According to the National Science Foundation, the average person has approximately 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day — and 80% of those are negative. While these thoughts can keep us alert and safe, they can also whittle away at our self-esteem.
How to Improve Your Self Esteem
Our therapeutic team compiled their tips below to help you improve your self-confidence.
Become More Mindful
A major difference between a person with high self-esteem versus low self-esteem is how they process their thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Simply becoming aware of any negative self-talk and/or self-limiting beliefs can significantly improve how you feel about yourself.
For example, the next time you’re stuck in a loop of self-criticism, take a moment to pause and shift your focus. Try taking a step back from your negative thoughts by writing them down and letting them out. Once your negative thoughts are on paper, try writing 3-5 positive thoughts about yourself or the current situation. This can help you practice positive thinking patterns, while challenging negative ones. It can also help you alter your perspective, making you feel better about yourself.
Quit Comparing Yourself to Others
Social media can make it all too easy to compare yourself to others. However, research shows that when a person relies on external sources for their self-esteem, they experience more stress, anger, and conflict. They are also more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or suffer from disordered eating patterns.
This is why self-esteem has to come from within. It’s important to constantly remind yourself that perfect doesn’t exist and that each person’s story is different from the next. You can’t compare yourself to others — they haven’t walked in your shoes and you haven’t walked in theirs. Instead, focus on learning and growing from your mistakes. After all, self-esteem doesn’t necessarily come from being successful at something — it comes from falling and getting back up again.
Exercise Your Mindset
Exercise isn’t just for improving your physical self; it also helps your mental health. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which make you feel good and in turn improves your mood. When you’re in a better mindset, you’re less likely to lean into negative thinking patterns.
Various studies have found a connection between regular exercise and improved self-esteem. A 2016 study noted a correlation between exercise, self-esteem, and body image. These researchers concluded that regular physical activity should be recommended to individuals with low self-esteem.
However, exercise can be difficult to start, but not impossible. You’ll want to start slowly and find an activity you enjoy. This may involve trying a few different forms of exercise before finding one that works for you and your life. And when you do, not only will you feel physically stronger, you will become mentally stronger as well.
Try Something New
Learning a new skill has shown time and again to boost self-confidence. Your self-esteem will grow as you make small wins, such as showing up for your first pottery class or getting through the first few modules of an online course. True confidence comes from the belief that you can depend on yourself to take action, follow-through, and keep going when things get a bit uncomfortable. Learning and mastering a new activity can achieve this — and you may just make a few new friends or have fun along the way.
Holding a grudge can feel heavy.. If you’re holding on to events, feelings, or thoughts that are stopping you from living your best life, a professional can help. A therapist can work with you to process these emotions — even if the person (or situation) isn’t in your life any longer.
Practicing the act of forgiveness conditions you to accept your own self or circumstances with empathy. At the same time, if you feel forgiveness isn’t appropriate or possible, letting go can be. Letting go involves accepting what has happened and moving past it. By doing so, you can create a stronger sense of self, where you aren’t held back by hurt or pain. Moving forward, you can set appropriate boundaries or limits from what you’ve learned. When we take action to set healthy boundaries with others, we subconsciously teach ourselves to honour our feelings and experiences — without harsh judgement. In turn, this increases your self-worth and your self-esteem.
Remind Yourself That You Aren’t Your Circumstances
While we can’t always control our circumstances, we can influence how we interpret and personalize them. Working with a therapist can help you move from self-blame and/or self-victimizing to feeling empowered and in control of your emotional health. When you feel empowered and in control, you may value and respect yourself more.
It’s entirely possible to alter your self-esteem with the right tools, time, and practice. Try the steps above to move toward a greater sense of confidence and self-worth.
However, if you’re struggling, reach out to a therapist and get the helping hand you need. You don’t have to go through it alone. Bhatia Psychology Group can help you overcome life’s challenges. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.