Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
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Building self-esteem is the first step towards your happiness and a better life. If you have low confidence or low self-esteem you will find it impossible to be the person you could be and your happiness will be limited.
I have been on the journey from low self esteem and depression to a healthy level of self esteem and more confidence. I have spent years writing about this topic and working with many life coaching clients. This page is written from experience, and will help you transform your life.
Building self esteem can be achieved by learning how to respect and value yourself, your abilities and your past achievements. It involves changing to a positive mindset, knowing and loving yourself more, stopping self criticism and building self confidence.
Improving your level of self esteem is important because low self esteem causes depression, unhappiness, insecurity and low confidence. So, if you suffer from any of these, or if you need more confidence, you should really benefit from what I’m going to tell you here.
The Benefits of Positive Self Esteem
Furthermore, if you have a healthy level of self esteem you can respect yourself and others, improve your relationships and become happier and more satisfied with your life.
Building self esteem is not a selfish goal because you will contribute more to those around you and to society. This contribution will be a positive one. The world really needs your contribution, your unique views and ideas.
Also, inner criticism, that nagging voice of disapproval inside you, is common when you suffer from low self esteem or lack of confidence (as shown in this study by Noordenbos, Aliakbari and Campbell) . This negative self talk may cause you to stumble at every challenge, or give up quickly convincing you it’s impossible. As your self esteem suffers, other’s desires may take preference over yours.
Even worse, as the above study by Noordenbos et al. shows, the effects of low self esteem and inner criticism may help cause eating disorders. There is no doubt that low self esteem and self criticism can therefore be quite dangerous.
Positive self esteem helps to get your priorities and needs in balance. Self care is very important and a lack of self esteem can lead you to neglect your own needs. Again, this can be quite dangerous to physical and mental health.
So, how do you actually improve your self esteem? Let’s now look at real steps you can take to improve it.
16 Tips For Building Self Esteem
Want to increase your self confidence at work, in your daily life and improve your relationships?
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1. Face your fears
– challenges seem scary but your fears are usually exaggerated. Therefore, facing your fears increases your confidence and boosts your esteem.
This is easy to say but how do actually go about overcoming your fears and do what scares you?
Well, there is only one answer to this. I have experienced the difficulty of overcoming extreme shyness and I went through such pain. At university I realised I had to face my fears and overcome this problem instead of running away from it. So I planned how to do this. I broke challenges into smaller goals and monitored my success with each small success in a daily journal. As I progressed, I gained in confidence. First I started a conversation with a stranger. Next I talked to someone I had been nervous around before. Then I slowly built up to the big one, giving a presentation in front of a group of people.
You can do the same and overcome your fears. Don’t hide any longer!
2. Learn from your setbacks
Mistakes, failure or setbacks?
There is a huge world of difference between these terms. As a teacher I know all too well the value of mistakes. They help learning because they reveal what you don’t know or need to improve on. Mistakes can guide you in new directions and remind you that your work is not done.
However, mistakes and failure are negative words. It is easy to become afraid of making errors or failing. In fact, fear of failure is one of our strongest reasons not to try new things. This article in the LA Times discusses how strong this fear is, and gives an interesting perspective on overcoming it.
One necessary step, then, is to think of setbacks rather than failure or mistakes. This way you think of these setbacks as just temporary road blocks on your journey to your end goal. If you keep thinking you’ve failed or made a big mistake you’re more likely to think of giving up, whereas a setback can be overcome and is just a minor delay to your success.
3. Ask for what you want
As the saying goes, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. So ask for it! Have courage, you may be surprised by the answer. If you want more confidence in your life, then act confidently. A confident person just asks, they don’t hesitate.
Now, even the most confident of us do not get everything they ask for. But at least they have expressed their wishes and presented the thought to the person(s) who will decide. They get noticed, even admired for having the courage to ask.
Often, low self esteem stops you from asking directly and you may get overlooked because if you don’t act, another person will. To feel confident, act confidently.
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4. Reflect on your success.
No-one else will! Isn’t everything easier when you take time to encourage yourself? Make a list of your successes and focus on the positive. This can only help you.
5. Don’t give up easily!
Try something else, or are you going to be defeated by one failed attempt? After all, doesn’t everyone fail before they succeed? Maybe all you need is a different approach?
The kind of success and achievement which will boost your confidence often does not come easily. It requires hard work and dedication. If you can keep to the task and stay on track, you can achieve anything! That will bring you true confidence!
Good luck! I wish you happiness and success as you learn how to build your self esteem.
6. Feed your mind with positivity
After I battled with severe depression and low self esteem over many years, I began to feed my mind with positivity and starve it of negativity. I figured that for years my mind had been fed by negativity and that hadn’t worked.
