Self esteem

How do I raise my self esteem?

This is an often asked question by clients and friends. It’s a key word that’s mentioned in news articles, pop psychology and teacher staff rooms.

We generally see self-esteem as being contingent, e.g. I have to be good at this, I have to look this way, I have to be “normal”, in order to have a good sense of self esteem. Is self esteem important? Of course! Often, having little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. (It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism.) Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories.

There are many, many ways to improve self esteem. I’d like to start with getting people to think from a different perspective towards self esteem. That is, let’s look at self esteem as a function of being accepting of ourselves. Self-acceptance is embracing the fact that every human being is unique. We are all flawed in different ways. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean you need to be content with or stay the way you are; if you want to improve your marks, get better at sport etc, that’s great, there’s a goal. However, do not attach your happiness to an outcome.

Furthermore, don’t make happiness a goal. Emotions and moods fluctuate. Make living the life you want to live as the goal. Teach yourself to recognise that you’re human, show yourself kindness and self compassion, accept yourself for who you are, and work toward building and living the life you want to.

Here are some tips/examples that may be handy for building self esteem:

  • Notice and normalise the fact that you would compare yourself to others; our brains have evolved to do that. Just because you’re different in some aspect doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
  • Find factors and attributes that define who you are- am I a funny person? Am I a caring person? Do I consider myself a good friend? After you find a few qualities of who you are/or want to be (or find attractive in a role model), find examples of you demonstrating this in the past week. If you’re having trouble doing this, perhaps it’s time to think what meaningful things can you do to show that you have these qualities. Then…as Nike put’s it, “Just Do It”.
  • Stop beating yourself up. At some point, you’d have to let go of having a better past, and help yourself focus on the present which will improve your chances of having a better future.
  • Put yourself first in a balanced way, particularly if you’re prone to putting others before you.




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