skill that no one knows about or unique visions for your life? What have kind loved ones said about you? Has someone complimented your intelligence, your style, or your work ethic? Through self-discovery, surely you will be able to uncover traits worthy of your esteem.
2.) Discover, understand, and use your passions. What really makes you excited about life? We all have things that we excel at whether it be teaching, caring for others, listening, analyzing complex problems, or a million other strengths. What is something new you’ve always wanted to try? Who knows? Maybe you’ll find success in an area you never knew you could. In fiinding the overlap between your interests and talents, while using them as much as possible, you will feel not only feel valuable, but fulfilled.
3.) Stop comparing yourself to others. Whether it be a sibling, friend, colleague, or anyone in life, comparisons are poisonous to fostering and maintaining confidence. Envy and low self-worth often go hand-in-hand. Overcoming this hurdle will take time for many of us, especially those of us who were conditioned in Western society. When you begin to make comparisons, stop your thoughts by asserting in your mind, “stop.” Then proceed to replace thoughts of envy with thoughts like: “Life is not a competition” or “My life is its own unique story.” Just because someone is doing “better” doesn’t mean that you will never know fulfillment.
4.) Practice self-compassion. Our inner voices can be some of the cruelest we’ll ever hear. That can change with a little imagination. Try to imagine the little voice in your head as kinder and more compassionate. If you often fall or have endless setbacks, with your kinder inner voice, remind yourself that everyone stumbles at times and this will lead to your growth. Perhaps envision your current self offering comfort to the child you were. How would you speak to your childlike self? With kindness and softness or harshness and cruelty? Studies consistently show that positive self-talk correlates with higher self-confidence. Why not close your eyes, take a deep breath, and give it a try?
5.) Seek out professional help. This is always a beneficial goal for those whom professional assistance is attainable. If your self-esteem is negatively impacting your life and wellness, talking to a professional online, in-person, or in more affordable contexts may be time well spent. Self-esteem often occurs more profusely in those with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Plus, many life situations like a transition, a new relationship, or abusive pasts can cause self-confidence to crumble. Never be afraid to reach out for help. This is one of the truest forms of self-love!
Not only would improving your confidence lead to relief from self-deprecation, but more research has shown that there are mental health benefits to cultivating healthier self-esteem. Studies show that having healthy self-esteem improves positive relationships in your life while also breaking the cycle of unhealthy ones. It has also been shown to increase the ability to try more things and have stronger decision-making skills. Likewise, it allows you to have better resilience when dealing with setbacks and life’s most difficult moments. Even though sometimes it may seem like improving self-esteem can be a losing battle, with a little initiative you will finally be able to live your life as the worthy person you are.