Improving Self-Esteem: How Is It Possible?

January 9, 2020
The way you communicate with yourself is a key factor in improving your self-esteem. Being too harsh on yourself will only weaken your self-concept and self-love. Is improving self-esteem possible?

Improving self-esteem is a goal we could all adopt as our own. As we grow, we build our identity and strengthen our self-concept. This process of self-knowledge and personal growth is indispensable in order to interact with the world around us and ourselves in a healthier way.

Self-esteem is deeply related to self-concept. On one hand, self-concept refers to people’s beliefs about themselves. On the other, self-esteem would be the emotional echo of self-concept: how we feel toward the image we have of ourselves. Thus, self-concept and self-esteem are associated to the point where they feed each other in some way.

What happens when self-esteem and self-concept are so low that they impact our lives? Specifically, is improving self-esteem possible? If so, how can you do it? Below, we give you some useful tips.

Improving self-esteem through self-care

The way you take care of yourself is a consequence of your self-esteem. Then again, deciding to take care of yourself or not depends on your self-esteem. Let’s put it from an outside perspective. Taking care of others can make them feel better. Well, the same thing goes for yourself. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget to put yourself first. However, that’s the number one component of self-love.

That being said, you can begin improving self-esteem by making more realistic judgments about your achievements or about your real responsibility for certain errors or unachieved goals. It’s also important to ask yourself what you really want and need. Take some time for yourself and try to find the answer to these questions.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

-Lucille Ball-

Identify your strengths

Improving self-esteem is only possible if you rely on your strengths. Every single person has a list of strengths they can enhance even more if they give themselves the chance. It’s your turn to do that for yourself and not waste your potential.

If you’re stuck on an “I have no strengths” mentality, take a look at your past achievements. Don’t deny your strong suits because you probably have tons. Do some introspection and think about the things you love doing. Look for honest answers. Otherwise, this tip won’t be of any help.

A woman holding a red heart.

Change your internal dialogue

The way you communicate with yourself is a key factor in improving self-esteem. If your internal dialogue is based on constant negative criticism, self-censorship, or punishment, your self-esteem will be one of the first to pay the consequences.

Think about it for a second. If you spend your time criticizing someone and telling them things such as “You can’t”, “You’re worthless”, or “You’re good for nothing”, how are they going to feel? Do you think they’d like it? The answer is no. Why would you tell yourself these things, then?

In some ways, this internal dialogue is irrational. Sometimes, we interpret situations in the worst possible way, even when the evidence supporting our conclusion is weak. Given these negative thoughts, it’s important to:

  1. Identify them. Is what you’re telling yourself rational or irrational? Is it helping you become a better person or is it weighing you down?
  2. Implement strategies that undermine their power.

One way to start making changes in internal communication could be through questions such as: “Would I tell this to a friend?” or “Would this encourage them to be better? If the answer is no, it’s time to change the dialogue. Remember to be a friend to yourself. 

A woman hugging herself.

Improving self-esteem is about acceptance and forgiveness

It’s difficult to like every single thing about ourselves, which is why self-acceptance is a long journey. Drowning in guilt can damage your self-esteem big time. By not forgiving and accepting yourself, you’re only feeding self-pity and self-deprecation.

In this sense, Kristin Neff, in her study on self-esteem at the University of Texas, states that if you’re able to treat yourself with more kindness, you could boost your self-esteem in a healthier way.

Therefore, improving self-esteem is possible. However, to do it, you need to forgive yourself by accepting that you’re only human and that making mistakes is part of life. Don’t belittle yourself due to past mistakes. 

Treat yourself with the same love and respect you treat a person you love with. Give yourself support and, most importantly, be understanding of your feelings and thoughts instead of constantly criticizing them. Stop punishing yourself every time you make a mistake.

To conclude, an obstacle to improving self-esteem is setting goals that are too difficult for you to reach. Doing this will only make you frustrated and will feed a negative self-concept.

It’s important to combine different goals in your planner. Having big challenges will help you grow, but it’s also essential to keep small goals in mind which can make you feel like you’re on the right track.

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.”

-Rupi Kaur-