Low self-esteem isn’t something you’re born with. People develop low self-esteem for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the cause of poor self-image, it’s something we’ve come to believe about ourselves. Maybe you had critical parents or another family member who convinced you that you weren’t “good enough”. Perhaps you are a survivor of trauma and you are feeling weak or less than. No matter what caused you to feel this way, there are ways to boost your confidence and help you feel better about yourself.
When it comes to self-esteem, how you talk to yourself matters
When you have low self-esteem, it will get worse when you are hard on yourself. You won’t be able to control the thoughts that come into your mind about your self-image, but you have power over how to respond to them. You could think something along the lines of “I’m a failure.” That makes you feel bad about yourself naturally. According to Cognitive Behavior Therapy, this is what we call “labeling.” You are calling yourself a name because you believe you did something “wrong.” Maybe you got fired from your job, and this makes you deem yourself a loser. You’re not a loser because of one thing that happened to you. Recognize what you’re doing and stop. Reframe that thought to accurately depict the situation. “I got fired, and it’s upsetting, but I will find a new job”.
Being hard on yourself makes you feel down. Here’s a technique you can use to help yourself feel better during difficult moments. Practice self-compassion. Imagine you have the thought “No one is ever going to love me.” That’s a painful thought to have. You can help yourself feel better by practicing self-compassion. Talk to yourself as if you were speaking to a good friend. “Wow, it must be so painful for you to feel this way. I’m sorry you are hurting.” Being kind and compassionate to yourself helps you to develop a more positive self-image and better self-esteem.
Be an expert
We all have strengths and things that we are good at. When you engage in hobbies or activities that you’re good at, you can increase your self-esteem and confidence. Allow yourself the opportunity to thrive in a setting where you do well! Whether that’s writing, acting, running, playing tennis or fixing electronics, you are good at something. Find out what that is and do that. You’ll find yourself feeling good about you.
These are just a few ways to improve your self-esteem. Start practicing them and notice how your self-image changes over time. If you’ve been hard on yourself for a while it could take a lot of practice to break those patterns, but it is possible to view yourself differently. Remember that no one is confident all the time, but we can do our best to feel good about ourselves.
Photo courtesy of: Taylor Smith
About the author
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.