So, I stopped watching the news every day on TV. I started to listen to relaxing and inspiring music, especially New Age Music. I started to read positive quotes each day. I started this website and began to write positive posts myself to help others. I read books that helped me straighten out my thinking. I began meditating. I took a course in Life Coaching and then started teaching in England in Summer.
Funny, as soon as I focused on positive things and left behind the negativity I found myself again and my confidence began to return as I started working, teaching and coaching.
Ditch the negative things on TV and online and embrace the positive. You’ll soon be happy you did!
7. Make a list of your strengths and positive qualities
This action step will improve your self awareness. You are unique and you do have many strengths, even if you feel you don’t. Spend some time to think about what those strengths are. Also consider your weakness. How can you improve these?
This exercise should help you move forward in the right direction. How? Well, your strengths are things you need to use more in your work and personal life. How can you change things so you can use more of your strengths more often?
Your weaknesses do not have to hold you back. What can you do to improve those areas of weakness? Study, practice or just learn to accept the things you cannot change about yourself? Your decisions here can move you forward confidently.
8. Question your self talk
Next time you hear that negative voice within you, don’t accept every criticism it makes. Question it! Ask yourself if the criticism is justified and is it fair? Most of the things you tell yourself are not based on facts, just opinion and they can be wrong! Question your negative self talk.
9. Be grateful
There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how bad things seem. Remind yourself what these are by writing them down or repeating them twice a day. Your family, friends, pets, your home, where you live….anything that you are thankful for, your abilities or hobbies you enjoy. Go ahead and make a list of five things now.
10. Spend more time with positive people
Life is too short and your self esteem is too precious to have it messed with by negative and toxic people. Spend your time with those you love and get on well with, those who support you and encourage rather than those who criticize you.
11. Focus on helping others
Often when we have problems such as low self esteem or lack of confidence, or depression, we focus too much on ourselves and our own problems. Focusing on helping others can really improve your mood and your thinking because you turn your attention outwards. By helping others you feel better inside about how you are contributing to society and the value you have.
Try doing something to help someone else today and I guarantee you’ll feel better. It’s karma at work!
12. Accept yourself
Simply accept the things about yourself you cannot change. Be happy with who you really are. Accepting yourself is about being honest and aware of what and who you are.
So there you are! 12 ways to build your self esteem. Steps you can begin taking right now. Good luck!
If you really want to take advantage of the biggest help I can offer, then go get a copy of my audio A More Confident You with many more easy to apply strategies for building your self esteem so you become unstoppable.
Four More Ideas You May Not Have Considered to Boost Your Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is best described as the level of confidence a person has in their own abilities and worth. Those who have high self-esteem, often find navigating both their personal and professional lives much easier than those who don’t. When you lack confidence in yourself, life is almost lived in constant fear of failure. It can essentially ruin your relationships and stagnate you. At some point, everyone goes through a period in their lives when they need a boost. Knowing how to do it is essentially the challenge. One thing that can give you and your flagging level of self esteem a boost is taking a vacation.
13. Learn About Your Heritage and Gain Confidence
In a diverse world, being able to identify with a culture can help boost confidence. Through learning about where you come from, essentially, you learn more about who you are. Cultural identity provides individuals with a connection to a social environment, religion, values, and beliefs. You, therefore, learn to identify with others who have the same mindsets and background.
Go beyond the family you know and consider investigating your genealogy. To determine your roots, start by looking at recent obituaries where you can find deceased relatives and learn about your past. You can also ask the elders in your family or consider taking a DNA genealogy test which would provide an in-depth look at where your bloodline comes from.
14. Unplug from Social Media and Stop Comparing Yourself
One of the biggest problems with self-esteem in this digitally advanced world is the use of social media. On social media, individuals can be who they want. Naturally, they post stories and share pictures about the things that are going well in their lives. From the outside looking in, it would appear that your peers and others you relate to or know are doing well. This can result in unfair comparisons of yourself and others.
Though entertaining, a channel for communication and business, too much social media use can be damaging to your confidence. Throughout the day, there should be moments where you unplug and disconnect from the digital social world. Allow yourself to live in the “real world” from time to time where you don’t feel the urge to compare. If scrolling through the profile of others really brings about negative emotions about yourself, you might consider ditching social media for several weeks. But what to do if you suspect you might be addicted to social media, and if it is ruining your self esteem?
15. Be Mindful of Books and Movies
Entertaining yourself with a good book or flick is a common pastime. However, the types of things you read and watch can have an impact on your self-esteem. Reading lots of fiction books, for instance, can blur the lines between fiction and reality. Romance novels in which the women are described as perfect in relationships that live happily ever after can create the illusion that you too should be perfect. Similarly, watching movies or television shows in which the leading men or women are gorgeous and perfect in every way can cause you to start over-analyzing your own life.
