Many people develop their self-esteem from the influence of outside sources: material possessions, job status, or achievements. If there is a change in circumstances, particularly related to financial and employment status, it may have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem.
When this happens, it is more important than ever to find self-esteem internally. We must say to ourselves: “I'm OK just because I'm me,” and find self-fulfilment from personal challenges that are not dependent on other's judgments or fulfilling societal expectations of who we need to be.
One of the ways we hinder our self-worth is by allowing fear into our lives that tells us we will not succeed. We cannot always be looking to see if we “measure up” to outside standards or comparing ourselves. We would do better to set our own standards.
Factors associated with self-esteem are one's self-confidence, sense of identity, self-expression, assertiveness, and relationships.
Our confidence is related to our self-esteem and the praise and encouragement obtained from the world around us. We can build our self-confidence by learning to give ourselves internal praise and encouragement: “I can do better,” “I do look good,” “I am capable.”
Through this expression, we get to know ourselves from the inside; by asking others how they see us, we get to know ourselves from the outside. So we acquire a self-image and a sense of identity which can be realistically adjusted by the same methods as we grow, develop and change.
Self-confidence can also develop through learning to recognize and be comfortable with expressing our feelings. In the same way, we need to become sensitive to the feelings of others.
We become assertive and confident when we learn to state in an acceptable, non-aggressive manner our rights, opinions, knowledge, desires and requests, without putting others down. In relationships, we need to learn how to relate in an active and positive way as well.
To increase your self-confidence you can do the following things:
1. Think about a successful accomplishment, or an achievement you had in the last six months — tell someone close to you.
2. Pair off with a friend and spend five minutes telling each other all the things you like about each other.
3. Think about who you are striving to become or something you wish to improve, and then take positive steps in that direction.
4. Imagine the face of someone who has put you down in some way in the past and say, “No matter what you say or do to me, I'm still a valuable person.”
5. Write a letter to yourself describing your assets. Include the positive characteristics you would like to develop and negative behavior you would like to change.
6. Avoid applying negative labels to yourself like clumsy, stupid, weak, etc. Use positive affirmations instead by saying, “I am competent and capable.”
7. Listen to positive statements on a tape while relaxing. Over time, your subconscious will believe them.
8. Avoid using words which indicate unrealistic demands and expectations, such as “must,” “should,” “have to,” or “ought to.” Instead, substitute a statement such as “I would like to…” or “I would rather…” Strong negative feelings lessen by simply changing the language you use.
9. Avoid describing things, events, or their consequences as “terrible,” “horrible,” “awful” or “catastrophic.” None of these words apply to trivial daily hassles. Instead, use words or phrases like “unpleasant,” “unfortunate,” “a nuisance” or “I don't like it.”
10. Add to your list of achievements every week.
11. Find activities, sports or hobbies that you enjoy, and indulge in them regularly. Enjoyment and pleasure contribute to your self-worth.
12. Live in the present rather than worrying about what has happened in the past or planning for tomorrow.
13. Avoid comparing yourself to others. You are unique and special. You should accept yourself and love who you are.
14. Consciously think and do things which generate feelings of self-love and acceptance instead of thinking of yourself as inferior or inadequate. Self-care is an important part of developing self-esteem.
15. Enjoy compliments and acknowledgments from others. Don't invalidate their positive feelings and thoughts about you.
Having a sense of self-worth and self-esteem is essential to one's ability to feel good and to get the most out of life.
Tell us in the comments, what steps will YOU choose to increase your self-confidence?
Natalia is a staff writer at Health and Education Development (HND) covering health, families, and education news. She has also worked as a health and fitness writer who has contributed to numerous publications.