Anxiety, stress, depression, and low self-image or low self-esteem is something that is on the rise, according to recent studies. All of us have moments when we feel less confident and doubt ourselves or question our looks, abilities, and actions. This is part of being human. But sometimes that low self-esteem can be crippling and takes it to a step that endangers ourselves and our lives. Here are 12 proven tips for raising your self-confidence and self-esteem and getting the life you want.
SERIOUS SELF-ESTEEM STATS
We aren’t born with low self-esteem and lack of confidence. It develops over time, and is particularly prevalent in teenage years. 70% of teenage girls believe they don’t measure up in some way or are less capable, less attractive or less talented than others. This includes relationships with schoolmates, friends and family members. 20% of teens experience clinical depression before reaching adulthood. 44% of girls are attempting to lose weight. Teenage girls with low self-esteem are four times more likely to engage in activities with boys that they later regret. Over 70% of teenage girls, 15 to 17 years of age reported they will avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, because of low self-esteem. 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in serious negative activities, for example: cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or having eating disorders.
Adolescent challenges of low self-esteem can be long lasting and deeply affect a person as they grow into adulthood, and throughout their life, however low-self esteem can occur in early childhood and adulthood as well. Causes of low self-esteem can be due to trauma or abuse. According to The Self-Esteem Book, by Dr Joe Rubino, 85% of the world’s population are affected by low self-esteem. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more deaths are caused by suicide every year than homicide or war. Studies show that genetic influence on addictions is not the primary cause. Instead, low self-esteem is the most common worldwide trait among people battling addictions. Of those who have been bullied, 87% felt it had a negative effect on their self-esteem. If you suffer from low self-esteem, poor body image, or lack of confidence, you are not alone. So what can be done? Why should one try to improve one’s self-esteem or self-confidence? What are the benefits?
BENEFITS OF HEALTHY SELF-ESTEEM
A positive self-image and high self-esteem help us know when to make healthy changes in our lives, such as:
- Taking basic steps to provide oneself with adequate personal hygiene and daily care (showering, brushing teeth, trimming nails, wearing clean clothes, keeping a tidy house, eating healthy, balanced meals, etc.)
- Getting to a doctor or other health practitioner when in need of professional healthcare services, therapy, and treatment (dentist, optometrist, general practitioner, nutritionist, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc.)
- Getting needed training or guidance from a qualified coach, teacher or guide and taking classes, workshops, attending webinars, listening to podcasts, or reading and studying to improve oneself
- Successfully removing oneself from harmful situations in everyday life and especially in emergency situations
- Being fully capable and ready to love and accept others (family, friends, spouses, co-workers)
- Being able to quickly and easily list positive qualities about oneself (kind, awesome basketball player, cute nose, etc.)
- Exploring new environments and social settings (the opera, dancing, singing lessons, golf, etc.)
- Stepping forward into new, healthy, personal relationships or life situations (going on a date, signing up for tutoring, or quitting a stifling or unsupportive work situation).
- Changing your life to be the person you want to be (business owner, artist, musician, writer, etc.)
- Setting realistic and achievable goals and regularly revising or editing them, without guilt or shame
- Wholeheartedly receiving and giving compliments without insulting oneself (“Yes, I do look great in this new dress. Thank you.” “Your presentation was awesome! I’m so glad I came.”
- Feeling confident, comfortable, and unconcerned with the opinions or judgments of others. (Thanks for the feedback. I’ll think about what you said.”)
- Expecting the highest and best of oneself and taking next steps to achieve that dream
- Being certain of your opinions, preferences, and joys in life (e.g., you know you like pizza with pineapple but you don’t like cold pineapple; or you know you like piano music but you’re not crazy about the sound of a trumpet)
- Feeling happy, joyful and grateful for the many lessons and blessings–even when times are tough
- Trusting and believing in oneself fearlessly with confidence, regardless of the situation (“I know I can do this. I’m not giving up.”)
- Regularly scheduling down time to relax and have FUN!
- Being able to forgive yourself and others for past mistakes and hurts, knowing that this is part of life. You are human, you are real, and not perfect. Your imperfections are your strongest assets.
- Being successful and productive; reaching out to others to give back the blessings received, in a healthy, balanced way
- Knowing when to back away and stop when it is unproductive and unhealthy; being comfortable saying “No.”
