Self-esteem can fluctuate from time to time and day to day. One minute, you may feel confident in the work that you’re doing. Shortly afterwards, you may feel a rush of negative thoughts cloud your mind.
Maybe you prepared and presented an important deck for a project at work with a good amount of self-confidence, but soon after, the feeling plunges. These changes in self-esteem can happen several times throughout the day, which is normal.
Having high self-esteem all the time can be exhausting and taxing, which is why it is recommended to build your self-esteem high enough to believe that your ideas, feelings, and opinions have value.
But how exactly do you know if your self-esteem is high enough? In this article, we will dive into what self-esteem is, why it's important, and how to build yours up.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is your overall sense of value and self-worth. It involves your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about yourself. Your self-esteem can be influenced by various factors, including relationships, experiences, personal accomplishments, and societal expectations.
Why is Self-Esteem Important?
Self-esteem is fundamentally important in overall wellbeing, confidence, and the quality of relationships. A high level of self-esteem contributes to positive emotional wellbeing, as it serves as a buffer against stress and fosters resilience in the face of challenges.
When self-esteem issues are left unattended, this could be detrimental to your mood and your overall wellbeing. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself and take care of yourself. People with high self-esteem often practice self-compassion, a foundation of self-care.
What Can Lower Self-Esteem?
There are several factors that can lead to low self-esteem. A few reasons could be:
- Negative experiences - Experiencing failures, setbacks, or persistent challenges can undermine self-confidence. Without coping mechanisms or a supportive environment, you may internalise these experiences and lead to a diminished sense of self-worth.
- Social comparisons - In a world that revolves around social media, the constant exposure to curated, seemingly perfect lives can create unrealistic standards and feelings of inadequacy, making it challenging to feel good about oneself.
- Goal setting - Setting goals is important in guiding your focus, motivation, and direction in life. When you have goals that are unattainable or unrealistic, it can take a toll on your self-esteem when you are unable to reach them.
What Are the Effects of Low Self-Esteem?
Having low self-esteem negatively impacts your mental health and emotional wellbeing. A few common effects of low self-esteem are:
- Lack of assertiveness - People with low self-esteem often find it challenging to assert themselves. They may avoid expressing their opinions or advocating for their needs, leading to an overall sense of powerlessness.
- Poor mental health - Living with low self-esteem can often lead to anxiety or depression. While people with poor self-esteem are often critical of themselves, this contributes to feelings of sadness, hopelessness. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, Naluri offers 24/7 counselling support and a free Naluri Mental Health Assessment to identify risk factors for anxiety, depression, and stress.
- Social withdrawal - People with low self-esteem will often isolate themselves and avoid social situations out of fear and judgment from others. This withdrawal provides a safe comfort zone away from others, which often amplifies their feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.
6 Ways to Build Your Self-Esteem
While building your self-esteem is no easy feat, there are steps that can be taken to achieve a healthy level of self-esteem that can make a difference to your wellbeing. Here are six ways you can get started:
- Practice regular self-compassion
As you work on building your self-esteem, being kind to yourself and forgiving yourself for how you treated yourself before is important. Think of it like treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend facing a challenge. This regular practice of self-compassion will do wonders for your self-esteem and build the foundation for a healthier relationship with yourself. Read our guide to self-compassion for strategies and techniques you can incorporate into your daily routine.
- Set realistic goals
By setting realistic goals, you are setting yourself up for success by mapping out a clear and achievable pathway to personal growth. This creates a sense of competence and accomplishment with every goal achieved, no matter how big or small. Read our latest guide on goal setting and how to achieve them.
- Challenge any negative thoughts that arise
Challenging negative thoughts is crucial for building self-esteem because these thoughts shape our perceptions, emotions, and behaviours. Journaling comes with many health benefits, and putting your thoughts on paper (or on a device!) can help identify recurring negative patterns and triggers. This can also help you challenge and reframe these thoughts later on by replacing them with positive, affirming statements. Alternatively, you can seek support or advice from a trusted friend, family member or consult a mental health professional.
- Surround yourself with positivity
Elevate yourself by surrounding yourself with positive influences, including friends and mentors who uplift and support you. Cultivate relationships with people who appreciate your strengths and encourage your growth whilst distancing yourself from toxic relationships that bring negativity into your life and undermine your self-esteem.
- Take care of your physical health
Your physical wellbeing and self-esteem are interconnected, as physical health has a direct impact on mood, energy levels, and overall self-perception - creating a positive feedback loop for improved self-esteem. Whether it is taking a brisk walk, maintaining a healthy diet, or ensuring a good sleep hygiene and bedtime ritual, these practices will increase energy levels, improve your overall mood, and lead to a sense of accomplishment, all of which contribute to higher self-esteem. To add some fun into the mix, take part in a health challenge (such as the Naluri Walk & Win challenge) and get your friends and family in on it too!
- Set proper boundaries in your relationships
Reflect on your current boundaries in both your professional and personal life - do they work for you? Establishing proper boundaries is key in your journey to building your self-esteem, as this becomes a framework for your values and promotes self-respect, personal empowerment, and maintaining healthy relationships. Setting boundaries can include communicating your needs clearly to others, learning to say no when necessary, and prioritising practising self-care.
As you embark on your self-esteem building journey, you’ll discover that it may not necessarily be a quick and smooth one. You’ll experience setbacks, and that’s perfectly normal. There will be days when your self-esteem may take a hit, but just remember to be patient with yourself, as progress won’t happen overnight. All the best!