Everyone experiences times of self-doubt. These moments can make us feel as if we are not good enough or that we do not have the right qualities about ourselves, and this can lead to a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy in which our doubts prevent us from taking risks or putting ourselves out there. It is important to recognize that while self-doubt is destructive if left to grow freely on its own, self-doubt does not have to be a constant feeling throughout our lives.
Why build self-esteem?
We can take control of our self-doubt and develop greater self-esteem. This can be one of the most valuable gifts we give ourselves. High self-esteem can lead us to accomplish new goals, work towards our dreams and be happier in general. After all, we spend all of our time with ourselves, and we deserve to have that feeling of contentment with ourselves.
Ways to improve self-esteem
Here are some ideas for improving self-esteem:
- Have a role model. While you should not strive to be a copy of another person, looking towards someone who shares similar qualities with you (or has qualities you would like to develop) can be a great way to feel proud of those qualities in yourself.
- Write out a list of your good qualities. Think of what makes you a unique and valuable person. Read your list (or write a new one) frequently.
- Act as if you feel self-confident*. This is similar to the idea behind the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it.” Tell yourself that you are confident in your abilities and you have a healthy self-esteem until you find yourself believing it. Think about the risks you would take if you were feeling confident and happy with yourself, and take them.
- Don’t compare yourself with others. Recognize that everyone deserves to feel special, happy and worthy, and nobody should have to be better than other people. If you compare yourself, you will always be able to find someone who you believe is smarter than you or more attractive, and you will never be satisfied with yourself.
- Do things you enjoy, whether it is playing a sport, reading a book or doing something that allows to express yourself creatively. You may feel a stronger sense of self-esteem because the way you are spending your time is for yourself.
- Compliment others. We often get back what we put out into the world.
- Try something new. A new experience can improve your view of yourself and keep your mind open to trying other new experiences. Know that even if you fail or are rejected, you will feel proud of yourself for trying and you have an opportunity to learn from the experience.
- Dress for yourself. Wear clothes that you feel are a good expression of who you are and make you feel happy. If you like wearing makeup or styling your hair a certain way then do not change that for someone else.
- Tackle some of the chores you have been avoiding. You will feel more capable and accomplished when you are done.
- Make decisions. It can be hard when you are second guessing yourself or very laid back, but making your own decisions, rather than allowing someone else to make them for you, can give you confidence in your own ideas and destiny.
Be kind to yourself
While it is important to have a healthy level of self-esteem, do not get down on yourself if you are experiencing self-doubt. Remember that part of being content with ourselves is recognizing that we are human and have the right to make mistakes. Always show yourself kindness and self-compassion, which is at least as important as self-esteem. So, in the sense that I’m using self-esteem in this blog, it definitely overlaps more with self-compassion, and I’m NOT endorsing self-aggrandizing or encouraging social comparisons.