9 Tips for Better Self-EsteemLow self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on. ~Maxwell Maltz
You know you’re clever and capable and can achieve great things. You have dreams of going places and doing things. Incredible, fulfilling things. But you’re not reaching for those goals. You’re not striving to achieve your dreams.
Something is stopping you.
It’s like you have a hand brake on. No matter how far down on the accelerator you press, you’re not going anywhere.
You want to go. Part of you knows you’re capable of going. But another part is preventing you from taking action.
Let Me Tell You a Secret
I have a secret. It’s a secret that a lot of people share, so it’s not special or unique.
It’s the knowledge that I’m not good enough.
- Not clever enough or creative enough to reach people or make a difference in other people’s lives
- Not a good enough writer
- Not a good enough parent
- Not a strong enough person
It’s the shackle of low self-esteem, and it stopped me for a long time. It stopped me from daring to try. Daring to risk. Daring to write.
Daring to live.
It’s those insidious thoughts that wriggle out and wrap themselves around my mind.
- “You’re not worthy.”
- “You’re not capable.”
- “You’re not as good as the others.”
I used to listen and do nothing. I used to let it control me and prevent me from living my dreams.
But I’ve learned a few tricks, and now I don’t listen to it any more. It’s not that I don’t hear it, it’s just that it has less power.
I’ve learned how to release the hand brake — at least a little. Enough that I’ve started moving towards my dreams.
And you can too.
Here are nine ways to overcome low self-esteem that helped me.
1. Accept It
This is a simple but challenging strategy. It’s easy to say “sit with it and accept it”, but it’s harder to do.
The thing to remember is that when you fight something, you’re giving it power. When someone starts a conflict, and you argue back, you fuel their anger.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to deflate a conflict is to agree with the other person. You say, “You’re right!” (even if they’re only right about something small). Their anger deflates and they have nowhere to go.
The same is true of accepting low self-esteem. So, when you feel it, close your eyes and look inwards. What do you feel? Where in your body is the feeling? What does it look like?
Pretend you’re a scientist, examining your own body. Get curious and observe, but don’t judge.
If you do this for a minute or two you’ll feel a sense of calm acceptance and the power will deflate. With practice you’ll begin to think “that’s just my self-esteem” and be able to move on.
2. Nurture Yourself
Make an active decision to nurture your body with good food and exercise that you enjoy. Nurture your soul by doing the things you love and being around those people who make your feel good.
Nurture your emotions by searching out people and entertainment that make you laugh. Taking action to love yourself in this way will boost your self-esteem.
3. Take Charge Of Your Thoughts
You can control your mind just as you control your body. You know those truly crazy thoughts that pop into your mind from time to time — the ones you dismiss because they’re really wacky? We all have those.
The thing is that we set the bar too low — we should also be dismissing the thoughts that are more plausible but unhelpful. Those self-doubting thoughts.
The next time you get one of those thoughts, stop and think “Thanks Mind”, and move on to a more positive thought.
If you find yourself thinking “I can’t do this”, thank your mind for the thought and then consciously think to yourself “HOW can I do this?”
4. Pay Attention To Triggers
Consider whether certain things trigger your negative thoughts and feelings.
If you regularly feel really low self-esteem doing certain activities or in specific situations, then take steps to stop doing those things or being around those people.
If you can’t stop doing those things immediately, put plans in place to stop. For example, if your job gets you down and you can’t leave immediately, put an exit strategy in place. Start an active campaign to change jobs.
Taking the steps to get your resume updated, registering with employment agencies and doing weekly job searches will give you a feeling of control and improve your self-esteem.
If certain people have a negative influence on your life, minimize your contact with them. If you have to see them, ensure you look after yourself after an encounter.
5. Practice Being Calm
Find a calming technique, or a range of techniques, that work for you and practice them regularly. There are heaps to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that fits.
- Tai chi
- Emotional freedom technique (EFT)
The list is endless, really. Even if you’ve tried some of these before, consider them again. Trying them in a different form (like a walking meditation) or having a different instructor can improve your experience.
6. Be In The Here And Now
Whenever I get overwhelmed by the path I’ve set and start convincing myself I’m not good enough, I focus on what I’m doing right now.
So, just say you decided you wanted to run a marathon. When you start to feel daunted by the amount of training involved, worried about your physical limitations or fitness and then get all freaked out “because-it’s-so-much-work-how-will-I-ever-get-there …”
Stop and think, “But right now I don’t have to do that. Right now I just need to be able to walk around the block without getting puffed out.”
When you’re overwhelmed with a daunting project, stop and think about the immediate, small step (pardon the pun) that needs to be taken now.
Focus on the piece of the project that you can achieve now, and have faith that you’ll be ready for each step as it arrives.
7. Start A Self-Appreciation Diary
You know the good old gratitude diary that everyone says you should have? Well, this is similar, but different.
At the end of each day, instead of listing three things you’re grateful for, list three (or more) things that you’re proud of — things you’ve done well and can congratulate yourself for.
Practice patting yourself on the back to reinforce the things you’re proud of, and you’ll start to feel stronger and more competent.
8.Dominate Your Destiny
Invest the time to work out what you want from life, and start putting plans in place to make this happen. Putting plans in place and working towards them is empowering. You’ll feel a sense of purpose and achievement.
Sure you’ll experience setbacks. When this happens, amend your plans and move on. Don’t change your plans because of setbacks. Change your timeframes or your pathway, but not your destination.
9. Question the “Signs”
You know how we’ll often say things like, “I wonder if this is a sign from the universe that I shouldn’t be doing this?” But we only wonder this when we’re already in self-doubt.
- If we’re driving home and we get a flat tire, we don’t wonder if it’s a sign we should go somewhere else. We change our course, but not our destination.
- If we’re shopping for dinner ingredients and the supermarket is out of stock of a key item, we don’t wonder if it’s a sign that we shouldn’t eat. We change our plans and make something else for dinner.
It’s the same in life. You can change your life, even if you have low self-esteem. Because there’s one key thing I’ve discovered:
You don’t need high self-esteem to achieve great things.
You don’t need high self-esteem to dream big. Anyone can dream. You don’t need high self-esteem to put a plan in place and start taking action. Anyone can prepare a strategy and make a commitment.
You don’t need high self-esteem to achieve your goals. Anyone can follow through when they have a plan.
All you need is to start dreaming of the life you want to lead.
Start dreaming and planning for the great things you’re going to achieve. Take the handbrake off your life. Go and dream … and plan … and take action.
I know that you can do it.
And so do you.