What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can feel difficult to change. We might also think of this as self-confidence. Explore more knowledge about self-esteem with Pritish Kumar Halder.
Your self-esteem can affect whether you:
- Like and value yourself as a person
- Can make decisions and assert yourself
- Recognize your strengths
- Feel able to try new or difficult things
- Show kindness towards yourself
- Move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
- Take the time you need for yourself
- Believe you matter and are good enough
- Believe you deserve happiness
See young people’s guides
For me, low self-esteem is the little voice inside my head that says ‘you’re rubbish, you’re fat, what’s the point, you’re not cut out for this, and so on…
What’s it like to have low self-esteem?
Watch Nathan, Hannah, Helen, Rishi, and Georgina talk about their experiences of low self-esteem, including how it feels, what’s helped them, and how their friends and family can help.
What can cause low self-esteem?
The things that affect our self-esteem are different for everyone. Your self-esteem might change suddenly. Or you might have had low self-esteem for a while.
There are lots of things in life that may contribute to low self-esteem. For example:
- Being bullied or abused
- Experiencing prejudice, discrimination, or stigma, including racism
- Losing your job or difficulty finding employment
- Problems at work or while studying
- Physical health problems
- Mental health problems
- Relationship problems, separation, or divorce
- Problems with money or housing
- Worries about your appearance and body image
- Feeling pressure to meet unrealistic expectations, for example through social media
Difficult to change
You might have had some of these experiences. And you might have had difficulties that aren’t listed here. Or there might not be one particular cause.
If you struggle with low self-esteem, it might feel as if making changes will be difficult. But there are things you can try. See our tips to improve your self-esteem for some suggestions.
I thought self-hatred was normal. Everyone wakes up every day and looks in the mirror and thinks ‘yeah, I hate that bit about me, right?
Is low self-esteem a mental health problem?
Low self-esteem isn’t a mental health problem in itself. But mental health and self-esteem can be closely linked.
Some of the signs of low self-esteem can be signs of a mental health problem. This is especially if they last for a long time or affect your daily life. For example:
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Blaming yourself unfairly
- Hating yourself
- Worrying about being unable to do things
Having a mental health problem could also cause you to have low self-esteem. And it might feel harder to cope or take steps to improve your self-esteem if you struggle with your mental health.
If you are worried about your mental health, our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem have information on how to get support.
Ok, team. First things first! We’re going to be talking about how to build confidence and self-esteem and there’s one thing to get clear right off the bat.
Although they’re often used interchangeably, self-confidence and self-esteem are quite different. Think of them like cats and dogs. Both are in the realm of friendly, adorable household animals but very different. Did we just compare self-confidence and self-esteem to our pets? Apparently yes…
Here’s the deal on the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem:
- Self-confidence is the ability to trust (or have confidence) in yourself. This also translates into a broader view of how likely you are to accomplish something. For example, if you train for your track meet, you’ll have more confidence in your ability to succeed.
- Self-esteem, on the other hand, is the ability to place value in yourself, and believe in your overall worth as a human being. If you have high self-esteem you do not fear failure or rejection because you know that your worth is not dependent on those things.
Make sense? Now we just need to learn how to build confidence and self-esteem…keep reading.
First Up, How To Build Confidence
Let’s focus on building that ability to trust yourself to do things, both old and new. These strategies are not rocket science but they will help you recognize your ability to succeed.
But yes, there is a chance this increase in confidence will push you to apply to NASA.
Take It One Step At A Time
As with most things we chat about on the DiveThru blog, change will not come overnight. And believing it will come overnight can cause major frustration, which is def, not the goal.
Instead, get into the habit of doing little things every day that create big changes. And if you have a couple of bad days, don’t get discouraged. There will be plenty of ups and downs. The important thing is to keep moving forward.
Take a lesson from the Tortoise: slow and steady wins the race.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to grow. Trying new things will be scary, but that’s kind of the point.
Try to listen to the lululemon bag and do one thing a day that scares you. That will be a good start. Doing one scary thing per day is perfect because it combines taking it one step at a time and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Here are some small ways to step out of your comfort zone every day: smile at a stranger, try new food, find your destination without using Siri, and tell someone how you feel.
After you’ve done these small things, you’ll realize you survived and will gain the confidence to try bigger things.
Surround Yourself With People Who Believe In You
We are often (or always) our own worst critics. If you’re having trouble developing self-confidence, try to surround yourself with people who are confident in you. You can’t control everything, but you can usually control – to some extent – the people you spend time with. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder ‘s page.
