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13 Tips to Building Self Esteem

Photo by Kevin Russ
People with high self-esteem are the most desired, and desirable people in society. ~Brian Tracy

Can you recall the last time you were in an emotional slump, such that your beliefs in yourself and your abilities were slipping away? How can we maintain the beliefs we have in ourselves, such that we can live with less anxiety and more joy?

Just imagine the things we would accomplish if we had the belief that we could do absolutely anything, especially if we could maintain a level of self-esteem that no circumstance could shake. What would you be doing?

Self-esteem comes from positive self-imaging, and it is something that we proactively build for ourselves. Self-esteem doesn’t happen while we wait passively. When we leave it up to external factors, we build our self-esteem on sandy ground. What we want is a rock-solid foundation, and this only comes from building it within.

Throughout our daily routines, our minds are very good at picking up all the things we’ve done wrong, and it makes sure we are aware of them. With such a counter-productive force at work, we can benefit greatly by regularly working towards establishing and building our own self image.

I’ve learned that the way we view ourselves directly affects everything we do. People with high self-esteem get along easily with others, rarely get sick, and seem to have high energy reserves. Also, their high level of self-esteem corresponds with their high level of productivity, capacity of happiness and state of well-being.

A Personal Story…

As a style coach, I (Jae) am my own boss – which is a blessing and a curse. Without a manager to report to, deadlines, or set schedules, I am responsible for enforcing these on myself – intrinsically. I must do these things if I want to achieve my professional goals, even though it can feel like a burden at times.

Last month, after several previous hectic months of intense work, I had fallen into a lull. Maybe you can relate with me… It started with a few missed to-do items, then failure to deliver on a few commitments. I could feel the self disappointment building inside. I felt stressed.

I woke up each morning with the thought of making up for the previous day’s failures, only to find myself failing once again. Iin this vicious cycle my work started to accumulate, and for days I needed to push back on obligations and commitments.

I felt the grip on my self-esteem slipping, and was now scrambling to hang on to the remaining scraps of what was left of it. I kept making excuses and rationalizations for why I wasn’t getting stuff done, and as my integrity waned, I started to lose faith in myself and procrastinate even more.

This was me a month ago.

It has been a beautiful learning experience being able to observe myself in this state of mind, and ultimately learning how I overcame it.


A Closer Look

Self-esteem = how much we like ourselves.

How much we like ourselves = level of self-dominion.

What is self-dominion? It is our ability to get ourselves to actually do, what we want ourselves to do; in other words, self-discipline and self-trust.

A person who has dominion over themselves has self-integrity – staying true to their words and commitments.

Every time we fail to listen to our inner voice, and do not take action in something that we need to, we lose trust with ourselves and our abilities. This lack of self faith continues to spiral downwardly as we flounder to fulfill more commitments.


Turning Point: How to Start Building Self-Esteem


Photo: Mike Bailey-Gates

Most of us are familiar with the concept of momentum. When we do something well, regardless of how small the task, we build positive energy and momentum, which can fuel other tasks on our list.

For example, if you have just washed all the dishes, mowed the lawn, and made calls to all of your clients, it will be easier for you – psychologically – to quickly move on to and complete the next task. You will have built the momentum necessary to getting things done, and you are simply riding on that energy and building on previous successes.

On the flip side, when we put off what we want to do or know we should do, we lose momentum, and more importantly, we lose trust in ourselves.

Another way to view this is to pretend we have a personal assistant. The better they perform on the tasks assigned to them, the more confident we will feel towards their abilities to handle responsibility. Gradually, we will assign more important tasks to them as trust is established. We now have faith in their abilities to follow through. We trust them.

Conversely, if our assistant procrastinates and misses deadlines regularly, we will lose faith in their abilities to follow through. We stop trusting them. We stop giving them tasks (at least the important ones), and we start to look for a replacement assistant.

Now, think of ourselves as our own assistant. The more we follow through with actions, the more confidence and trust we’ll establish with ourselves. We will then gain faith in our ability to take on more tasks.

The small wins with ourselves, directly affect how much we like ourselves. Each time we successfully follow through, the experience becomes a building block towards a more positive self image.

13 Tips to Building Self-Esteem

In order to build your self-esteem, you must establish yourself as the master of your own life. Every single minute of your life is a moment you can change for the better.

If you’ve been delaying some action for half the day, don’t dwell on it or beat yourself up for it, shift your focus to the present moment and what you can do right now. Start with the smallest or the most important task.


Photo: Vanessa Paxton

The following are tips to help build continuous upward momentum towards higher self esteem.

