Try asking yourself these questions.
- Do I like myself?
- Do I think I’m a good human being?
- Am I someone deserving of love?
- Do I deserve happiness?
- Do I feel deep down that I’m an OK person?
People with low self-esteem find it hard to answer yes to all or most
of the above. Perhaps you are one of them. If so, what can you do?
Remember – you’re uniquely special!
A good way to start improving your self-esteem is to acknowledge that
you are special – because there’s no one else quite like you.
Not only are your fingerprints and DNA different from everyone else’s
(unless you have an identical twin), but your mind, and how it thinks
and operates, is totally your own.
This means that out of almost 7 billion people in the world, you are a
one-off. So if nature has bothered to make you unique, don’t you feel
you should accept that you’re important and also that you have as much
right as anyone else to be on this planet?
You have other rights, too. One of them is the right to make
mistakes. Don’t forget that ‘to err is human’ – and most of us learn
through getting things wrong before we get them right.
Furthermore, we have the right to respect ourselves – and to be
respected. And, perhaps most importantly of all, we have the right to
say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for ourselves.
Unfortunately, lots of people with poor self-esteem really beat
themselves up whenever they make a mistake or error of judgement.
They feel that they are ‘no good’ because they fail an exam, lose a
job or because they’re having an affair or have been dumped.
But such events – and how we behave about them and deal with them –
are just a tiny part of who we are. And it’s important to remember that.
It might help too to take on board that individuals with healthy
self-esteem don’t define themselves by their occasional failures or
denigrate their whole beings when things don’t go right. Their regard
for themselves is based on a bigger picture.
So, if you are prone to deep despair at some aspect of yourself, try
telling yourself that it’s just a tiny fragment of the multiple layers
and components that make up the real you. And try not to
condemn the whole of your being when you make a mistake or do something
you’re not too proud of.
Halt destructive thoughts
Many people with poor self-esteem think they’re not very important and that their views carry no weight. Is this you?
If so, try to stop these destructive thoughts because if you go
around believing them, you’ll encourage other people to believe them
Instead, start thinking of yourself as someone who has rights, opinions
and ideas that are just as valid as those of anyone else. This will
help you to improve your self-esteem.
Accentuate the positive
Often we make ourselves unhappy because we go over and over mistakes
we have made. But we can improve our self-esteem if we re-think the
things we believe we have done wrong or badly.
For example, one of my clients has to give presentations at work. He
used to be very critical of his performance and would lose sleep
afterwards over the tiniest of errors.
But now, he writes an account of each presentation shortly after he’s given it and only writes about the things that went well.
He doesn’t need to write about the bad things – they will stick in
his memory and he will try hard not to repeat them – but he will forget
the good things unless he writes them down.
So when you have a horrible day, or something goes wrong in your
relationship or at work, write an account of what went right with that
episode, not what went wrong.
The results will surprise you – and improve how you see yourself.
List 50 things you like about yourself
If you’re seriously lacking in self-esteem, you probably find it hard to think positively about you.
So, try this exercise: write a list of 50 things that you like and admire about yourself. This could take weeks, but persevere!
- You can write down your characteristics.
- You can include things about your looks.
- You can even write about the things you do. For example, you may buy
a copy of the Big Issue on a day when you’re short of money, or you may
help an elderly woman in the supermarket when you’re rushing to get
your own shopping done.
When you have reached your 50 good things, write them down again on
small pieces of card that you can carry with you at all times.
You can probably squeeze in 5 points on each card, so that you’ll have 10 cards when you’re finished.
Then, twice a day, shuffle the cards – so that you can view your good points in a fresh order – and then read them.
If you do this every day, you will start to accept your own goodness and worth.
And if you have a difficult task ahead – like a new date, or a job
interview – always read your cards one extra time just before your
challenge. This will help you to be more relaxed and optimistic.
Getting and giving criticism
One of the areas that people with low self-esteem have greatest
difficulty with is criticism – giving as well as receiving it. Both can
be extraordinarily difficult.
How to deal with criticism
Often when we’re criticised, we’re so hurt that we start excusing
ourselves and rebutting what’s being said without really listening to
This doesn’t help us. So here are some hints and tips about dealing with criticism.
- Listen to criticism without interrupting.
- Next, if there are aspects to the criticism that are valid, begin by agreeing with those points.
- If parts are unclear, ask for clarification.
- If you realise you were wrong, say so and apologise.
- If criticism is wrong or unfair, smile and say: ‘I’m afraid I don’t agree with you’.
How to give criticism
People with poor-self esteem find it just as hard to dish out
criticism as they do to receive it. In fact, many such individuals avoid
promotion because they can’t face the prospect of being in authority
and having to criticise others.
So how can you learn to criticise when you have to?
- Keep calm.
- Make your criticism at an appropriate time. Don’t wait until you’re
so fed up that you’re furious. If you do, – you’re bound to make a
mess of it.
- Take deep breaths, then try a technique called the ‘criticism
sandwich’. This means you say something nice, then insert the criticism,
then end with another positive comment.
- An example would be: ‘Your work is usually great, but it’s not quite
right today. So, I’ll have to ask you to re-do that report. But I bet
this time you’ll do it brilliantly.
A final note…
Having poor self-esteem can really make our lives and our work and
our relationships so much more difficult than they need to be.
So, if you have low self-esteem, I hope that this article will help you to improve it.
Because once you have more positive regard for yourself, you’ll find
that everything in your existence will run much more smoothly than it
does at the moment.