Self-esteem is one of the most important aspects of life. It’s what allows you to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments. It’s what enables you to go after the things you want and get them.
Unfortunately, many of us struggle to have high self-esteem, which can lead to a number of problems. The good news is that you don’t have to be stuck with low self-esteem your whole life, and I’m going to share 15 impactful ways to improve your self-confidence for good.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself and your worth. Your self-esteem is directly linked to your success and happiness. When you have high self-esteem you think positively of yourself and excel at life, even if you sometimes fail when you try new things.
People with low self-esteem don’t demand respect from others, they don’t pursue their dreams, and they never try new things because they assume they’ll fail.
Dismantling the deep seated insecurities we all have can take time but it is absolutely possible.
What does low self-esteem feel like?
Some very common symptoms of low self-esteem are:
- You don’t feel worthy of good things.
- You struggle to ask for what you want and need.
- You feel guilty or say “I’m sorry” too often.
- You feel stuck.
- You let other people take advantage of you.
- You think you’re unlovable.
- You don’t believe it when people complement you.
- You frequently self-sabotage.
If any of these apply to you I think you’ll find the following strategies helpful.
15 Ways to Increase Self-Esteem AND Self-Confidence
1. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Acknowledging your wins will help increase your self-esteem by giving you a tangible list of the ways you have already succeeded.
If you feel like “ugh I haven’t accomplished anything,” I promise that you have. Accomplishments come in many forms big and small, all of them are worth celebrating.
Take some time to write down as many as you can think of. You can absolutely start with small wins like “did my laundry” and “got my cars oil changed” and work your way up to bigger accomplishments.
2. Adopt Daily Affirmations
Your internal dialog is one of the most important influences for your self-esteem and confidence. If you’re always thinking negative thoughts about yourself there is no way you’re going to feel confident. Changing the way you think will change the way you act.
Confident people just go for it right, they don’t sit around wondering if they have the ability to succeed. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the person who at least tries even if I fail, than the person who is too afraid to try at all.
You can change the thoughts you think about yourself by replacing them with positive affirmations. When you catch yourself thinking you’re not good enough for whatever, immediately think “actually I AM good enough, I am worthy, I can do this.”
Check out this list of 100 Empowering Affirmations.
3. Befriend Your Fears
That sneaky voice that makes you doubt yourself and doesn’t want to try new things is your ego, and it’s motivated by fear. Your ego wants to be safe above anything else, it’s literally programmed into our DNA to help our species survive, and it knows that the unknown can be dangerous.
Fear often manifests as self-criticism and self-doubt that will keep you from stepping a toe out of your comfort zone.
Make your ego your friend by acknowledging it and comforting it like a child. When I feel irrationally afraid of something I put my hand on my chest and tell that part of me, “thank you for trying to protect me, I know you’re afraid because you’re uncertain but it’s going to be ok, I am safe.”
4. Practice Gratitude
One way to feel good about yourself is just to feel good about your life, and the best way to do that is by practicing gratitude. When you take the time to appreciate all the good things in your life you are guaranteed to feel better and attract even more good things.
Some of the things I’m grateful for every single day are my health, safety, car, dogs, family, daily walks, the flowers growing outside my neighbors fence that I sometimes pick, etc.
Check out this list of 60 Things to be Grateful For if you need more ideas.
5. Find Lessons in Failures
Change your perspective on things you previously considered to be failures. That big thing that seemed to be a huge mistake might actually have been a valuable lesson that you can use in the future. It might be a relationship, business, job interview, goal, etc.
Look at the situation from a emotionally neutral perspective and see what threads of wisdom you can take from it. What wrong turns can you avoid in the future, what do you need to do more of next time?
When your ego pops up like “hey girl, that was a BIG MISTAKE, better not do it again lets stay here where it’s safe,” remember self-esteem strategy number three and make your fear your friend.
6. Unfollow Social Media Accounts that Make You Insecure
While social media is good in so many ways, it can be a big hit to your self-esteem when you see other peoples lives looking perfect. If certain people or accounts make you feel bad when they pop up on your feed unfollow them.
I used to follow a lot of fitness Instagram accounts but this year I’ve been ruthless about unfollowing anyone that’s really pushing an unrealistic body type. I don’t mean that women can’t be really fit, but if they are posting pictures of themselves flexing in thongs everyday is that really healthy for me to see? Not so much.
Also take a critical look at who is obviously photo shopping their life. If you’re following a Kardashian/Jenner and thinking that’s what they really look like I have a bridge to sell you. I don’t mean that as a criticism of them, because it’s clear they have some very intense self-esteem and body dysmorphia issues, but not only do they pile makeup on and photoshop every single photo, they’ve also gotten multiple surgeries on their faces and bodies.
The image they present is not real. I would not trade places with them for all the money or fame in the world.
If just unfollowing people doesn’t help, take regular breaks from social media all together.
7. Have Realistic Expectations
It’s important to have realistic expectations. That doesn’t mean you can’t hope and strive for the best, but don’t hold yourself or others to an impossibly high standard.
You’re never going to be perfect, other people aren’t going to be perfect, life isn’t going to be perfect.
When you expect to have immediate success you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Plan for failure to be part of the process. Plan to pick yourself up off the floor, and to extend a hand to others when they fail.