1. Start Small

Start with something you can do immediately and easily. When we start with small successes, we build momentum to gain more confidence in our abilities. Each completed task, regardless of how small, is a building block towards a more confident you. What are some small actions you can take immediately to demonstrate that you are capable of achieving goals you’ve set for yourself? For example, clean your desk, organize your papers, or pay all your bills.

2. Create a Compelling Vision

Use the power of your imagination. Create an image of yourself as the confident and self-assured person you aspire to become. When you are this person, how will you feel? How will others perceive you? What does your body language look like? How will you talk? See these clearly in your mind’s eye, with your eyes closed. Feel the feelings, experience being and seeing things from that person’s perspective. Practice doing this for 10 minutes every morning. Put on music in the background that either relaxes you, or excites you. When you are done, write a description of this person and all the attributes you’ve observed.

3. Socialize

Get out of the house or setup a lunch date with a friend. Socializing with others will give us opportunities to connect with other people, and practice our communication and interpersonal skills.

4. Do Something that Scares You

As with all skills, we get better with practice and repetition. The more often we proactively do things that scare us, the less scary these situations will seem, and eventually will be rid of that fear.

5. Do Something You Are Good At

What are you especially good at or enjoy doing? Regularly doing things that you are good at reinforces your belief in your abilities and strengths. I (Tina) can be very efficient with completing errands or administrative work. Whenever I have a few hours filled with ways in which I’ve maximized my time, I feel highly productive and this boosts the confidence have in my abilities as an organized and efficient person.

6. Set Goals

According to a study done at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals. And the people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetime as people who don’t. By setting goals that are clear and actionable, you have a clear target of where you want to be. When you take action towards that goal, you’ll build more confidence and self-esteem in your abilities to follow through.

7. Help Others Feel Good About Themselves

Help somebody or teach them something. When you help other people feel better about themselves and like themselves more, it will make you feel good about yourself. See what you can do to make others feel good or trigger them to smile. Maybe giving them a genuine compliment, helping them with something or telling them what you admire about them.

8. Get Clarity on Life Areas

Get clarity on the life area that needs the most attention. Your self-esteem is the average of your self-concept in all the major areas of your life. Write down all the major categories of your life, e.g., health, relationships, finance, etc. Then rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in each area. Work on the lowest numbered category first, unless they are all even. Each area affects the other areas. The more you build up each area of your life, the higher your overall self-esteem.

9. Create a Plan

Having a goal alone won’t do much. Get clarity on your action items. One of the biggest reasons people get lazy is because they don’t have a plan to achieve their goals. They don’t know what the next step is and start to wander off randomly. When you’re baking a cake, it’s a lot easier to follow a set of clear instructions, than randomly throwing ingredients together.

10. Get Motivated

Read something inspirational, listen to something empowering, talk to someone who can uplift our spirits, who can motivate us to become a better person, to live more consciously, and to take proactive steps towards creating a better life for ourselves and our families.

11. Get External Compliments

As funny as this point suggests, go find a friend or family member and ask them “What do you like about me?” “What are my strengths?” or “What do you love about me?” We will often value other people’s opinions more than our own. We are the best at beating ourselves up for things not done well, and we are the worst at recognizing what we’ve done well in. Hearing from another person our strengths and positive qualities helps to build a more positive image of ourselves.

12. Affirmations & Introspection

Use affirmations, but in the right way. Some people think that when they’re in a slump, using positive affirmations will help them get out of it. I love affirmations, but I’ve realized you have to use them in the right way. Sitting on your couch and saying “I am highly motivated and productive” does nothing. Say something like “I am sitting here being very unproductive right now, is this the ideal me? What would be my best self?” Your affirmations have to be the TRUTH. Once you’re honest, take the first step towards doing the thing, no matter how small.

13. No More Comparisons

Stop comparing yourself to other people. Low-self esteem stems from the feeling of being inferior. For example, if you were the only person in the world, do you think you could have low-self esteem? Self-esteem only comes into the picture when there are other people around us and we perceive that we are inferior. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing. Accept that it’ll serve you more to just go down your own path at your own pace rather than to compare yourself. Pretend you’re starting over and begin immediately with the smallest step forward.

Self-esteem comes from self-dominion. The more power you have in getting yourself to take the right actions, the more self-esteem you will have. Your level of self-esteem affects your happiness and everything you do.

** What did you do the last time you fell into a slump? What has been affective for you in developing your self-esteem? Share your thoughts and stories in the comment section. See you there!

