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5 Easy Ways to Improve Self-Esteem


Do you struggle with negative self-talk? Do you compare yourself to others and reprimand yourself for not measuring up to what you think you see? Do you believe that you are inherently worse than others? If so, you may struggle with poor self-esteem.

Self-esteem is defined as: a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities. I’m not talking about an inflated self-esteem, narcissism, or self-centeredness. Self-esteem is about knowing who and what you are, and respecting it. In other words, you may be horrible at sports, but acknowledge this and be okay with it. Not being able to hit a baseball on a string doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person or that you’re bad at everything. It simply means you can’t hit a baseball on a string.

Having a healthy self-esteem is important to having a happy, fulfilling life. When you are able to feel good about your abilities and not dwell on your weaknesses, you can flourish wherever you are.

What are some ways to improve your self-esteem? Here are 5 things to try.

  1. Understand your weaknesses.  Being able to identify your weaknesses is not something you should only think about before a job interview. By identifying and understanding the situations you struggle with or the personality traits you are not happy about, you do two things. Your realistic view allows you to be real with yourself and others, and if you choose to, gives you a framework to improve things. If you can’t identify what you struggle with you can’t make yourself stronger. I simply cannot keep a garden growing during an Ohio summer. I’m great until the heat and humidity strikes, then my neat little plot looks like a thistle jungle. I’ve decided this is not something I need to change, but I do keep my goals for gardening in check. As in, I am growing a tomato plant in a pot this year.
  2. Understand your strengths. Think about what you’re good at and what you like about yourself. It doesn’t have to be things that everyone else likes. My husband prides himself on his great sense of humor, which consists mainly of lame dad jokes. And while I cringe on the inside when he starts one, it makes him happy, and little kids get a kick out of it.
  3. Don’t try and please everyone. This ties in to number two above. People with poor self-esteem often try to make themselves into who they are not so they feel like they are valued and belong. You will never, NEVER be liked by everyone. So don’t waste your precious energy trying. Find people who you truly connect with and who like you for you. Which leads directly into number four.
  4. Surround yourself with people who value you. You can’t choose your family, but you certainly can choose to surround yourself with others who accept and love you for who you are, warts and all. This doesn’t mean you have to surround yourself with people who share your tastes. But if your stay-at-home mom friends chastise you for working outside the home, you may want to rethink your social group.
  5. Replace negative self-talk with positive, more realistic self-talk. We all have times when we’re hard on ourselves. Walking around with your fly undone for hours is embarrassing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re an idiot and people are laughing at you. Instead of calling yourself a moron who can’t dress herself, laugh and learn from your mistake. Congratulations, you’re human.

As a parent, I remind my kids not to call each other names. I want them to be kind and understanding with one another. I want them to treat each other with respect. So why shouldn’t I do the same for myself?

All of us should treat ourselves in the way we want others to treat us: No name calling, even if it’s in your head. Assume the best. Forgive mistakes. Encourage constantly. Love unconditionally.

Above all, be kind to yourself. You’ll be so much happier for it.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. She's now offering online counseling for residents of Ohio. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2015). 5 Easy Ways to Improve Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 May 2015
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