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What Is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of their own self-worth.

While everyone lacks confidence at some point in their lives, low self-esteem is a continuous feeling of unhappiness with one’s self.

Low self-esteem can be a way of thinking for many people.

If you go through periods of life feeling bad about yourself, it can affect your ability to enjoy everyday life, work towards personal goals and have stable relationships with others.

What can cause low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem can arise when under stress, when you are having a difficult time, or when others are treating you badly.

At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a downward spiral of negative self-talk and lowered self-esteem.

For example, feeling bad about yourself when someone insults you, when you are under a lot of pressure at work, or you are having a difficult time getting along with someone in your family.

This is where negative self-talk, like ‘I’m no good’ begins.

How to improve your self-esteem

As a psychologist, I have had many clients that require help with improving their self-esteem.

As a result, I have created a list of tips and activities to help others.

By using the tips and activities list below you can begin avoiding doing things that trigger low-esteem and identify what can make you feel better about yourself.

Things you can do to help improve your self-esteem

  • Rid yourself of previous negative judgements, for example, teachers or parents who might have called you stupid.
  • Become aware of your positive attributes and reflect on these.
  • Change the way you approach problems or relationships. Make the shift from “I can’t” to “I can”.
  • Reappraise your goals and break them down into attainable sections.
  • Stop to enjoy the success of each goal and appraise yourself positively.
  • Be aware of the things in your life you can control or can change, and this will enhance your feelings of control and self-worth.
  • See problems as opportunities and challenges.
  • Reflect on what you have learned from every challenge or difficult situation.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, see it as an opportunity to have learned something.
  • Associate with people who are confident.

As you begin to use the tips below you may experience some feelings of resistance to positive feelings about yourself.

This is normal.

Don’t let these feelings stop you from feeling good about yourself.

They will diminish as you go on.

To help relieve these feelings, let your friends know what you are going through.

Have a good cry if you need.

Do things to relax.

Keep the following statement in mind – “I am a unique, and valuable person. I deserve to feel good about myself’.

If you feel overwhelmed, there are small changes you make every day that will help improve your self-esteem.

  • Pay attention to your own needs and wants
  • Eat healthy foods and avoid highly processed fast foods
  • Exercise
  • Take time to do things you enjoy
  • Get something done that you have been putting off
  • Do things that make use of your own special talents and abilities
  • Dress in clothes that make you feel good about yourself
  • Give yourself rewards
  • Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
  • Make your living space a place that honours the person you are
  • Display items that you find attractive
  • Make your meals a special time
  • Learn something new or improve your skills
  • Do something nice for another person
  • Make it a point to treat yourself well every day

Changing negative self-talk and low self-esteem is a slow process, but one that is very important!

Everyone has a right to feel good about themselves.

I am a Yarra Ranges psychologist with years of experience in helping patients improve their mental health. My Melbourne psychology practice, Harnessing Wellness, offers room based psychological counselling, therapeutic group programs and equine assisted psychology.

If you are feeling affected by your low self-esteem and need help improving it, please get in touch.