Though it’s okay to read and watch movies and television, it must be done in moderation. The media both print and visual are designed to entertain and play on the imagination. Therefore, when you consume too much of it, you begin to fantasize about what should be in your own life. Instead read non-fiction novels, inspirational pieces, and watch empowering or realistic movies and television shows which have characters you can relate to and learn from.
If you are truly serious about building your self confidence, then consider buying this special audio download A More Confident You I have developed especially to help you grow your confidence in everyday situations. I once experienced low self-esteem and depression, and so I recorded this audio CD to help you overcome these problems. To get a copy of my Audio A More Confident You click here – invest in yourself today!
16. Boost Your Self Esteem by Travelling Alone
Self-esteem issues are more common than you think. Do not go on believing that there are very few people who go through this, and the ones that do, nobody ever knows about them. In fact, if you are in a room filled with people, about 80% of them have some sort of problem regarding confidence. And the lucky ones that do not, chances are that they have been through something similar but went past it.
Reaching the conclusion that you have self-esteem problems is a huge step in its elimination. After all, you cannot solve an issue if you do not acknowledge it. You need to know what you are up against before thinking of ways how to fix it. It makes sense, right? But did you know that traveling alone can help you with self-esteem issues? To be honest, I had no idea. That was until I took a trip all on my own.
When I told people that I wanted to travel alone, the first thing I was told was that I was crazy. How can I possibly go alone through a few countries? It was a difficult decision, but now, I am glad I took it. People will try to persuade you to give up that idea for safety reasons mostly, while others will say it is not fun on your own. However, no matter what you do, if you feel like this is something you must do, you should do it regardless of what those around tell you. Just get your passport and be on your way.
One of the things that will boost your self-esteem is the decision itself. It is not an easy one, and while others may express their concerns, you will have some of them on your own. Of course, it depends on where you plan on travelling alone, but countries in Europe, for example, are incredibly safe. That is the path I took as well. Coming back to our issue, once you buy that first plane ticket, you will start telling yourself that you can do this. And that is the first thing that will make you feel more confident.
Probably the most significant factor that will boost your self-esteem while travelling alone is having to deal with all kinds of situations and people on your own. There is nobody familiar around to help you, which ultimately compels you to engage in all sorts of social circumstances. It may seem scary at first, and it is, but once you go through that once or twice, and you will, you will feel more and more comfortable. You will feel more confident the next times around.
You will meet a lot of strangers. Some of them will like you, others will not. I know it may sound a bit much, but staying in hostels during your travels may actually help a lot. I am not saying that you should sleep only in hostels, but once or twice should do the trick. Interacting with as many people as possible is one of the best ways to bring up your self-esteem. You will see how strangers perceive you. You may like what you see or not, but you will definitely want to make some changes along the way. After all, nobody is perfect.
Right now, you may be asking yourself what travelling alone has to do with your self-esteem. It seems to have more to do with confidence. That is not entirely inaccurate. It will build your confidence. However, once you are more confident, you will have more respect for yourself, and you will have a better opinion of yourself. That is not insignificant. In my opinion, it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Even so, you should experience caution. Also, do not forget about practical things like visas. Some countries require one. But other than that, the decision is the most difficult to make. Once you have that resolution, you are on a path to better
Your self-esteem is one of those intangible things that is needed to navigate the ups and downs of life. When you feel less than good about yourself, it is time to put yourself first. By learning about your roots, unplugging from social media, and being mindful of the books and movies you watch, you can ultimately learn to identify more closely with yourself and separate the mind from the impossible, yet perfect pictures society creates today, which in turns helps you to value yourself even more.
Travelling is something that increases both your appreciation of other cultures and ways of life, as well as encouraging independence and a sense of freedom. Give yourself a boost through travelling alone.
If you want to improve all aspects of your life and inner well-being, including confidence and the issues we have covered on this page, then listening to new age music can really help and is something I do often.
Beware of Depression!
One consequence of low self-esteem can be the never-ending nightmare of depression, so go check out if you need a diagnosis of depression here.
- Coudevylle, Gernigon and Ginis. 2011. “Self-esteem, self-confidence, anxiety and claimed self-handicapping: A mediational analysis” Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 670-675
- Greta Noordenbos, Navid Aliakbari Rachel Campbell (2014) The Relationship Among Critical Inner Voices, Low Self-Esteem, and Self-Criticism in Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders, 22:4, 337-351, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2014.898983
- Mayo Clinic “Self-esteem: Take Steps to Feel Better about Yourself” Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20045374
- Peg Moline. We’re Far More Afraid of Failure than Ghosts: Here’s How to Stare it Down. Los Angeles Times. Oct. 31, 2015. https://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-scared-20151031-story.html
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.