SYMPTOMS OF LOW SELF ESTEEM
Low self-esteem can be a serious, life-threatening problem if it is unrelenting and prevents us from achieving our dreams. Chronic stress, lack of confidence and low self-esteem can result in serious stress-related illnesses, and minimize the quality of life. Some of the symptoms or resulting physical challenges of low self-esteem or low self-image may include:
- Self doubt, unable to see one’s good qualities, talents, skills, focusing on the negative
- Not taking basic steps to care for oneself, neglecting basic hygiene and self care
- Caring for others more than oneself; living a martyred life
- Worrying obsessively about treating others badly
- Failing to trust oneself and having low expectations
- Being shy, isolated or withdrawn socially
- Feeling inappropriately overwhelmed with anxiety, panic, worry or stress
- Experiencing fear of failure, or fear of success, based on a lack of self-confidence
- Speaking badly, making unkind and critical remarks about oneself
- Clinical depression and/or long lasting episodes of sadness
- Fearfully caught in a rut; eating the same foods, practicing the same daily routine
- Never finishing a project, accumulating multiple unfinished projects, hoarding, and/or living in cluttered, messy surroundings
- Obsessed with negative, frightening, or painful media communities and communications (TV, movies, news, chat groups, etc.)
- Avoiding answering friendly phone messages, emails, texts or other communications
- Inability to receive compliments and misinterpreting comments; believing that others are judging and criticizing or changing the compliment into something negative (“Oh, this old thing? I got it at a thrift store. I think it makes me look fat.”)
- Engaging in gossip, blame, or complaining-centered conversations
- An inability to fit in and a lack of social conformity
- Not knowing one’s opinions, preferences, and joys in life, and/or consistently changing one’s opinions and preferences to match those of others
- Avoiding new opportunities or new challenges
- Suffering from eating disorders such as: bulimia, anorexia nervosa
12 TIPS PROVEN TO RESET YOUR SELF-ESTEEM AND GET THE LIFE YOU WANT
There are a lot of programs out there for helping others BOOST and RESET their self-esteem. It can be very helpful to study these tips, but the bottom-line is to do the work. Here are 12 tips that are proven to be successful in boosting self-esteem and self-confidence and help others achieve their dreams and get the life they want.
- Set goals – One way to build self-esteem is to set goals. But it’s important to pick goals that are achievable. It’s a great feeling to check off things you’ve accomplished at the end of the day and builds self-esteem. Start with simple goals such as: wash the dishes, take a bath, make the bed, or call a friend. If you have more challenging goals such as finishing a neglected project that will take several weeks (for example: repairing and painting the fence), break it down into steps. You can start with making a plan. Draw out what you wish to accomplish. Write shopping list. Go to the store to buy supplies, etc. Set a date to start. Write the date on your calendar. Send yourself reminders. Don’t feel like a failure if you miss your goal deadline. Simply start over. Tell yourself, “I am making progress. I will make it happen.
- Be mindful – If you are seeing negative qualities in yourself, taking steps to be mindful is a critical technique for boosting your self-esteem. Sometimes people who lack confidence and lack high self-esteem have no conscious awareness of their “mind-talk.” Mindfulness will help reset the self-image button. Each time you notice yourself thinking a negative thought, replace it with a positive thought. Each time you notice a positive thought, say to yourself, “Good thinking. This feels great. Good job.” For example if you’re thinking, “I can never do anything right,” replace that thought with, “I am highly capable of succeeding.” or “I can do anything I put my mind to,” or “I am grateful for the many blessings in my life.” Then make a plan and take it step by step. Another technique is to read positive affirmations before going to sleep and upon waking in the morning, or using and listening to positive affirmation apps, videos, podcasts, webinars, or audiobooks.
- Face the demons – Raising self-esteem includes facing the darkness and pain deep inside. Sometimes low self-esteem can be caused by a history of abuse, harsh parenting, lack of praise or compliments, frequent teasing or bullying, or a life trauma. 87% of those who were bullied felt it negatively affected their self-esteem. A trained counselor, psychologist or psychotherapist, can help you face, accept, and love difficult past challenges. One effective technique is using a journal. Did you have a past trauma or history of abuse, that affected your self esteem? Some have found it helpful to write past traumas, or negative thoughts down on paper and then destroy them. If you are faith-driven, it might be helpful to turn to your spiritual practice, surrendering this over to Spirit in prayer, meditation or contemplation. Others have found it helpful to look in the mirror and talk to oneself. If your thoughts are saying, “Your teeth are crooked,” or “You can’t do this,” listen to the demons inside. Say, “Thank you for trying to help me. I hear the negativity. I am listening. I care and I love you. It’s okay. I am here for you now. You are lovable and valuable.” Facing demons can take time. Be patient with yourself and get help if you need it.