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About the author

Jae Song is a men's style consultant who writes articles for, a men's style development company. He also does 1-on-1 image consultations, contact him via his website for any style-related needs. To read more articles by Jae, subscribe to his blog.

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63 thoughts on 13 Tips to Building Self Esteem

  1. Great Post!

    This remindeds me of a book I just read. “The Magic of Thinking Big”
    Most of the same principles are used.

    I think this is great! Feel good about your self and you’re more creative, confident and happier.


  2. Self-esteem is so important, and yet we often overlook it when trying to figure out why our life isn’t “working” for us. I loved reading about Jae’s story. I think those of us who are our own bosses can relate.

    I think not comparing ourselves is one the best things we can do. And some affirmations in the mirror are great too!

  3. Nice, thorough, and well-thought out post.

    I would say that one of the most important rules is “impress yourself first.”

    When you externalize it and need to hear it from other people, you set yourself up for failure. If for no other reason, because of the rule no news is good news. People are quick to tell you when you’re broken, but not when you’re awesome.

    Another rule that’s not obvious is “confidence before competence.” Some folks think confidence will come once they get good at something. Well, Michael Jordan didn’t start out awesome. He did have confidence and he believed in himself. Even more so than a little engine that could kind of way. It’s exactly that confidence that leads to competence.

    … and rather than compete with others … “compete with yourself.” When you compete with others, you’re a threat and folks will knock you down. When you compete with yourself, other people lift you up. Everybody likes to see the underdog make the most of what they got. There’s a little movie (based on reality) on this, but I forget what it is. That little lesson is an interesting one though. Raise your own bar and be YOUR best. (which gets us back to — impress yourself first)

  4. Another part of self esteem lies in understanding where your values are (in regards to self-worth). If your values rely on the results of your actions then you are always going to be prone to feeling lacking at some stage.

    If your self-worth relies on simply what you do and not external elements then you will be in a much better place to maintain a high level of self-esteem.

  5. Nice tips, thanks Jae and Tina :)

    Frankly, I’m also looking forward a Chinese version of your posts, haha :)

  6. great help, especially at this time of the year when many are depressed due to over worrying about the economy and high pressures of everyday life. Some of the best advice I’ve heard lately was someone who said they were feeling pressues mounting leading to panic attacks and a friend told them to stop trying to be so perfect…just for now…just allow yourself to be average…learn to know we are not perfect and that’s ok.

  7. I think self-esteem is something we can develop over time. It’s like a muscle we have to slowly build up by flexing it repeatedly! We start just with an intention to do one thing – and then actually follow through. And then we do it with something bigger – and follow through. We build up our will and our self-determination, and all of that flows towards self-esteem, knowing that we can depend on ourselves to get us where we want to go.

    Great food for thought in this article!

  8. Jay

    I think you saved the best for last. As a society we are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should look, how much money we should have, the clothes we should wear etc. It is very easy to fall into the “Keep up with the Jones Trap”. Stay present, be happy with the way you are now- the future is simply an illusion.

  9. My 13 year old daughter is near me as I read this. I so wish she could read this herself and understand. Her self esteem wavers sometimes, but so does mine.

    For now I need to be more focused on being the example rather than teaching by preaching.

    My favorite Think Simple post to date. THANKS!

  10. Robert Jenfers

    Hi, I’m not sure if you have time to read this, but it’s worth a try, I’ve been following this blog for awhile and learned so many interesting things, however it was this post that struck me to comment.

    You see, I’m in high school right now, and I’m going to be frank, my self-esteem is pretty down, not rock bottom, but enough to make me worry.

    Your list is great, it gave me many ideas to pick up my slack, but I just have one question, doesn’t number 2 (create a compelling vision) and the last one (don’t compare) kind of conflict? I’m not trying to criticize or nitpick, it’s just I can highly relate to those two points. In class, I day dream at times, of my most frequent thoughts is of me the way I want to see myself be. A vision of me I wish I could see myself in, a confident guy whose simply living life, one who doesn’t strain when talking, who doesn’t speak nervously, or one who can do things without over stressing. I try to become this person, but every time I fail, am I comparing myself to myself?

    For example, I have a girl friend, she’s as innocent as me (meaning our first real relationship) but as of now, I’m not sure if I’m “whipped,” my friends tell it to me all the time, we make jokes about it here and there, and even she thinks I’m “whipped,” just in a “cute” way, not in a you’re my bitch way, she states.

    Thing is, I do feel whipped I feel I have no control in this relationship, I’m just waiting for her to make the move, constantly I think about her being with the confident me, who can look at her and give her something more than a peck on the lips, but an intimate kiss without weird looks on our faces.

