This article is for you if you’re looking for effective strategies to become a more confident person with a healthy dose of self-esteem.
Research shows that people with stronger confidence set higher goals in life, and their commitments to these goals are firmer. If these qualities appeal to you, I’ll share some tips to help you develop them.
But first, what is self-esteem?
What Exactly Is Self-Esteem?
In a nutshell, self-esteem is your perception of yourself; it is how you feel about the person you are and who you are becoming.
And while self-esteem and confidence are used interchangeably (because both concepts overlap), they are not exactly the same.
Confidence or self-confidence is generally about the belief in your abilities ― having faith in what you can do and positively expressing that belief.
On the flip side, self-esteem isn’t always linked to your abilities. In most cases, self-esteem has nothing to do with how others perceive you. Instead, it is more about how you perceive yourself and what you think of your strengths and weaknesses.
People with poor self-esteem are usually more self-critical. They beat themselves up for every mistake, hardly forgive themselves, and don’t easily move on from past errors.
But here’s the kicker.
You can be a confident person and still be unreasonably critical of yourself. In other words, you can be exceptionally good at several things and have faith in your abilities but struggle with poor self-esteem.
Healthy self-esteem means having a positive outlook and feeling good about yourself despite mistakes and flaws. This quality allows you to be more resilient, bouncing back from adversities quickly and coping with difficult situations.
Tips and Strategies for Building Self-Esteem
Improving your self-esteem is important whether you are self-confident or have little faith in your abilities. Here are my top suggestions for building healthy self-esteem.
1. Recognize and Challenge Unhelpful Beliefs About Yourself
First, notice when your mind goes on about how inadequate you are. Those negative beliefs about yourself damage your self-esteem, so you must learn to recognize, halt, and challenge them.
For example, you might think, “no one cares about me,” or “I’m not good at anything!” These statements may feel true, but are they?
The more deliberate effort you make to catch yourself in a stream of self-critical statements and challenge them, the better you can stop that train of thought before it weighs you down.
- Whenever you notice your mind dwelling on a negative thought about yourself, write the thought down.
- Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind and re-center yourself.
- Try to assume an observer’s perspective and read the statement you’ve written. Ask questions that challenge the statement. For example, “Is it true that I am not good at anything? Really?” You’ll see that your mind is blowing things out of proportion because of some disappointments or setbacks.
- Next, think of 3 to 5 things about yourself that challenge your unhelpful belief and write them down. It doesn’t matter whether they are big or small, just write down any evidence that negates the unhelpful belief. For example, “I am a dependable friend,” “I’m always learning,” or “I’m great at sports.” Add to your list regularly.
- Place your list where you can see it frequently during the course of the day. Read and say them to yourself as often as possible, using them as positive affirmations.
Besides helping you become a more confident person, this exercise reminds you that you are okay. This helps you feel better about yourself, regardless of real or perceived flaws.
2. Be Kind to Yourself, Even When You Don’t Feel Confident
It’s easy to assume that people with healthy self-esteem always feel great about themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Here’s the thing.
Self-esteem is not always constant; it can take a nosedive in certain situations and go through the roof at other times.
You’d be holding yourself to an unrealistic standard if you expect to maintain healthy self-esteem and confidence 24/7. Ideally, you should feel good about yourself all the time, but liking yourself all day, every day, is simply impractical.
Knowing this, learn to give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself; even if you have moments of self-doubt, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Avoid talking down on yourself neither should you say negative things about yourself to others. Instead, boost your self-esteem by celebrating your wins, no matter how small.
- Anytime you successfully handle a particularly challenging day, reward yourself for your effort.
- When you notice your confidence level has dropped, tell yourself it is normal to feel this way because you are human. It doesn’t make you someone with chronic low self-esteem. If anything, it takes a self confident person with healthy self esteem to quickly recognize dips in their confidence level.
- If you catch yourself harshly criticizing yourself and engaging in negative self talk, stop and shift your focus to the positives. Don’t beat yourself up for criticizing yourself; that’s like punishing yourself twice for one mistake.
3. Avoid Negative Relationships, Build Positive Ones
You might have a ton of faith in your abilities, but if you don’t particularly like the person you are, the worst thing you can do is hang around individuals who make you feel bad about yourself.
Limit the time and effort you put into relationships that drag you down and make you feel worthless. Build and strengthen relationships with individuals who see the best in you, even when you can’t.
- Note the different people you spend most of your time with daily or weekly.
- Review how you generally feel after spending time with these people. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
- Deliberately increase the time you spend with those who uplift you and reduce, as much as possible, the time spent with those who sap the life out of you.
4. Take on New Challenges
Step out of your comfort zone and give yourself a challenge. It’s okay to feel afraid and nervous when attempting something new, but avoiding challenging situations won’t do your self-esteem and self-confidence any good.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking on a challenge:
- Do something difficult for you to achieve. If it doesn’t challenge you, it will hardly boost your self-esteem.
- Focus on and enjoy the process without fixating on the outcome. It is okay to fail at a challenge, especially if it is something you’ve never attempted. Don’t hold on too tightly to a specific outcome. Part of building good self-esteem is feeling good about yourself no matter what and regardless of your abilities. In other words, if you fail, dust yourself up and try again.
- You don’t have to go it alone when trying something new and challenging. Ask for help when you need it. Contrary to what you might think, seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it takes a confident person with a healthy dose of self-esteem to ask for help when they need it.
Ideas for Challenges to Boost Self-Esteem
- Talk to at least one new person every day for the next month. This practice helps build your confidence and makes you more relaxed with strangers.
- Take a fitness class and eat healthily to improve your physical health. Building healthy self-esteem is a lot easier when you are fit and healthy.
- Make it a point to attend one or more social occasions monthly. This is particularly helpful if you consider yourself an introvert.
- Volunteer your time or resources. You’ll feel great about yourself when you give back to your community.
5. Make Time for What You’re Good At
It’s difficult to improve your self-esteem if you’re good at one thing but spend your entire life doing another. For one, you’re putting your energy into what you may not be well-suited to, and your self-esteem takes a hit with each failure.
Recognize what you’re good at and find ways to do it. What makes you come alive? What activities make you lose track of time?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a career or something that makes you money; it could be a hobby or an interest. The most important thing is identifying and doing more of what you enjoy.
Each time you do this, you feel better about yourself and improve your self-esteem.
- Regularly review your routines and find ways to inject more enjoyable activities. Try to identify and do a few things you are good at. This will shift your self-perception to a more positive one.
Like any valuable thing in life, building good self-esteem doesn’t happen overnight. Whether or not you consider yourself a confident person, developing good self-esteem requires making small improvements over a long time.
I encourage you to consistently practice the strategies in this article, focusing on long-term results rather than immediate ones. In time, it will be well worth the effort.