10 Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Updated on December 27, 2017
EB  Black profile image

I had various experiences in life that I think I can use to help. Hopefully my writing will help people with their time management skills.

Working on your self-esteem can drastically change your life.
Working on your self-esteem can drastically change your life.

Negative Talk

If you clicked on this article, you probably have low self-esteem. You may have been insecure all of your life. You have negative thoughts in your head, always telling you that you're wrong or unattractive or not valuable. You may also have people on the outside who insult you on a regular basis or did so in your past. You probably carry those hurtful words with you everywhere and judge yourself using them.

If you're insecure, then there's a lot of negative thoughts happening in your head. People may tell you to change, people may tell you not to be so down or hate yourself so much, but it feels impossible. You might even feel like you're disappointing them because you don't feel better automatically like they want you to. You're used to being so negative about yourself for so long, you don't know how to be positive.

Below is a list of positive actions you can take to improve your self-esteem. Some of them may seem cheesy, some of them may make you roll your eyes, but doing them will probably make you feel better about yourself.

You need a healthy self-esteem to get the things you want in life. People can hand you jobs and give you love, you can have all the things you want offered to you, but without self-esteem, you'll never truly be able to accept any of it. You'll be too scared to do that job or too scared to accept that compliment because you hate yourself too much. You have to believe things are possible and that you deserve them before you can accept them.

Healthy self-esteem comes from within, but it's not just a feeling you can magically acquire. Sometimes you have to take actions on the outside before you can feel confident on the inside, so it's okay if you do these things and feel insecure doing them. That's bound to happen if you struggle with self-image, but if you keep trying these things and give it some time, your self-esteem should improve.

Below is a list of ten things you can do to have better self-esteem.

1. Write a List of Your Best Traits

A good way to change the negative self-talk in your head is to sit down and force yourself to think of a list of positive traits that you possess. This helps you reform all the negative thoughts you have and focus more on the positive.

Try to think of at least ten positive traits you possess. It may feel hard or embarrassing at first to think this way. It may feel wrong to do so because it's hard for you to think up positive traits or you think doing so will make you conceited, but the truth is people with a healthy self-esteem believe positive things about themselves.

It doesn't mean they are in denial about their weaknesses. They are aware of both their weaknesses and strength. You spend all day long thinking about your struggles, why not spend some time thinking of your accomplishments?

Successes lead to more successes, so believing in yourself, believing you are making progress, congratulating yourself mentally will help you do more things. Tearing yourself apart mentally, on the other hand, will make you hide and run away because you don't believe you can handle anything.

This list that you make doesn't have to be written down if you are afraid of someone finding it. Just lay down or sit for awhile and daydream about the list instead.

Doing this many times, especially when you are feeling the most down and depressed, should help you heal. We believe the words we tell ourselves, so you're never going to believe someone else's positive comments unless you first tell them to yourself.

2. Compliment Yourself in the Mirror

Look yourself in the eye. Actually see yourself. It allows you to step outside of yourself for a moment, to analyze that hurt person that hates themselves, to get out of your head so you can give yourself a compliment.

You may also be used to other people insulting you and looking at yourself, seeing someone outside of yourself in the mirror compliment you, can help you feel better about some of the insults you may have received during the day.

There's a reason this is a cliche. Sometimes, all you need to succeed at something is to just look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you can do it.

3. Accept Compliments From Other People

You may hate yourself so much that whenever someone compliments you, you argue with them. Don't do this. It will be hard to resist at first and will make you feel awkward, but arguing with people about compliments is the negative self-talk in your head driving away anything positive anyone wants to say to you.

Instead, try saying, "thank you," when someone compliments you or try complimenting them back. When you argue with compliments, you only believe the negative words you told yourself. You never absorb any of the nice things the other person is trying to say.

It can be the hardest thing in the world to accept affection or something nice from someone else, but you have to do it to feel more positive.

4. Do Something You're Afraid of Doing

When you have low self-esteem, in your head, you're always saying the word "can't." You think you "can't" do this. You think you "can't" do that. You're afraid to risk doing this. You're afraid to risk doing that. What if you fail? What if it doesn't work out?

Failure is a part of life, but so is success. If you don't try, you'll never know if this is going to be one of the times you will succeed.

Facing something you are terrified to do takes a lot of strength and bravery. Even if you don't get the results you wanted to, you should feel proud of yourself for trying and putting yourself out there. I also find that more often than not, when people do this, they actually succeed more than they'd expect.

Encourage yourself. Be your own cheerleader. Think of something you're terrified you can't do and go out and try it. Right now.

5. Stand up for Yourself or Say "No" to Someone

People with low self-esteem usually have issues with boundaries. They're insecure about themselves, so they accept mistreatment from other people in order to earn their love. When you accept people who take advantage of you, you are inviting bad people into your life. People who will do nothing but take from you and insult you.

You may be scared to stand up to them. You may be scared to say "no" because you are scared they will leave you. People who really care about you won't leave when you are upset. People who really appreciate you will want to make things up to you and come up with a compromise so everyone is happy. People who really care about you will have respect for you and will eventually be able to accept it when you get upset with them, even if they are defensive at first.

Also, people can't read your brain. If they do something to hurt your feelings and you don't tell them, then they will never know. This will make even the nicest people appear mean sometimes because you are expecting them to read your brain. You are expecting them to know what you want and know what your limits are without you telling them. Speak up, so they'll know.