    However I could never pull it off, yet I still dream of the day it would come. I read your relationship post and remember you stating how relationships cant work if you only constantly see a different vision in your head, one that isn’t happening now, but you still have scenes of it happening in your mind.

    Point is, should I keep this vision and strive for it? Or stop comparing myself to someone I’m not? This post really gave me the aspirations to take back my heart, mind, and self-esteem. Just wanted to thank you, it may have been a “right time at the right place thing” but I’m sure it’s another experience for me to learn from.

    P.S that’s not my real name, I rather not have someone I know read this, :/ sorry, that’s my low self-esteem there talking,

    On the side note, we’ve been going 6 months strong. :)

  11. Pete

    Alone again for the holidays, it easy to get funky feelings. When it rains it pours, right? WHAT NEXT? Glancing at the ceiling a couple of nights ago, there’s a water spot forming…clearly a leak in the attic. SIGH…I’ll check it out tomorrow, I think. Then at 11:00 PM I declare (to myself) I can’t ignore this until tomorrow! Up in the attic I go, flashlight in hand. Crawling to the farthest recesses-naturally- through, under and over rafters with an old motorcycle helmet on to save my skull from the nails protruding from the roof, digging away at loose insulation, walla! The “spot” and the leaking water pipe, drip drip drip… Back out I crawl, even getting stuck at one point, claustrophobia setting in. Hmmm, now what? Up again, with a pan and towels…a different, better route this time. Situated the best it can be at that time with what I had available, I extricate myself once more and, soaked in sweat, itching up a storm, I’m the king of the world!
    I explore copper pipe repair on the internet and gain enough confidence to tackle the repair on my own. (Has anyone called a plumber these days? This would be a $300 job) So bright & early today, I’m back up with the gatorBITE elbow joint replacement, pipe cutter, sandpaper, etc. Bring it on! Maybe I’ll replace the A/C ducts while up there, yuck yuck. Uh oh…I missed that adjoining T connection with the 1/2″ pipe branching off to who knows where. Back to the drawing board, oh well. So today I proceeded to repair a broken sprinkler head and then fertilized the entire yard with weed & feed. (South Florida-sorry folks…it’s 80 degrees) The moral: As I sat in the hot tub assessing the pipe dilemma tonight, I conjured a solution to the repair and, challenging as it will be, I’m confident it’ll work. And tomorrow I’ll be making unplanned calls on several seniors I assist through the week through a Faith In Action charity organization. Odds are they’re alone so I’ll tell em they’re thought of, maybe stop by and say hi.
    I feel much better now…everything in this latest offering makes such good sense. Thank You!

  12. Great tips, Tina and Jae Song.
    – I especially like your first point, it means big success always start with small successes;
    – your fourth point, it means a brave person is the one who can overcome his/her fear;
    – your sixth point, it means every success begins with dreams/goals.
    – your seventh point, I remember a quote : “You become successful by helping others become successful.”
    – your ninth point, I mostly don’t agree with the statement. I think they don’t exactly have a plan, I prefer a statement that said they don’t dare to do their own plan.
    Thanks for sharing these. :)

  13. Very well articulated! “Do something that scares you” has always been my personal favorite in beating fear and improving confidence – that and “Act as if it were impossible to fail”

    I have touched upon few of the techniques for gaining self confidence and boosting self esteem in my website as well.

    Thanks for sharing

  14. Point number 4: Do Something that Scares You

    This is an important point. By conquering our fears on a regular basis, we will gradually be more confident of our abilities and in turn help us to build up our self esteem.

    Personal Development Blogger

  15. Robert Jenfer

    Sometimes we have visions of ourselves that are not our true selves. When you think that you will find yourself out there you will be hanging your hat on bought and borrowed beliefs.

    You were born with the belief in you and instantly you have outside forces trying to draw you towards how you “should” be. Blue for boys, pink for girls, trucks, dolls, art, or karate. Now let’s keep up with the Jones. Listen to this, wear this, be this. ON and ON.

    Stop comparing yourself to somebody you are not. I will soon be 41 and I am just figuring some of this out.

  16. I really like your post, and though I write about leadership including how to create trust, you really nailed the connection between creating trust between people and trust within yourself. Thanks :-)

    This is even a bit embarrassing, cause in my language (Danish) self esteem is called “self trust” (if translated in fragments).

