Raising Self-Esteem

Self-esteem, the personal perception of one’s own value and self-worth, plays a pivotal role in shaping our lives. It influences how we navigate challenges, interact with others, and make decisions. Striking a balance between low self-esteem and fostering a healthy sense of self can significantly impact our overall well-being. Individuals grappling with low self-esteem often find themselves hindered by doubts and negative self-perceptions, affecting their happiness and achievements. Conversely, cultivating healthy self-esteem empowers us to face life with confidence and resilience, opening doors to opportunities and fulfilling existence. Therefore, recognising and nurturing our self-esteem is essential for a balanced and rewarding life.

Understanding Self-Esteem

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is fundamentally about how much we appreciate and like ourselves, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It comprises our beliefs about our worth, capabilities, and emotions towards ourselves. At its core, self-esteem influences every aspect of our existence, from how we operate in our personal and professional lives to how we interact with others and face new challenges.

The distinction between healthy and low self-esteem is critical. Healthy self-esteem is characterised by a realistic and appreciative view of oneself, acknowledging strengths and accepting weaknesses. It fosters resilience, allowing individuals to navigate life positively and confidently. On the other hand, low self-esteem is often marked by persistent self-doubt and criticism, leading to a reluctance to try new things or express one’s opinion due to fear of failure or judgment. Boosting one’s self-esteem involves transitioning from a state of perpetual self-criticism to one where feeling good about yourself becomes a natural state of being.

Factors Influencing Self-Esteem

Many factors can significantly develop one’s self-esteem, shaping how individuals perceive and value themselves. Understanding these can be key to developing your self-esteem:

Childhood Experiences and Upbringing: The environment we grow up in profoundly impacts our self-esteem. Positive reinforcement, support, and love from family members help build a strong foundation for self-worth. Conversely, criticism, neglect, or unrealistic expectations can lead to doubts about our values and capabilities.
Peer and Societal Influences: Our interactions with peers and the societal standards we’re exposed to can significantly affect our self-esteem. Being accepted and valued by peers reinforces positive self-regard, whereas experiences of bullying or social exclusion can diminish it. Furthermore, constant exposure to societal ideals about success, beauty, or behaviour can create feelings of inadequacy if we perceive ourselves as falling short.
Personal Achievements and Failures: Achievements, whether in academic, professional, or personal arenas, can bolster our self-esteem by affirming our capabilities and worth. Conversely, encountering failures and setbacks can challenge our self-view, mainly if we harshly judge ourselves for these experiences. Realising that failures are opportunities for growth rather than reflections of our worth is crucial in maintaining healthy self-esteem.

Recognising Low Self-Esteem

Common Signs

Identifying low self-esteem is the first step towards feeling better about yourself. Here are some common signs that may indicate struggles with self-esteem:

Negative Self-Talk and Self-Criticism: A telltale sign of low self-esteem is a harsh inner critic. Individuals may constantly belittle their own achievements and qualities, focusing solely on their perceived flaws and mistakes. This internal dialogue reinforces a negative self-image and can be a significant barrier to improving self-esteem.
Avoidance of Challenges and Opportunities: Due to fear of failure or judgment, someone with low self-esteem might shy away from new challenges or opportunities. This avoidance prevents personal growth and the development of a more robust self-concept, as it reinforces the belief in one’s own inadequacy.
Difficulty in Accepting Compliments: People with low self-esteem often struggle to accept compliments graciously. They may dismiss or doubt the sincerity of positive feedback, viewing it through scepticism, further entrenching negative self-perceptions.

Recognising these signs in oneself or others can be crucial to addressing and improving self-esteem. Acknowledging the issue is the first step to feeling better about yourself, paving the way for strategies to foster a healthier self-view.


Reflecting on your self-esteem levels is a crucial step in understanding where you stand and identifying areas for improvement. Here’s how to conduct a self-assessment:

Reflecting on Personal Self-Esteem Levels: Consider how you typically respond to challenges, criticism, and compliments. Do you find yourself doubting your abilities or feeling unworthy of praise? Reflecting on these reactions can provide insight into your self-esteem levels. Journaling your thoughts and feelings can be a helpful tool in this process, allowing you to notice patterns in your self-perception over time.
Identifying Specific Areas for Improvement: After generalising your self-esteem, pinpoint specific areas that need attention. For example, if you notice a pattern of negative self-talk, this could be a key area for improvement. Similarly, if avoiding challenges is a common theme, consider focusing on strategies that encourage stepping out of your comfort zone.