It may make you feel shaky and sick to your stomach to do so. I know how this is from experience. This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do and sometimes I would regret it in the moment as I was doing it. But in the end, even if it hurt at first to set limits among the people I cared about, eventually things would get much better. I'd also feel better about myself because I valued myself enough to protect myself.

You can do nice things for other people without being a martyr. You're just a human being. You have limitations like everyone else.

6. Accept Something Nice From Someone

You may feel embarrassed or unworthy when someone offers you a gift or does something nice to you. You may push them away and tell them "no." You might feel like you are unworthy of such a gift or gesture, but healthy people learn to accept these things every once in awhile.

What you might not get is that doing nice things for other people is an act of love. They are doing this act of kindness out of affection for you. They may not know you that well or may know you really well. Either way, they're trying to show they appreciate you and get closer to you.

Rejecting someone else's gift or nice gesture is not only taking something away from yourself, but it is also taking something away from them. You're rejecting them when they're trying to share their love with you. Accepting the gift will not only make you feel better about yourself, like you're more deserving of good things, but it will also likely help them feel good, too.

You probably have it built up in your head that you're not worthy of these things and accepting them is a burden to the other person, but the truth is the opposite. Humans need connections and we connect to each other through giving and taking in a variety of different ways.

7. Open Up to Someone

Your feelings are important. Your thoughts are important. The things you have to say matter.

Not everyone will care about everything you have to say, but opening up to people and trying to find the right people who will accept you opening up to them will make you feel so much better about yourself. It will also allow you to form real connections.

I've struggled with my self-esteem a lot and I've been quiet (and an introvert) a lot of my life. I used to just be people's sidekick in friendships. They'd do all the talking and planning of everything. I'd just go along for the ride, but then I realized most of those "friends" I had only wanted to use me and most of them didn't have much in common with me. Because I never opened up about myself, how could I find people who had things in common with me? No one knew me enough to know I had things in common with them.

It's important to be vulnerable sometimes in life. It can hurt, especially if you've faced a lot of rejection, but it's the only way to form true connections with others. Relationships are a risk, but the reward when you find a good one (be it friendship or romantic) is worth all the trials you've gone through to get to that person.

Opening up is letting yourself say to yourself that you are important. That your feelings and thoughts matter and that if people don't like you the way you are, they don't matter to you. Love yourself enough to form real connections with others, otherwise, you'll live a life where you always feel lonely, even when surrounded by other people.

8. Take Care of Your Appearance

This is a really shallow sounding suggestion and in a lot of ways, it is shallow. All you are doing is working on the outside of your body. Sometimes, when you take a shower or do your hair, you wind up feeling good on the inside as well because you just cared enough about yourself to make yourself look nice. You valued yourself through your actions.

True confidence comes from inside of you, but you can't force it to happen. Sometimes you have to do things to improve yourself on the outside before you can feel it on the inside and that's okay and normal.

9. Do Something Nice for Yourself

Take care of yourself. Is there something you need? Do it or get it! Make yourself a priority.

If you're always putting yourself last, then you're exhausting yourself, making yourself miserable. Eventually, all of that sacrifice is going to be too much and you're going to have a meltdown and do unhealthy things that hurt you.

Taking care of yourself allows you to be a better person. It allows you to help other people more. A firefighter must protect himself from fire (through his gear and oxygen mask) before he can save anyone else. You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself first.

Tell yourself you are valuable. Tell yourself you deserve it and splurge a little if you have to. Believe you are worthy.

10. Count the People Who Care About You

Sometimes, when you are insecure, you forget that there are people who care about you. Your mind is so focused on the people who rejected you either in the past or the present. You wind up not being able to see anyone else, even if they're embracing you and being as nice as they possibly can be because you're ignoring them and completely focused on the people who don't matter.

There's someone who cares about you somewhere. There's someone who would be sad that you died somewhere, be it a friend, a relative, or a lover. There are probably multiple people who would be sad if you disappeared. Don't forget your pets, they'd all be sad without you as well.

Remind yourself of the people who care about you. Remind yourself of the people who look forward to seeing you. If you feel like there's not enough people like that, then go out and make more friends. Join a club or group, do an activity. You won't make friends instantly and you shouldn't expect it, but slowly people will open up to you and you will find more friends.

Believe in the people who care about you. Believe in their positive words. They are the ones who matter, not the ones who rejected you, especially if those rejections are long in the past.

Questions & Answers


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      • denise.w.anderson profile image

        Denise W Anderson 

        2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

        These are awesome pointers for building your feelings of self-worth! I used to be very critical of myself, to the point that I hated myself and felt worthless. I didn't realize that I was blocking out the love others were trying to give me. When I starting smiling at myself when I looked in the mirror, things changed and I stopped shutting others out, and allowed them to get to know me. Life has been much better!

      • jodyshop profile image

        Waleed Barakat 

        2 years ago from Cairo

        Thanks Rebecca for sharing all this great info, i just passed by and found it's very informative and helpful.

      • EB  Black profile imageAUTHOR

        EB Black 

        2 years ago from U.S.A.

        Rebecca: I agree. It is very difficult to have any positive self-esteem in such a harsh world as what we live in.

      • RGraf profile image

        Rebecca Graf 

        2 years ago from Wisconsin

        I have suffered from low self-esteem my entire life. it is hard to do this with negativity all around you. You have to really want to improve and fight for it. Very hard.


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