Self-esteem is all about how we value and see ourselves. Diving deeper, it’s the belief that we are intrinsically worthy of love and respect and that our thoughts, needs, and feelings matter.
The way we feel about ourselves affects most every part of our lives — our ability to build and maintain healthy relationships, our motivation to set and pursue goals, and our overall mood and well-being. When we know and like who we are, we are able to live a more fulfilling life.
Want to get a little insight into how you view yourself and if your self-esteem could use a boost? Just off the top of your head, what words come to mind when you think about yourself? Do more positive traits come up? Things like, smart, kind, funny, etc.? Or more negative or judgmental labels, like lazy, boring, or … well, you get the idea.
If you’re not quite feeling yourself right now, that’s okay! Simply beginning to notice how you view yourself is the first step towards building up your self-esteem. Read on to get more insight into your relationship with yourself so that you can get to a place of believing your own hype. And if you want to go further, tap into our Self-Esteem Booster Collection — full of tips and tools to help you embrace you.
5 signs you could use a boost
- You regularly compare yourself to others. When was the last time you got stuck in the deep pit of compare and despair? Maybe you saw someone crushing it in the same career field as you and started thinking about all the accolades you haven’t received. Or you saw a picture on your feed of a friend living their best life on the beaches of Turks and Caicos while you’re at home in your stained sweats. We’ve all been there, and it can feel pretty terrible. Social media makes it easy to scroll through other’s best and brightest (and most filtered) moments. The temptation to compare ourselves is incredibly hard to resist, so know you’re oh so far from alone on this one.
- You have a tough time asking for what you need. Do you sometimes put your needs on the backburner because the people around you come first? Do you say yes to things you don’t want to or struggle with saying no? When our self-esteem has taken a dip, it’s difficult to advocate for ourselves and to ask for help when we need it. We can quickly fall into the pattern of people-pleasing, operating under the assumption that our needs just don’t matter that much.
- You have trouble making decisions for yourself. What happens when you’re faced with a decision — big or small? Do you doubt your ability to choose anything from a vacation destination to a romantic partner? Second-guessing yourself can create feelings of incompetence and can lead to a need for constant external validation.
- You have negative self-talk. Are you typically more focused on your strengths or your shortcomings? Do you move through your days pumping yourself up or tearing yourself down? Looking at how hard we are on ourselves can be a painful realization, but it’s important information for building greater self-compassion.
- You don’t easily accept compliments. Imagine someone you know comes up to you and effusively tells you that you did a great job? How does that make you feel? Do you get uneasy and maybe even start to deny that the complimentary words are true? When our self-esteem is low, we often meet words of praise with suspicion or denial.
Self-esteem boosters to try right now
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to building, or re-building, our self-esteem, but there are steps you can take right now. Try a few of these and see what works best for you.
- Create healthier social media habits. Getting real about how social media affects us, and making decisions based on that intel, is a good place to start. Begin to notice what’s going on when you feel the urge to scroll through your feed — are you bored, lonely, or looking for validation? And what happens when you take in certain photos, captions, or videos? Do particular accounts lead you to doubt your worth? Start to ask yourself, “Do I really need to follow that fitness model?” or “Can I try muting the person who is constantly posting their exotic trips?” If you’d like to spend less time on apps like Instagram or Facebook, you can set time limits using the Screen Time setting.
- Make a hype list. Bear with us because this one can feel a little embarrassing, but it’s super effective. Take a couple of minutes to reflect on things that are true about you. Are you curious, stylish, patient, a good sister, a thoughtful neighbor, etc.? Now, think of some things you’ve accomplished or overcome during the course of your life. Did you make it through a scary career move? Adjust to living in a new city? Or try a musical instrument? Next, grab some paper and a pen (or tap into the Journal Tool) and make a list of what comes to mind when you ask, “Who am I and what have I accomplished?” Save this list in a safe, private spot and come back to it as often as you need — it can be a way to start your day or you can pull it out anytime you’re not feeling so great.
- Get creative. Spending some time writing a poem, dancing to uplifting music, or making bad art can help us to better express and understand ourselves. Try giving yourself permission to be creative without judging too harshly. When we get out of our comfort zone and create something just for us, it can give us an instant self-esteem boost.
- Get serious about self-care. Sorry to sound like an obnoxious parent, but doing things that are good for you — like making time for movement, getting plenty of rest, eating a nourishing meal, or finding time to connect with the people you love — sends the message that you are worthy of time, attention, and care. If this concept feels overwhelming, start small by thinking of one simple thing you can do to care for yourself this week. Maybe it’s a walk outside or a quick grounding exercise to start your day off right.
- Offer up self-compassion. We typically hold ourselves to impossibly high standards, thinking we need to be everything all at once — be fit, successful, smart, wealthy, kind, hard-working, chill, popular… It’s exhausting. The next time you find yourself coming up short of an expectation, try being a little more gentle. What would you tell a friend who missed a deadline at work or forgot to pack their kid’s favorite snack? You’d probably say, “Hey, cut yourself some slack. You’re juggling a lot and it’s okay.”
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Brené Brown recently gave a talk on the importance of having people around you who protect your flame, as opposed to those who are “candle blower outers.” What she’s getting at is that it’s important to spend time with people who make space for us and celebrate who we are, instead of tearing us down. Begin to notice how you feel around certain people. After you leave a conversation, do you feel drained or diminished? Or do you walk away with your head a little higher, feeling seen, heard, and valued? If possible, make an effort to spend more time with those who help you to feel good about who you are.
Remember that this process takes time, and a therapist can help us begin to notice and challenge our thoughts and overall beliefs that we hold about ourselves. Reach out if you need extra support and try to show a little more kindness to yourself today.
By Katie Nave, Copywriter at Sanvello
Katie is a writer and mental health advocate living in Brooklyn, New York. Her essays have been featured in publications including Newsweek, Elle, Glamour, Business Insider, and Motherly. She has served as a producer for the National Women’s March and worked with organizations like Girls Inc. She is currently the Copywriter at Sanvello and you can follow her on Instagram: @kathryn.e.nave.