“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Low self esteem is like an invisible bully you unleash on yourself.
To kick its butt – if you ever want to have peace – you have to recognize it and see the fear behind it.
Then you have to look inside yourself and see the good, and maybe accept that there’s some bad, and then just accept that the fear is unfounded.
Building Self Confidence to Defeat Low Self Esteem
One exercise I love for improving self esteem is writing a pleasure list.
Think about what makes you happy, and what makes you smile – then write these happy things down.
Examples are loved ones, pets, places you enjoy, hobbies or sports you like, your favorite flowers, or a favorite funny TV show.
Keep the list handy, so when you start to feel down or you’re having a day that makes you feel like your self esteem is nonexistent, you can pull out the list and reread it to bring your spirits up.
If you’re fighting depression, it can be hard to think of things that make you happy, so in that case, add a couple things you do to help others to your list if it feels hard to think of anything that makes you smile.
Self empowerment and self confidence begin with removing, or strengthening, the parts that feel small and weak within yourself, so you can create a strong self image to use as a healthy foundation for building a healthier, happier future.
Your self image creates the way you look at and measure not only yourself, but also your role as a friend, spouse, parent, employee, and every other role you have in this life.
A Bad Self Image Puts Healthy Relationships at Risk
If your self image is negative – if you lack self love and self respect – it puts you at risk of ending up unhappy and lonely – no matter how many people are around you or love you.
Your self image is how you see yourself and your role in this life – and it can be incredibly hard to change if you have a negative sense of self because it is our natural reaction to (generally external) events that happen in our lives.
No one else can develop a more positive sense of self esteem for you, it requires determination and effort on your part, but it is worth the effort.
When you begin to increase self confidence, it feels like a window is opening inside of you, letting in sunshine and positivity.
(It’s not a real window – obviously – it’s just an emotional sense of well-being.)
A poor self image doesn’t blossom into full fledged self confidence overnight – and it is unlikely to happen in a big, life changing “zap.”
Your self image most likely didn’t get damaged from a single tiny incident, so it takes more than a single tiny incident to restore.
Depression Is Only One of the Dangers of Poor Self Esteem
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, there are several consequences of poor self-esteem:
Problems developing friendships
Problem in romantic relationships
Impaired academic performance
Poor performance at work
Heightened vulnerability to chemical dependency
Avoiding the pain of these situations can give you a pretty powerful reason to want to increase your level of self respect, but knowing you need a healthy self image doesn’t tell you how to build confidence so you can get one.
Luckily, there are tools to help you recognize unhealthy patterns and to improve your self confidence.
Tools for Developing a Healthy Self Image
You can use positive self talk, journaling, and visualization to help yourself from within, in addition to asking for help from others, to help increase your willpower and to keep you focused on building a better self image.
Positive self talk: Give yourself a break! Instead of saying negative, self-deprecating things about yourself, like, “I’m such a clutz,” or “I’m so stupid.”
Focus on the things you do well – and make a point to say something about your positive aspects, at least inside your mind, and never speak the negative.
If you catch yourself thinking or saying negative things about yourself, make a conscious decision to stop.
Journaling: Use the same approach to daily journaling that was mentioned above, but instead of speaking the positive words about yourself, write them – even if it’s only one positive sentence every day.
If you’re really depressed and down on yourself, to where you can’t think of one positive thing to say, you can seek help from a loved one or a professional, or find some positive self image quotes and write them in your journal.
Visualization: Visualization is a powerful tool in building a positive self image, or anything you want out of life.
You can use the positive things you write in your journal as the basis for visualization, or use a guided meditation, or plan out your own self guided visualization to increase your self confidence.
External help: While asking for help can be the hardest thing to do when you’re self image is damaged, it is a powerful tool if you feel able to ask for help – and there is always help available if you reach out for it.
Help can come in the form of a loved one who helps you see the good in yourself, or a professional counselor.
There are so many reasons to take action and avoid the risk of depression and loneliness that comes from having a damaged self image, but the real and best reason is that you will feel better if you build a healthy sense of self and increase your self confidence.