In honor of International Boost Self-Esteem Month, we wanted to discuss what low self-esteem is, how to recognize it, and how to improve your self-esteem, so it doesn’t create roadblocks in your journey to better mental health or affect your relationship with others. 

To get started, let’s take a step back and talk about what self-esteem is. Self-esteem is the value or worth you apply to your own existence. High or low, self-esteem shapes your confidence, self-respect, and how you see yourself from another’s perspective. According to Psychology Today, “Confidence in one’s value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction.”

When we begin to experience low self-worth, however, we start to feel symptoms of sadness or depression. We may even convince ourselves that we will never live up to our fullest potential and use that to justify unhealthy relationships or bad habits, affecting our career or health. 

How to Recognize Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can be subtle, and you may experience negative thoughts or feelings about yourself without even realizing it. For example, you may downplay your achievements as luck when others try to compliment you. You may also put yourself down using humor to devalue yourself in order to bring others’ self-confidence up or to avoid uncomfortable public praise. 

Recognizing these habits is the first step to putting a stop to them and achieving a stronger self-worth that leads to positive changes and decisions in your life.

How to Boost Self-Esteem

  • Be Kind to Yourself: When it comes to critics, the hardest voice to ignore is the one inside your head. And though you could spend all day berating yourself for making a mistake at work, saying something you regret, or feeling isolated from your friends, finding ways to challenge these kinds of thoughts can help you restructure your thinking and come up with proactive solutions that allow you to resolve issues and find inner peace. 

Self-Esteem Exercise #1: The Mayo Clinic recommends removing “I should” or “I must” statements from your vocabulary. This allows you to refocus your thoughts on realistic expectations. Another tip they suggest is keeping a journal, where you jot down negative statements you say about yourself but write them down using your non-dominant hand. This always you to distance yourself from these negative thoughts and observe them from a different perspective. 

  • Compliment; Don’t Compare: Comparing our career status, income, appearance, etc. is a natural human phenomenon, but it’s also a very harmful one. Rather than recognizing and appreciating the achievements of others, especially our friends, we tend to measure our own self-worth by their success. According to Psychology Today, comparisons only lead to negative self-talk. 

Self-Esteem Exercise #2: Practice giving yourself one genuine compliment every day. The best thing is, this exercise doesn’t cost you anything and it actually gets a lot easier the more you try it. Remember to give yourself credit for your efforts, for trying something new, and for making a positive change in your life, each day.

  • Practice Self-Care: When you take an interest in yourself, you’re able to acknowledge and recognize yourself as a person with needs, wants, and expectations. Finding time each day or each week to do something that interests you will have a dramatic effect on your self-confidence and worth. 

Self-Esteem Exercise # 3: Planning to make a healthy, nutritious meal three or more times a week, going to the pool or gym, getting your hair done, learning a new skill, or making time each day to do something you love are just a few activities you can try to practice self-care. What’s important to remember is no matter how busy you are, your needs are important and matter, so be sure to make time for yourself each day. 

Practice Building Self-Confidence This Month

At the Calli Institute, we encourage you to practice these exercises to help boost your self-esteem all throughout the month of February! If you feel your low self-esteem is holding you back, contact us, so we can meet with you and help you identify what may be causing it and design ways to help improve your self-care, so you feel like your best self in 2020.