Whether you’re struggling socially, on the job, or in school, you might be wondering, “How do I raise my self-esteem?” Don’t worry — you aren’t alone. It’s a pretty common question, no matter your overall mental health. Fortunately, there are tried-and-true methods for raising your self-esteem and improving your overall mental health. Check out these tips and tricks for confidence building in your day-to-day life.
Self-Esteem and Confidence Building
Self-esteem — the general feeling you have about yourself and your abilities — is something that people of all ages, including teens, grapple with. After all, we spend a lot of time thinking about our strengths, limitations, and image. If you have high self-esteem, you’ll generally feel both confident and worthy of receiving respect. However, if your self-esteem is low, you’ll likely have little trust in your abilities and feel unworthy of other people’s respect.
Your perception of yourself is impacted by many factors, from your age to the things you experience on any given day. Research indicates that average levels of self-esteem generally increase across the lifespan from youth, peaking at around age 60 and then slightly declining in older age. Despite this, most individuals will experience low self-esteem at one time or another. Sometimes, you may not realize something’s impacting your sense of self-worth until you take a step back. For instance, if you’re insecure about not achieving your goals by a certain age, you might feel low when you realize that you’re not where you hoped to be by the arbitrary benchmark you set for yourself.
How to Raise My Self Esteem (Confidence Building)
Improving your self-esteem is essential; it will improve other aspects of your life. This includes the quality of your social relationships, which in turn can help to boost your self-esteem – it’s all connected! For example, your motivation, decision-making skills, and success perception are tied to self-esteem. Generally, the higher your self-esteem, the more productive and successful you are — and, more importantly, you feel that sense of accomplishment more. Need some help getting started? Try these tips out for confidence building:
Identify Your Triggers
A trigger is something that causes feelings of low self-esteem. Maybe a person activates this low feeling, or maybe there’s a particular memory or social media post you get stuck on, causing you to belittle yourself.
Think back to times when your confidence was at its lowest. What was the underlying cause? For most people, even the most mundane things can trigger feelings of low self-esteem. For instance, hitches in romantic relationships or tension with your family can take such a toll on you that you feel down. If possible, avoid those situations, such as a relationship doing you more harm than good. However, avoidance isn’t always the best measure and sometimes isn’t possible. Coping skills, such as speaking with someone you trust or doing relaxation exercises, are must-haves in your mental health toolkit as they can help you manage your response to triggers.
Let Self-Love Be Your Foundation
While the internet might lead you to believe that self-love is no more than a motivational poster, in its purest (and non-commodified) form, self-love is one of the strongest pillars of self-esteem. Self-love is a feeling of self-appreciation that comes from doing the things that make you happy. It’s about claiming happiness by looking out for yourself and ensuring that your needs come first.
Remember: self-love doesn’t mean you don’t care for others. It’s all about balance. You can support others while being there for yourself and without sacrificing your needs. Self-love involves listening to yourself, trusting yourself, and ultimately making yourself happy. Prioritize yourself when making plans, knowing you’re worthy and enough.
Go Big on Self-Care
Self-care is how we express self-love. Again, the internet might paint a narrow picture of this, but it’s not all toxic positivity. In fact, researchers have identified six life domains that may require attention when practicing self-care; these include your:
- Spiritual life
Self-care is the healthy habit we implement in our lives to ensure we’ve got a solid foundation for each of these domains. Practices such as healthy eating, sleeping well, relaxing, and reflecting significantly increase your feelings of self-worth. Endless things can make you feel worthy: a spa day, going for a run, having that scone for breakfast, and visiting the dentist. When you care for your physical, emotional, and mental health, you start to feel deserving of that care. In turn, this helps with your self-esteem.
Extend Kindness to Yourself
We always give others the benefit of the doubt, but it’s time we were kind to ourselves, too. Your thoughts shape your self-esteem, so the next time you think of yourself as a failure, a fraud, or not “good enough,” you may want to cut yourself some slack.
The rule of thumb? Ask yourself if you’d be this hard on someone else. If the answer is “no,” then don’t be so self-critical. After all, your mistakes don’t define you. Give yourself a second (third or fourth) chance. This will go a long way in uplifting you.
Create a Robust Support Network
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need a robust support network. Surrounding yourself with people who uplift you can be immensely helpful when you start to feel low. Your network could be composed of your friends at school, family members, colleagues at work, or folks in a support group. An ideal situation is having a network of many people who can offer various lived experiences and thoughts.
Stand Your Ground
When your self-esteem is low, being assertive is difficult. Still, taking those first steps to put your foot down or being vocal about what you believe can be a life-altering experience. Besides, pulling off the figurative bandage is often the most challenging part.
If you have trouble standing your ground, try small steps at first. Maybe a friend invites you to do something, but you would rather stay home. Say “no” to your friend, knowing that your “no” won’t cause a huge rift if you tell your friend what you really need and stick to it. Such small successes go a long way in encouraging you to be assertive in other contexts.
Seek Professional Help & Support
Studies show strong links between physical and psychological health, so asking for help when you need it is important for several reasons. There are many barriers to therapy, including stigma, access to services, past bad experiences, financial barriers, and so on. However, talking to a professional can be life-altering.
Often, having someone else to work through problems with or to reassure you can make the process of raising your self-esteem more manageable than if you try to go it alone. Plus, a licensed psychologist or counselor can teach you effective strategies for managing your self-esteem. Today, there are many ways to connect with a therapist — often, you don’t even have to leave your home. Whether you’re seeking a group or a private session, there’s no shame in asking for the help you need.
Remember, improving your self-esteem and confidence building can positively impact many areas of your life and your perception of your self-worth and success. Whether you are going through a temporary or longer-term dip in your self-esteem, it’s worth making the time and space to improve it.
- “Development of Self-Esteem From Age 4 to 94 Years: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies” via American Psychological Association
- Self-esteem check via Mayo Clinic
- “The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies” via APA PsychNet
- “Life-span development of self-esteem and its effects on important life outcomes” via APA PsychNet
- How to cope with triggers via Sutter Health.
- “Coping Resources, Coping Processes, and Mental Health” via Annual Reviews
- “What is self-love” via Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
- “The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis” via Social Science & Medicine.