    Great work, keep it coming :-)

  17. Nice article, I can see myself in it. I am in the same boat, being self-employed and hosting a life coaching website. My main challenge is that sometimes I have too much on my plate and instead of properly prioritising I get overwhelmed and start to procrastinate which only increases the workload and works on my self-esteem in a negativ way.

    I agree with your tips to increase self-esteem, what works best for me is

    1) Start with something small
    2) Set myself a goal
    3) Set myself a proper task list with priorities

  18. These are great tips for building self esteem and well written article. The area that surprises me to not read much of, is how to look to friends or family for examining your self- esteem. Those other people in your life make a HUGE impact on your self esteem depending on whether they build you up or tear you down. You need to ensure you spend the majority of your time with people who can help and encourage you instead of tear you down.

    This is one of the biggest single contributors to self esteem and cannot be overlooked if this is an area you need to build more of in your life. Relying on others and working with friends on this area is a sure way to build it fast without the frustrations that led to low self esteem in the first place.

  19. forarrogants

    sorry to say this,
    i have totally no self esteem. this is produced out of the people who i love. the people who never accept my wishes, deeds, choices. I’ts the reason why i always keep excusing myself. i have no self esteem and actually i am glad i dont have any. all the people i know with big esteems are arrogant with no feelings what so ever to other peoples feelings, hello!? i have feelings, i have needs…..
    this is who i am: why should i change and become “succesfull” with work and earn loads of money? i just want to feel good in life, i don’t need money, big houses, big fat cars. i hate society because everything is about making money and become succesfull. im saying this because someone has send this link to me.


  20. Great post! I have to show this to a friend of mine that’s been lacking self esteem, maybe it can help her.

    Thanks for writing

  21. @Robert Jenfers: I thought I rather be typing some thoughts about your text than giving one more great opinion in the thread… So here it goes:
    How you’re feeling it’s so natural at your age it’s even scary… I’m 23 now, and I’ve experienced a huge shift this last year, and it has become from the thing or “tool” call it as you want, of going to find yourself… I personally hated when someone spoke about finding yourself… what the hell would that mean?? Well, you’d like to start writing down the image of your best self, what you’d like to become and see if that relates to what you really like. Humans pick up stuff from seeing and hearing others, and those become our strengths and weaknesses, so what you’ve picked up about the confident you, it’s the right way, it’s the way you should become!

    I’m convinced you are as powerful in some areas a many successful people, so go practice those areas. Things that help in improving your self image is, looking yourself at the mirror, mimicking what you’d like when doing a speech, or singing, actually sing! or kissing that girl. Practice kissing her and then look at your face, practice until you can set your sexy, confident and cool smirk after kissing, how knows? practice how you’d like to see it, take photos of yourself if you are doubtful. I’ll tell you man, this applies in all areas in life. It’s kinda painful at first, but it helps objectify your actions, gestures, pace, tone of voice. You’re born with what you have, so just get how your strengths work, and then go analyze them, make them so compelling, that you want to move towards those.

    I’ll give you a few more tips with the girls. They’re lovely, emotional amazing creatures. A woman, specially the really attractive ones are attracted to the qualities of a man who is confident, who don’t look to others, instead he does things that he thinks are the right things. He moves forward without a sign of fear, or self-doubt. Get this: you have to make the first move, and the second, and the third… a man it’s expected to do so!

    Now, I’m not talking about the arrogant, machist kind of male… but the cool, confident and natural one.

  22. forarrogants: sounds to me like you might have become a little jaded. Actually you don’t have to do any of those things. Where are you getting those thoughts from?
    “I have feelings, I have needs…” You don’t have to hate society, it’s not useful for yourself. There’s lots of wealth and goodness around, no matter where you are. Maybe you should become more aware I don’t know.
    If someone hurts your feelings, that’s because they need to do so to feel superior, which actually indicate that they have some issue they should solve, otherwise if they were self-estemed people they wouldn’t need to put you down. Go find other people. And maybe stop thinking about it and take action, sometimes is not taking right action on every baby step what makes us actually worry.

    Happy holidays.

  23. I like #1 Start Small. In fact, I’d like to think of it as Start Easy. That means start by doing something that’s easy, yet important. Personally, I’d like to start my day reading a chapter of a book cos’ it’s extremely easy to achieve.

    It’s important too cos’ I need to read a lot in order to better myself so that I can produce good content on my blog to share with people who visit my blog.



  24. I don’t really see how self esteem leads to self-dominion as you call it. My self esteem is in a great place and has been for a long time, but I’m not good at doing the things I should do unless I like doing them. It’s an entirely different sort of thing to develop. And I’ve seen people who are good at it, but are not so hot with the self esteem.

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