Say goodbye to the people who diminish you or put you down. Instead, stay close to those who build you up and believe in you. Their support will help you realize that you should believe in yourself too.
Do Something That Makes You Happy
Doing something that you love is good for the soul. Whether it’s exercising, making art, or spending time outside, doing something that you’re passionate about just feels good. And it shows! The better you feel about yourself and how you’re spending your time, the more visible that becomes to others around you. Feeling good makes it easier to be confident in yourself and your choices.
So, are you ready to test out our tips on how to be confident? Maybe even start with this one! Do something that makes you happy and then work your way up the list!
Next Up, How To Build Self-Esteem
Ok time to tackle another key element of who we are. We know self-esteem is rooted in the value you place on yourself and your overall worth as a human being. We also know you get to choose what to place that value on. So how do we do that?
We’re gonna unpack that below!
Embrace Yourself As You Are
Self-esteem means recognizing your inherent value as a human being. Not the value of your accomplishments or promotions or grades. Just you. All of you. The way you are.
Now, let’s be real. We’re not expecting you to wake up tomorrow morning and love every single thing about yourself. Embracing yourself will not happen overnight. Instead, spend time getting to know yourself and remember that whomever you are is perfectly ok. You don’t have to be whom people think you should be – your value does not depend on what they think of you.
Stand Up For Yourself
As we may have mentioned, um 3 seconds ago, you deserve to be happy and proud of who you are. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to put you down and make you believe that you aren’t good enough.
Stand up for yourself. Know that you are deserving of love and respect just the way you are.
To be clear, we’re not saying drop the gloves. What we are saying is to make sure you are being treated the way you deserve to be treated. In prioritizing your value, you will start believing it.
It’s a circle: when you have high self-esteem, you stand up for yourself. And when you stand up for yourself, you strengthen your self-esteem.
Notice, And Shift, Your Self-Talk
We all have a voice in our heads. Sometimes it’s supportive and encouraging and super great. A lot of times it’s not. If you want to change your self-talk, start by simply recognizing your thoughts. When is it your nice voice and when is it your mean voice?
Then, one thought at a time, try training your brain to use positive language instead of the negative language that may first pop into your head. Research has shown that talking to yourself in the second or third person is even more effective because it creates psychological distance.
Statements like “Josie, you feel nervous” remove you from stressful situations and allow you to better cope with your emotions. Try to use these strategies to shift your self-talk; use it to build yourself up rather than tearing yourself down.
Learn To Accept Compliments
How many times has this happened to you: someone compliments you and you don’t believe them and you don’t know what to say so you just stand there and, not surprisingly, it becomes this awkward moment and now all you want to do is hide and did we mention awkward??
According to psychologist Guy Winch, one way to boost your self-esteem (and avoid an uncomfortable situation) is to learn to accept those compliments. Just so you know, we think you’re pretty great. And you are completely deserving of any compliments you receive. Instead of brushing them off, try responding with a simple, “thank you”.
As you start accepting compliments, your self-esteem will grow, which will then make it easier to accept more compliments. Another nice little circle of growth.
And Lastly, Here’s What Will Help You Build BOTH!
Like men’s shower products, we went after some 2-in-1 strategies. These will help you focus on your confidence as well as your self-esteem.
Begin A Journaling Practice
Journaling is the best of both worlds: it allows you to build self-confidence and self-esteem.
By writing down and reflecting on the events of the day, journaling builds self-confidence. Write about how you stepped out of your comfort zone. Write about how you survived. When you take the time to reflect on your own experiences, you’ll be able to build on them and see your self-confidence grow. Plus, you’ll be able to apply what you learned to future situations, so you’ll be going in with more knowledge and ultimately, more self-confidence.
Journaling also builds self-esteem because, by writing down your thoughts and exploring your emotions, you are giving yourself a judgment-free zone. In this safe space, you can grow to love yourself and know your worth. You’ll realize that, no matter the outcome of the event, interview, or exam, you are a valued human being.
By using the Dive Thru app, you’ll be able to get the introspection and reflection you need, all while connecting with your thoughts on paper. Try it out today by downloading the Dive Thru app!
Let’s cut to the chase. Being kind to yourself is hella important. When you practice self-compassion, you create a safe space where you feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes.
A judgment-free space to grow builds confidence and trust within yourself. Plus, when you inevitably do make mistakes, you’ll realize that you’re deserving of kindness anyways. Despite your achievements, rejections, or status, you are deserving of love and kindness.
Lead by example and show yourself love every single day