Three Steps to Better Self-Esteem
Before you can begin to
improve your self-esteem you must first believe that you can
change it. Change doesn't necessarily happen quickly or
easily, but it can happen. You are not powerless! Once you
have accepted, or are at least willing to entertain the
possibility that you are not powerless, there are three
steps you can take to begin to change your self-esteem:
Step 1: Rebut the Inner
Step 2: Practice
Step 3: Get Help from
Step 1: Rebut the Inner Critic
The first important step in
improving self-esteem is to begin to challenge the negative
messages of the critical inner voice. Here are some typical
examples of the inner critic's voice and how you can "rebut"
Inner Critic's Voice:
"People said they liked my presentation, but it
was nowhere near as good as it should have been.
I can't believe no-one noticed all the places I
messed up. I'm such an impostor."
"Wow, they really liked it! Maybe it wasn't
perfect, but I worked hard on that presentation
and did a good job. I'm proud of myself. This
was a great success."
"I got an F on the test. I don't understand
anything in this class. I'm such an idiot. Who
am I fooling? I shouldn't be taking this class.
I'm stupid and I don't belong in college."
"I did poorly on this one test, but I've done
O.K. on all the homework. There are some things
here that I don't understand as well as I
thought I did, but I can do the material-I've
done fine in other classes that were just as
Makes Leaps of
"He is frowning. He didn't say anything, but I
know it means that he doesn't like me!"
"O.K., he's frowning, but I don't know why. It
could have nothing to do with me. Maybe I should
"She turned me down for a date! I'm so
embarrassed and humiliated. No one likes or
cares about me. I'll never find a girlfriend.
I'll always be alone."
"Ouch! That hurt. Well, she doesn't want to go
out with me. That doesn't mean no one does. I
know I'm an attractive and nice person. I'll
Step 2: Practice Self-Nurturing
Rebutting your critical
inner voice is an important first step, but it is not
enough. Since our self-esteem is in part due to how others
have treated us in the past, the second step to more healthy
self-esteem is to begin to treat yourself as a worthwhile
Start to challenge past
negative experiences or messages by nurturing and caring for
yourself in ways that show that you are valuable, competent,
deserving and lovable. There are several components to
Practice Basic Self-Care
Get enough sleep, eat in a
healthy fashion, get regular exercise, practice good
hygiene, and so forth.
Plan Fun & Relaxing
Things For Yourself
You could go to a movie,
take a nap, get a massage, plant a garden, buy a pet, learn
to meditate-whatever you enjoy.
Reward Yourself For Your
You could take the night off
to celebrate good grades, spend time with a friend, or
compliment yourself for making that hard phone call.
Remind Yourself of Your
Strengths & Achievements
One way is to make a list of
things you like about yourself. Or keep a 'success' file of
awards, certificates and positive letters or citations. Keep
momentos of accomplishments you are proud of where you can
Forgive Yourself When You
Don't Do All You'd Hoped
Self-nurturing can be
surprisingly hard if you are not used to doing it. Don't be
critical of yourself-remember that inner voice!-when you
don't do it just right.
Self-Nurture Even When
You Don't Feel You Deserve It
"Fake it" until you can
"make it." When you treat yourself like you deserve to feel
good and be nurtured, slowly you'll come to believe it.
Step 3: Get Help from Others
Getting help from others is
often the most important step a person can take to improve
his or her self-esteem, but it can also be the most
difficult. People with low self-esteem often don't ask for
help because they feel they don't deserve it. But since low
self-esteem is often caused by how other people treated you
in the past, you may need the help of other people in the
present to challenge the critical messages that come from
negative past experiences. Here are some ways to get help
Ask for Support from
Ask friends to tell you
what they like about you or think you do well.
Ask someone who cares
about you to just listen to you "vent" for a little
while without trying to "fix" things.
Ask for a hug.
Ask someone who loves
you to remind you that they do.
Get Help from Teachers &
Go to professors or
advisors or tutors to ask for help in classes if this is
a problem for you. Remember: They are there to
help you learn!
If you lack
self-confidence in certain areas, take classes or try
out new activities to increase your sense of competence
(for example, take a math class, join a dance club, take
swimming lessons, etc.)
Talk to a Therapist or
Sometimes low self-esteem
can feel so painful or difficult to overcome that the
professional help of a therapist or counselor is needed.
Talking to a counselor is a
good way to learn more about your self-esteem issues and
begin to improve your self-esteem.