Boosting Self-Confidence: A guide to overcoming low self-esteem

We’ve all had moments when we don’t feel our best, but when low self-esteem becomes a constant companion, it can deeply affect our lives.

Let’s explore what self-esteem is, what causes it to plummet, and most importantly, how to boost it.

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.


Understanding Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is simply how we feel about ourselves. When our self-esteem is healthy, we see life in a positive light, making it easier to navigate challenges. But when it’s low, we tend to focus on our flaws and struggles, feeling inadequate and powerless.

What’s the Difference Between Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem?

Self-confidence, often synonymous with believing in oneself, encompasses expectations of performance and self-evaluations of abilities.

Self-esteem, on the other hand, is a multifaceted trait, which encompasses a relatively stable belief about one’s overall self-worth. It includes confidence about coping with life’s challenges and the belief in deserving happiness and success. And while not exactly the same, the two concepts are closely related.

Identifying the Root Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem often starts in childhood, shaped by messages we receive from family, friends and society. Negative experiences, stress, and unreasonably high expectations also can chip away at our confidence. Understanding where these feelings come from is the first step to overcoming them.

The Impact of Low Self-Esteem

Living with low self-esteem can lead us to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable, isolating ourselves and missing out on opportunities. In the long run, this avoidance reinforces negative beliefs, fuelling conditions like depression and anxiety – and could even lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking or excessive drinking.

Steps to Boost Self-Esteem

You have agency when it comes to increasing your own confidence and sense of self-worth. Here are a few ways to start:

Increase your self-awareness: The journey to self-confidence begins with self-awareness. Take the time to reflect on your strengths, talents and achievements. What are you good at? What do others admire about you? Equally important is recognising areas where you may need improvement. By acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses, you can focus your efforts on growth while celebrating your successes along the way.

Challenge negative thoughts: Start by identifying and questioning the negative beliefs you hold about yourself. Write them down and counter them with evidence of your strengths and positive qualities.

Celebrate your achievements: Recognise and appreciate the things you’re good at. And then do more of them. Engaging in activities you excel in can uplift your mood and remind you of your capabilities.

Cultivate positive relationships: Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Distance yourself from those who bring you down and communicate your feelings assertively.  Seek out positive, supportive people who believe in your potential. Limit your exposure to negativity and learn to manage how you react to criticism. Remember, you have the power to choose whose opinions matter to you.

Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a friend. Instead of harsh self-criticism, offer understanding and encouragement. Be kind to yourself, especially in moments of self-doubt or failure. Replace negative self-talk with words of encouragement and understanding, and embrace imperfection as part of the human experience.

Learn to assert yourself: Respect your own needs and opinions while acknowledging those of others. Take cues from assertive individuals and gradually incorporate assertiveness into your interactions.

Embrace challenges: Step out of your comfort zone and set achievable goals for yourself. Each accomplishment, no matter how small, contributes to building your confidence. Fear of failure often paralyses us, preventing us from taking risks and pursuing our goals. Instead of viewing failure as a setback, reframe it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Embrace challenges with curiosity and resilience, knowing that each experience, regardless of whether it’s successful, contributes to your personal development.

Seeking Support
If self-help techniques aren’t enough, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, can provide valuable tools to help overcome low self-esteem. To learn more about how therapy may help, check out this valuable resource from online therapy service BetterHelp.

Remember, raising self-esteem is a journey, not a quick fix. Building self-confidence is a dynamic process that requires self-awareness, resilience and practice. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every small victory along the way.

With dedication and support, you can cultivate a healthier relationship with yourself and approach life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

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