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How to Build Self-Esteem

stock-photo-love-yourself-self-esteem-concept-isolated-text-in-vintage-letterpress-wood-type-102956873Most people feel bad about themselves from time to time. Low self esteem may be triggered by your own judgements or by the judgements of others. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying your life and working towards goals. Everyone has the right to feel good about themselves, but it could be difficult when you are dealing with a disability, have pressure at work, have a difficult time getting along with someone you care about, or when someone insults you. You begin to use negative self talk such as “I am no good,” or “I’ll never succeed,” or “nobody likes me.” You begin to believe these statements if you continue to use negative self talk. You may also do hurtful things to yourself or to others.

Below is a list of ways that may help you to build your self-esteem and help you to feel better about yourself. You may notice however that you may build a resistance to feeling better about yourself. This is normal and it shouldn’t stop you from feeling good about yourself either. With time, these feelings will hopefully diminish.

What can you do to raise your self-esteem?

1)Talk to yourself: Give yourself a pep talk and create positive affirmations. Tell yourself  that you are beautiful, smart, intelligent, etc. Give yourself strong, positive statements asserting something true and desirable about yourself. If you put yourself down constantly, make yourself aware of your own dialogue, replace the negative thoughts with something positive and reinforce the positive thoughts with affirmations and actions. When practicing using affirmations it will empower you to make changes in your life.

2)Take care of yourself: If you take good care of ourself, you will begin to feel good about yourself.

  • Eat healthy foods and avoid junk foods. You will begin to feel better and energized if you eat healthier.
  • Exercise can help you to feel better about yourself and energized. Arrange a time where you can get exercise. You can go for a walk, run, ride your bike, play a sport, listen to music and dance. Do something that feels good to you. If you have a health problem that may restrict you from doing exercise, talk to your doctor. Maybe your doctor can give you some advise on activities that you can do instead.

3) Draw from Success: Look at past successes. Think about a situation where you have triumphed over challenges to achieve something great. Give yourself credit and tell yourself “If I could accomplish and overcome that, I can certainly accomplish and overcome this.” Apply the strengths you used in the past to accomplish a goal to your current goal. By identifying the past success, can help you overcome obstacles.

4) Do things you enjoy: Make a list of things you enjoy doing and do something from that list everyday. Such as playing your guitar, drawing a picture, reading a book, going for a walk to the park, etc.

5) Spend time with people who are positive and treat you well. Stir away from negative people who always put you down.

6)Make your living space a place that shows your personality: Whether you live in an apartment, house, small space or large space, make that space comfortable and appealing to you. If you share a space with someone, have a space just for you where you can decorate it any way you like.

7)Make it small: As I mentioned in my previous post 10 Steps to Help Beat Procrastination, set small goals so you can see your success. By accomplishing small goals, you will feel more successful and confident.

8)Prepare for Setbacks: If you were unable to accomplish a goal, try again by using different methods from the ones that you originally laid out. There will be roadblocks. Think about a plan to overcome the problem in advance.

9)Learn something new or improve your skills: By learning something new can help you to feel empowered. Surround yourself with information. Learn what works for you. Educating yourself teaches you to take command, gives you power and belief that you can make changes.

10)Treat yourself well everyday: Write down what you did throughout the day on how you treated yourself such as “I took care of myself today by going to the gym for an hour” or “I took care of myself today by eating a healthy meal,” etc.

11) Don’t compare yourself to others: Comparing your life to another person’s life and finding out that they excel in one area of life can hurt your self-esteem. You should try being better than you were yesterday instead of focusing on the success of others.

12) Forgive yourself: We all make mistakes. That is part of being human. If we didn’t make mistakes we wouldn’t learn from them. View your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Forgiving yourself can help you raise your esteem instead of indulging in self- pity which can hurt your esteem.

13) Accept yourself: You have to realize that there are things about yourself that you can change and things you cannot change. The things you are unhappy about, try working on them. But there are things however that you cannot change such as your height, your past choices, complexion. Start accepting them and start loving yourself the way you are.

14) Change negative thoughts into positive thoughts: What you tell yourself is very important. Your mind believes what it hears. If you constantly belittle yourself, you will eventually believe it. Be aware of what you tell yourself everyday. Write those thoughts down and try to challenge your thinking. For example, if you tell yourself “I never do anything right” write that down and ask yourself the following questions:

Is this really true?

What do I get by thinking this thought?

Is it true that I never do anything right?

The next step is to come up with positive statements, or challenge your thoughts. Replace the negative thoughts with a positive thought. Repeat your positive thoughts over and over again and write it over and over again and put the positive statements in places where you can see them. For the statement mentioned above “I never do anything right” you may tell yourself “I have done a lot of things right such as….” or “ I am a fallible human being where making mistakes is part of being human” or “I do many things right.” Avoid using negative words such as not, never, can’t. Instead focus on the positives and use the present tense such as “I am healthy,” I have a good job,” or “I am happy.”

Changing your negative thoughts into positive thoughts takes time, patience and effort. You need to create a new habit for yourself which is to think positively. By thinking negatively you create a habit of thinking negatively. Make changes and don’t give up. You deserve to think good thoughts about yourself.

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How to Build Self-Esteem

Helen Nieves

Helen Nieves is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Attention Deficit Consultant Specialist. She teaches ADHD on line and is on the Advisory Board at The American Institute of Health Care Professionals. She also received advanced training in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and in Grief Counseling.

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APA Reference
Nieves, H. (2015). How to Build Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Apr 2015
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