Whatever someone else has done, they didn’t do it in a day and you won’t be able to either. Don’t compare yourself to others. There’s no need to feel like you have to live up to some impossible standard of perfection.
8. Practice Being Confident
They say practice makes perfect for a reason. If you want to be good at anything you have to practice, that includes being confident.
If you have a presentation or interview, practice in front of a mirror. If you’re networking write up a 1-2 minute ‘elevator pitch’ about you and your brand and practice it until you have it memorized. If you struggle with small talk, practice by choosing a few general topics to bring up or questions to ask in conversations ahead of time.
Having these things prepared ahead of time will help you feel more confident when you have to deal with the situations.
9. Accept One Imperfection at a Time
Learn to accept yourself just the way you are. People with high self-esteem tend to be positive and realistic about their abilities and shortcomings. They don’t spend a lot of time nitpicking at themselves or beating themselves up for mistakes.
It’s probably impossible to suddenly accept all the things you’ve disliked about yourself in one moment, so choose one thing and start to change the thoughts you have about it.
Maybe you don’t like your stomach or the way you laugh. Every time you notice a critical thought about that thing immediately think “actually there is nothing wrong with my stomach and I love it” or “my laugh is a unique expression of happiness and it’s perfect.”
Write it down on a post-it note and put it on your mirror or make it your phone background. See it, think it, and say it everyday.
If you do this daily you will notice a change in the way you think and feel about it.
This meditation is great for helping you love your body.
Free Self Love Journal Prompts PDF for Subscribers
10. Take Care of Your Health
It probably goes without saying but treating your body right helps with your overall well-being, including your mental health, and that can contribute to your self-esteem.
This doesn’t mean you need to look a certain way or fight into a particular pants size, just that you should feel good physically and mentally.
Get 8 hours of sleep, eat mostly healthy foods, move your body for at least 30 minutes a day, care for your skin, practice self-care, and look after your mental health.
11. Challenge Yourself
Many of us are creatures of habit and like to have the same routines. If you’re an introvert like me, putting yourself “out there” and trying new things is even harder. Leaving your comfort zone is hard, but challenging yourself is a part of improving your self-esteem.
Remember number one on this list is acknowledging your accomplishments. Challenging yourself improves self-esteem because it gives you new wins to add to that list. It lets you exercise your strengths and gives you new skills for your life toolbox.
Your ego is going to chime in with reasons you should stay in your comfort zone where it’s safe and risk free. Talk to that part of yourself and reassure it that everything is going to be ok and that you are safe.
12. Have Supportive Friends
You’ve probably heard that you are the 5 people you spend the most time with. Make sure your closest relationships are with people who share your values and are supportive of you.
If someone is always complaining, always criticizing, taking but never giving back, etc it’s time to cut them out of your life or minimize the time you spend with them.
There are times where it’s almost impossible to cut someone out if they’re a coworker or family member. In that case, when they start to complain tell them “I’d rather talk about positive things,” or ask them “what are some good things that are happening in your life?” When they criticize someone instead of joining in say “I’m sure (name) is doing the best they can, and they have plenty of good qualities like ____.” Gently redirect their negativity the best you can and if that doesn’t work leave the room when they start their rants.
It’s ok to distance yourself from negative family members, I’ve done so and am much happier without them in my lives.
Also make sure you are being positive and supportive too if you aren’t already.
13. Change Old Stories
We all have stories that we’ve learned from others or made up about ourselves that impact our self-image.
Maybe a parent or teacher told you that you stupid, lazy, and would amount to nothing. Maybe kids at school told you you were fat and ugly. Maybe you put a lot of pressure on yourself to be perfect and couldn’t live up to that standard. Maybe your (hopefully EX) boyfriend told you that you’re nothing without him and no one else would love you.
These all become stories we believe and tell ourselves over and over throughout our lives.
The good news is, much like stories about the Easter Bunny, these stories aren’t true. They’re just fiction, and you can close the chapter on that phase of your life and start a new one.
Figure out what those stories are and write new ones.
14. Don’t Worry About What They Think
“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
When I heard the above quote I had a bit of an “ah ha” moment. In the past I spent a lot of time and energy worrying about what other people thought of me, and then I realized it really doesn’t matter. You can’t control what other people think about you, and chances are they don’t think of you all that much because like most of us they are busy thinking about themselves.
Should another person’s opinion of you matter more than your own opinion of you?
If you really struggle with this ask yourself why do you care what other people think. Do you worry about being judged? Do you need people to like you? Do you fear rejection? Are you linking your self-worth to other people loving you? Do you feel like you need to “fit in” with a group?
Drill down on your reasons and start to change those beliefs.
15. Turn Envy into Appreciation
When you have a lack or scarcity mindset you might find yourself frequently feeling envy when you see someone who has something you don’t, even if you don’t truly want that thing.
There will always be people who have “more” than you no matter how wealthy or successful you become. Don’t waste energy feeling bitter cause it’s not going to get you those things.
When you catch yourself feeling this way try thinking “you know what, I’m really happy that they have ____, I bet they’ve worked really hard for it and if I put in the work I can have that too.”
Feel happy for people when they’re successful. Life is challenging in so many ways, celebrate when you see someone win.
I truly believe that when you have a good attitude you will attract good things back to you.
Those are my tried and true ways to skyrocket your self-esteem. If you put in the time and effort you will see amazing results in your self-worth, self-confidence, and overall happiness.