What is Self Esteem?
Self-esteem means feeling good about yourself.
People with self-esteem:
• Feeling loved and accepted
• take pride in what they do
• believe in yourself
People with low self-esteem:
• feeling bad
• are hard on themselves
• think they are not good enough
Where does self-esteem come from?
Parents, teachers and others. The people in our lives can influence how we think about ourselves. When they focus on what’s good about us, we feel good. If they are patient when we make mistakes, we learn to accept ourselves. When we have friends and get along well, we feel loved.
But when adults abuse rather than praise, it’s hard to feel good about yourself. Bullying and malicious teasing by siblings, or peers can also erode self-esteem. Hard words can stay and become part of your thinking. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The voice in your own head. What you say to yourself plays a big part in how you feel about yourself. The idea of “I’m such a loser” or “I’ll never make friends forever” hurts your self-esteem.
There are other ways to think about the same things. “I didn’t win this time – but maybe next time.” “Maybe I can make some friends.” That voice has more hope. It helps you feel good about yourself. And it could be true.
Sometimes the voice in our head is based on ugly words said by others. Or in the bad times we went through. Sometimes the voice is just that we are hard on ourselves. But we can change the voice in ours. We can learn to think better about ourselves.
Learn things. We feel good when we learn to read, add, draw or build. Exercise, play music, write an essay, ride a bike. Cover the table, wash the car. Help a friend run the dog. Everything you learn that makes you feel good about yourself is an opportunity. Step back and see what you can do. Let it make you happy.
But sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. We do not accept that what we do is good enough. When we think, “It’s not very good,” “It’s not perfect,” or “I can’t do it well enough,” we miss the opportunity to develop self-esteem.
What if my self-esteem is low?
There are things you can do to make yourself feel better. It’s never too late. Here are some tips to improve your self-esteem:
Be with people who treat you well. Some people act to tear you down. Others uplift you by what they say and do. Learn to tell the difference. Pick friends who will help you feel good. Find people with yourself. Be that kind of friend to others.
Tell yourself useful things. Adjust the voice in your head. Is it too critical? Are you being too hard on yourself For a few days, write down some of the things you say to yourself. Look at your list. Would you say these things to a good friend? Otherwise, rewrite it in a way that is true, fair, and kind. Read your new sentences often. Do this until it becomes more of a habit to think of it that way.
Accept what is not perfect. It is always good to do your best. But if you think you have to be perfect, then nothing can make you feel worse. Accept your best. Make yourself feel good. Ask for help when you cannot overcome a need for perfection.
Set goals and work on them. If you want to feel good about yourself, do things that are right for you. You might want to eat healthier, be fitter, or study better. Set a goal. Then make a plan for how to do it. Stick to your plan. Track your progress. Be proud of what you have done so far. Tell yourself, “I followed my training plan for 45 minutes each day. I feel great. I know I can keep going.”
Focus on what’s going well. Are you so used to talking about topics that they are all you see? It is easy to delve into what is wrong. But when you don’t balance what is good, you feel bad. The next time you complain about yourself or your day, catch up. Instead, find something that went well.
Give and help. Giving is one of the best ways to build self-esteem. Teach a classmate, help clean up your neighborhood, and go for a good cause. Help at home or at school. Make a habit of being kind and fair. Do things that make you proud of the kind of person you are. When you do things that make a difference (even a small one), your self-esteem grows.