Self-assessment is not about judging yourself harshly but about gaining a clear and compassionate understanding of your self-esteem. By identifying specific areas where you can grow, you create a targeted approach for developing a healthier, more positive view of yourself. Remember, self-improvement is a journey, and recognising your current state is the first step.

Strategies for Raising Self-Esteem

Positive Self-Talk

Transforming how we talk to ourselves is a powerful step in learning how to feel good about yourself. Here’s how to implement strategies of positive self-talk and self-compassion:

Challenging and Reframing Negative Thoughts: Begin by noticing when you’re being overly critical with yourself. Challenge these negative thoughts by asking whether you would say the same to a friend. If the answer is no, it’s time to reframe those thoughts in a kinder, more realistic way. For instance, instead of thinking, “I can never do anything right,” reframe it to “Everyone makes mistakes, and I can learn from this.”
Practising Self-Compassion: Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend in distress. It means acknowledging that being imperfect is part of the human experience. When you struggle or face setbacks, respond with empathy and gentleness towards yourself rather than harsh judgment.

Adopting a practice of positive self-talk and self-compassion can significantly boost your self-esteem. It encourages a more supportive and forgiving relationship with yourself, which is essential for personal growth and well-being. Remember, the goal is to cultivate a voice within that uplifts and supports you, allowing you to embrace life with confidence and resilience.

Set Realistic Goals

A practical approach to building self-esteem involves setting achievable, incremental goals and recognising every achievement along the way. Here’s how you can apply these strategies:

Setting Achievable, Incremental Goals: Identify specific, measurable, and realistic goals. These should be tasks that challenge you but are within your ability to accomplish. Breaking larger goals into smaller, manageable steps helps prevent overwhelming feelings and keeps motivation high. For instance, if your goal is to improve your public speaking skills, start speaking up more during meetings before progressing to larger presentations.
Celebrating Small Victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Completing a task or making a step towards a larger goal deserves recognition. Celebrating these victories reinforces positive feelings about your abilities and encourages your progress. It can be as simple as rewarding yourself with a favourite treat or activity.

Implementing these strategies not only aids in building self-esteem but also cultivates a growth mindset. Setting realistic goals and valuing each achievement fosters a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that contributes significantly to a healthy self-image.

Embrace Self-Care

Embracing self-care is crucial for enhancing both physical and mental well-being, contributing significantly to improved self-esteem. Here’s how to incorporate self-care into your routine:

Prioritising Physical and Mental Well-Being: Recognise that taking care of your body and mind is not selfish but necessary. Start by incorporating activities that promote physical health, such as regular exercise, nutritious eating, and adequate sleep, into your daily routine. For mental well-being, engage in practices that reduce stress and promote relaxation, such as meditation, reading, or spending time in nature.
Engaging in Self-Care Activities: Identify activities that make you feel rejuvenated and content. This can vary greatly from person to person—what’s important is finding what works for you. It could be pursuing a hobby, taking a warm bath, or simply allowing yourself time to rest. The key is to make these activities a regular part of your life rather than an afterthought.

Incorporating self-care into your daily life helps build a foundation of self-respect and self-love, essential components of healthy self-esteem. Treating yourself with kindness and understanding signals that you are worthy of care and attention, boosting your overall sense of self-worth.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Fostering healthy self-esteem often involves the environment and relationships we nurture. Surrounding yourself with positivity can profoundly impact how you view yourself. Here’s how to cultivate a positive support network and limit negativity:

Building a Support Network of Friends and Family: Actively seek and nurture relationships with individuals who uplift and encourage you. Look for friends and family members who respect you, offer constructive feedback, and celebrate your successes. These relationships can be a powerful mirror reflecting your worth and potential, reinforcing a positive self-image.
Limiting Exposure to Negativity: Be mindful of the sources of negativity in your life, whether people, places, or media. While it’s not always possible to eliminate all negative influences, you can choose to spend less time with people who drain your energy or undermine your self-esteem. Similarly, curate your media consumption to include uplifting and motivational content rather than critical or demeaning.