- Make a list – Begin making a list of things that you like about yourself. If this is difficult, start with a simple list such as, “I have a pretty smile,” or “I like my shoes,” or “I enjoy sitting with my cat.” Write down as many things as you can think of to boost your ego. It might be helpful to close your eyes and imagine a happy, peaceful time in your life. What are your happy memories? Where were you? What were you doing? What did you like about yourself and your life at this time? Can you recreate that now today?
- Find a coach or buddy – Studies show that people are more successful at making changes in their lives when they have a coach or study buddy. Find a more knowledgeable and experienced person who can hold you accountable, encourage you, and see your talents and skills,as you begin setting new goals and making changes in your life. Coaches or therapists are helpful because they are less likely to pass judgment or try to fix or change you. They are more likely to accept you on your journey and let you find your own way and set your own pace. On the other hand, family members or friends are more likely to try to persuade or encourage you to make a positive change. Family love and support is very important, however sometimes it’s hard for those closest to you to practice detachment and allow you the freedom you need. Interview your coach, before making a commitment. Remember that you have something valuable and important to offer the world and you deserve to have someone working with you who truly cares and puts you first.
- Get creative – Everyone needs a creative or expressive outlet. Trying something new is a great energy booster and helps to reset self-image and raise self-esteem. Make a list of new activities to help you build confidence. You can join a support group, take a class, attend a concert, go to a play, or get a new pet. If you prefer to stay at home, you might decide to learn a new skill, such as another language, taking an online art or music course, or even taking up dancing and learning a few steps in the privacy of your home. Find your tribe and enjoy yourself.
- Ignore fIxers and changers – It’s human nature for people to be uncomfortable around those who are suffering, angry, off-balance, depressed, complaining or exhibiting other symptoms of low self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, chances are you will find yourself in the company of someone who is trying to “fix you” by giving helpful tips to change your mood. Forgive them and let them be. The best way to respond is to just let that roll off. If you are feeling down in the dumps, and someone tries to be helpful and encouraging, saying, “Hey, cheer up. Stop being so hard on yourself. I think you are wonderful,” try to say, “Thank you,” and let it go. Often these positive remarks just aggravate the situation. It’s rare for a person with low self-confidence to know how to immediately shift into joy and happiness. Try not to feel as if you are failing at “being” cheerful or confident, when given this type of advice. You are perfectly fine. It’s okay to feel sad, fearful, unconfident or apprehensive sometimes. The best approach around someone with low self-esteem is is to let that person move at their own pace, ask questions, let them talk, and offer advice only if they are asking for it. You are fine just the way you are.
- Choose positive people – Don’t spend time around people who respond and react negatively toward you and toward life. For example, you may have a friend in your life or family member who makes you feel worse about yourself by criticizing or making demeaning remarks about you. If possible, eliminate all contact with these people, or begin spending less time, and surround yourself with people who recognize your remarkable golden qualities. Seek out people who leave you feeling better about yourself. If you cannot find anyone in your current situation or surroundings, then seek out new surroundings. If you need help and are in an abusive situation, contact the domestic violence hotline at www.thehotline.org/help/, or emotional abuse hotline at www.crisistextline.org/, or the National child abuse hotline www.childhelp.org/
- Help someone else – Charity is a proven way of raising self-esteem. If you can, volunteer to help out at your favorite charity, such as the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, the SPCA, the Boys Club, etc. If you are unable to leave your home or have physical limitations, you can serve in other ways. Call a friend or family member and offer kind words of encouragement and support, spend time with a brother, your husband, children, mother, or other loved one, make a donation to a worthy cause, send a letter or email of gratitude to a friend or an organization. Thank them using specific examples. Communicate online or in chats or text messages to send helpful messages of encouragement. You can even try this with strangers online where public input is open and encouraged. Be specific and direct. For example, saying, “You’re a great person,” is not as effective as saying, “When you shared about taking care of your grandmother, it really inspired me. You are a very kind, brave and selfless person.” If you specifically mention positive traits to others, you will gain skills and better see those traits in yourself.
