Having low self-esteem can leave us feeling paralysed and stop us doing the things we enjoy. In this post I talk about 7 ways to help with low self-esteem to get you unstuck.
What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem can be a consequence of different life experiences. There may have been family or friends who said things which were hurtful or made you feel inadequate. Perhaps it was the way that people treated you which led you to develop core beliefs about yourself which aren’t true (e.g., “I’m not good enough”).
Negative core beliefs, such as the one above, can impact on our relationships with other people and also ourselves. If you believe you’re not “good enough” this might stop you applying for certain jobs, going for a promotion, or developing friendships and/or intimate relationships.
This creates a vicious cycle whereby your core belief stops you from doing certain things, which then feeds your belief that you’re incapable of doing those things. The difficulty is that the more we avoid doing things the more powerful the belief becomes.
7 ways to help with low self-esteem
Here are seven strategies you can use to help with low self-esteem. You may find that some work better than others, which is fine. Stick with the ones that work!
1. Make a list of your personal attributes
Write down a list of 10 personal qualities and things you’re good at – if you can think of more then great! Perhaps you’re kind and give your time to help others. You might be good at creative activities such as poetry or painting. We’re very good at focusing on the things we don’t do well, but rarely take the time to think about the positive things we do.
2. Challenge your unhelpful beliefs
Just because you believe something, that doesn’t make it true. The same goes for your core beliefs.
Think about where these might come from. When you hear the belief in your head, whose voice is it? Have you had something similar said to you in the past? Did you have a specific experience that led you to develop this belief?
There’s a number of unhelpful thinking habits which are influenced by our core beliefs. You can read more about them here, together with how to tackle them.
3. Be more compassionate towards yourself
No one is perfect. And, what is ‘perfect’ anyway? It’s a concept which no one can really define! No one gets everything right 100% of the time – that’s normal and it’s called ‘being human’.
If you make a mistake then aim to be kinder to yourself. The more you beat yourself up the worse you’ll feel, and you’ll likely become more stuck in a cycle of negative thinking. Instead, acknowledge the mistake, look for the learning in the situation, and think about what you could do differently next time.
4. Learn to say “no”
You might be wondering what this has to do with low self-esteem. Often, when we don’t value ourselves as much as we could we tend to say “yes” to everything that’s asked of us, even if this disadvantages us in some way. Learning to say “no” and not becoming overloaded is a great way to show self-worth and to value our wellbeing.
5. Surround yourself with supportive people
We’ve all probably known someone at some time in our lives who reinforces our low self-esteem. Instead of supporting us they reinforce how awful a situation/person must be, leaving us no further forward. It might be that they’re not aware they’re doing this, in which case it may be helpful to speak to them about it.
When we’re feeling low about ourselves it’s important to have people who are in “our corner”, who can motivate us to keep going. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll pander to us and agree with everything we say. Some of the best people we can have in our lives are the ones who will “tell it like it is” and give us a cold dose of reality!
6. Move through the fear
Sometimes, one of the best ways of tackling low self-esteem is to do the things we’re anxious about despite feeling the anxiety. For example, perhaps you have an important presentation to do at work, or a difficult conversation to have with a loved one.
It’s natural for these things to evoke anxiety. However, avoiding them usually only serves to increase the anxiety. Acknowledging the anxiety and still doing the presentation/having the difficult conversation can have a huge impact on your sense of achievement and self-esteem.
7. Seek support from a qualified professional
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’ve gone to friends and family for guidance only to be let in more of a spin! They usually mean well, but because they’re closely connected to us they sometimes miss the mark when it comes to hearing what we’re trying to tell them.
Often, speaking to someone who is impartial can be helpful when it comes to low self-esteem, or any other concern that’s troubling you.
I hope this list has been helpful. Let me know if you have your own strategies for helping with your self-esteem.
Welcome! I’m a Psychologist and fitness enthusiast. My passion is supporting people with their health and wellbeing, and inspiring them to pursue the things they love doing. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to collaborate!