Creating an environment of positivity and support is essential for developing and maintaining healthy self-esteem. By consciously choosing who and what you surround yourself with, you reinforce your values and cultivate a mindset that supports personal growth and self-acceptance.

Practice Self-Acceptance

A key component of feeling good about yourself lies in the practice of self-acceptance. This involves acknowledging your imperfections and embracing your unique qualities. Here’s how to cultivate self-acceptance:

Embracing Imperfections and Flaws: Recognise that imperfections are a natural part of being human. Instead of criticising yourself for these, view them as characteristics that make you unique. When you dwell on your flaws, remind yourself that no one is perfect, and our imperfections contribute to our individuality.
Focusing on Personal Strengths and Qualities: Consciously identify and appreciate your strengths and positive attributes. This can be anything from your kindness and creativity to resilience and sense of humour. Regularly reflecting on these qualities can shift your focus from what you perceive as flaws to what makes you uniquely capable and worthy.

Practising self-acceptance is a journey towards embracing the totality of who you are, flaws included. It’s about acknowledging your worth and feeling good about yourself as you are now, not just as you think you should be. Cultivating this mindset encourages a more compassionate and accepting relationship with yourself, laying the groundwork for genuine self-esteem.

Learn from Mistakes

A crucial aspect of developing your self-esteem is learning to view mistakes and failures as opportunities

for growth rather than reasons for self-blame or guilt. Here’s how to adopt this constructive mindset:

Viewing Failures as Opportunities for Growth: Start by re-framing how you perceive mistakes. Instead of seeing them as setbacks, consider them opportunities to learn and improve. After a failure, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?” This approach fosters resilience and encourages a positive outlook towards challenges, enhancing your problem-solving skills and self-esteem over time.
Avoiding Self-Blame and Guilt: It’s important to practice self-compassion and avoid harshly judging yourself for mistakes. Recognise that everyone errs and that errors are part of the human experience. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, focus on how you can do better in the future. Remind yourself that progress, not perfection, is the goal.

Maintaining and Sustaining High Self-Esteem

Achieving healthy self-esteem is an ongoing process that requires regular attention and care. Maintaining this balance is crucial for enduring well-being and resilience in life’s inevitable setbacks and challenges. Here’s how to sustain your self-esteem over time:

Recognise the Importance of Ongoing Self-Esteem Maintenance: Like any mental and physical health aspect, self-esteem benefits from continuous nurturing. Acknowledging your worth, practising self-care, and staying connected with supportive people are all practices that should be part of your regular routine. This ongoing maintenance helps reinforce a positive self-image and ensures you’re equipped to handle whatever comes your way confidently.
Strategies for Dealing with Setbacks and Challenges: It’s natural to experience fluctuations in your self-esteem, especially during difficult times. When faced with setbacks, remind yourself of your resilience and ability to overcome past challenges. Focus on what you can control and take constructive action, whether seeking support, adjusting your goals, or simply giving yourself time to process and recover. Remember, each challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow stronger.

Maintaining healthy self-esteem is a dynamic process that adapts as you change and grow. By committing to regular self-reflection, embracing self-compassion, and actively engaging in practices that bolster your sense of self, you lay the groundwork for a resilient and fulfilling life.

The Journey to Self-Empowerment

In our exploration of raising self-esteem, we’ve uncovered the foundational elements contributing to how we see ourselves and interact with the world around us. Each strategy plays a vital role in building self-esteem, from understanding the nature of self-esteem and recognising its influencers to embracing positive self-talk, setting realistic goals, and practising self-acceptance. We’ve also discussed the importance of learning from mistakes and maintaining this newfound confidence through continuous self-care and resilience-building.

Venturing on this journey requires courage, commitment, and a willingness to face ourselves with honesty and compassion. Remember, building and sustaining healthy self-esteem is not a destination but a continuous journey that enhances every aspect of your life.

Take Control of Your Story with Connecting Mental Health

Ready to start your journey to self-empowerment? The professional therapists and psychologists at Connecting Mental Health are here to guide you every step of the way. With expert support, personalised strategies, and a compassionate understanding of your unique story, we’re dedicated to helping you build and maintain the self-esteem you deserve. Trust in our expertise to transform challenges into opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Book a session today, and let’s guide you on this transformative journey. Your story is worth telling; we’re here to listen, support, and celebrate you.