- Decorate with love – Keep your home clean and tidy, and decorate with happy thoughts, words, and memories. If you are faith-driven, post messages of faith. If you have friends and family, take photos of yourself in different settings with loved ones, and keep these reminders around you in your home. Of course, this will not be effective if the decorations are tossed in a messy pile of papers on your desk. Spend money on a nice display with special frames or wall hangings. Looking at photo memories lovingly displayed, on the wall, or around your home, sends a powerful message–You are loved! You can also buy custom wall decals with positive affirmations. They are easy to peel and apply to the wall and very inexpensive. Choose messages such as “I can do anything!” “I am strong, courageous and free!” “I am loved,” or “I believe in me!”
- Take action – Once you have determined your strengths, then take the next step. If you decide you are a talented writer, submit an essay or join a writing group. If you are good at knitting, maybe you can knit some baby booties, or some socks for a senior citizen, and give it away to charity, or teach a child or friend to knit, or start a knitting circle. If you have a lovely singing voice, or play the guitar, join a local community chorus or volunteer to play music for your church. Are you ready to change your life? Choose a goal that makes you happy and take it up a step. Raising the bar one step is a way to reset your self-esteem and create the life you want. You’ve got this. Take it slowly and raise it up a notch. You are in control of your life, and when you are ready, take that next step.
- Take good care of yourself – Make sure to get enough sleep, physical exercise, eat healthy foods, and keep your home in good order. You can’t expect to feel good about yourself if you aren’t taking the basic steps to care and love yourself. You can succeed. Always be kind and loving to yourself. This is not an opportunity for regret and shame. Self-care is something everyone has to work with daily. If your life situation is chaotic, take baby steps. Start with one area of your life, one step at a time. If you need help, seek out a counselor, life coach, nutritionist, exercise coach, social worker, or hire and organizer to help you care for your home. There are many people out there who can help. Some communities have job banks where services are exchanged for no fee whatsoever. Take an inventory of your life: What am I not taking care of? What needs more loving care?
Low self-esteem is on the rise and affecting people of all ages. If you believe that you have a low self-image, it is possible to reset your self-image and raise your self-confidence so that you can get the life you truly want and deserve. You are a valuable person with a treasure trove of gifts to share with the world. Believe in yourself and don’t give up.
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READING
10 tips for improving your self-esteem, ReachOut.com. Accessed April 27, 2019, https://au.reachout.com/articles/10-tips-for-improving-your-self-esteem
10 Powerful Ways to Instantly Boost Your Self-Esteem. Mind Valley. Accessed April 28, 2019, https://blog.mindvalley.com/boost-your-self-esteem/
11 Facts About Teens and Self Esteem. Do Something.org Accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-teens-and-self-esteem
Borchard, Therese J. Why are so Many Teens Depressed? Psychcentral. Accessed May 1, 2019. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/04/why-are-so-many-teens-depressed/
Chong, Chloe. Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know. Lifehack. Accessed April 29, 2019, https://www.lifehack.org/565816/low-self-esteem
Council On Alcoholism And Drug Abuse. Image and Self Esteem. Mentor Resource Center. Accessed May 1, 2019, http://mentor-center.org/image-and-self-esteem/
Linton, Melissa. Teens & self-esteem: Your teen’s self-esteem dependent on you. Examiner.com. Accessed May 1, 2019. http://www.examiner.com/article/teens-self-esteem-your-teen-s-self-esteem-dependent-on-you.
Low Self-Esteem Statistics and Symptoms. Journal Buddies. Accessed April 30, 2019, https://www.journalbuddies.com/self-esteem-resource/low-esteem-statistics-symptoms/
Neuman, M.D., Fredric. Low Self-esteem. Psychology Today. Accessed May 1, 2019. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201304/low-self-esteem
Self Esteem. Mind for Better Mental Health. Accessed April 28, 2019, https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/
Self Esteem Exercises – Build Your Self Esteem Muscles. Accessed April 30, 2019. http://www.self-esteem-school.com/self-esteem-exercises.html
Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Ditch the Label. Accessed April 27, 2019, https://us.ditchthelabel.org/top-10-tips-overcoming-low-self-esteem/?
Tyrell, Mark. Top Ten Facts About Low Self-Esteem. Accessed April 29, 2019, https://www.self-confidence.co.uk/articles/top-ten-facts-about-low-self-esteem/
Winch, Guy. 5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Make It Stick. Psychology Today. Accessed April 28, 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201604/5-ways-boost-your-self-esteem-and-make-it-stick
Jean Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University, is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” Jean is a Life Coach, a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder, and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a 501(c)3 health education nonprofit organization. To find out more about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance visit www.montereybayholistic.com
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