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In all likelihood, you are a better person than you think you are.

Our personal scripts of low self esteem get penned by an overly critical author who doesn’t rely much on real world evidence – in a nutshell – we are much harder on ourselves than we need to be and most of the time the negative thoughts we have about ourselves aren’t accurate.

All people experience low self esteem at times, but these feelings plague some people unreasonably and low self esteem is an unfortunately common characteristic of conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, various physical and mental disabilities and even many physical illnesses.

Low self esteem diminishes personal confidence, reduces your capability to approach and enjoy new life experiences and in many cases, can lead to negative coping behaviors, such as substance abuse or aggression targeted at loved ones, and for those in recovery, low self esteem can too often lead to relapse.

Your low self esteem is unlikely based on an accurate assessment of your character and strengths, it affects your ability to experience happiness in life and it increases the probability of negative behaviors. There’s nothing much good to be said about low self esteem and if you want to change your life for the better – right now – you can do so today by starting with a few simple daily steps to improve your sense of self worth. Read on to find out how!

10 Ways to Improve Your Self Esteem

  1. If you abuse alcohol or drugs, stop today. If you can’t stop, then get some help towards achieving the goal. The abuse of drugs and alcohol results in depressed overall mood and often in behaviors that we don’t feel proud of – and overcoming substance abuse can be a huge self esteem booster. 1
  2. Make sure you get regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous or taxing and it should be something you enjoy because if you can stick to a regular exercise routine you’ll experience lasting mood and outlook benefits almost from the get-go. Get your heart rate pumping for half an hour or so and you’ll relieve stress and boost your mood for hours after the fact. Once you’re already feeling good you are less likely to start up with negative self thoughts and to get hung up in the familiar patterns of low self esteem. As an added benefit, regular exercise won’t only make you feel better on the inside, it’ll make you look better on the outside; and looking great can’t help but improve anyone’s self esteem a little bit!
  3. Make a list of some of your favorite leisure time activities (reading, hiking, going to movies, etc.). If you’re like a lot of people then you don’t spend as much time as you should doing things you enjoy most. A great way to start feeling better about yourself is to start enjoying life more, so make a commitment to spend more time each day doing what brings you pleasure. Why not start today?
  4. Tackle that task that’s been weighing on you. When you start feeling down and useless it’s easy to get discouraged and push off those dreaded tasks that need your attention (like doing your taxes or organizing the closet). Take the initiative and force yourself to get one of these jobs done today. You’ll feel a load off your mind and you’ll feel good about yourself for accomplishing a needed task. We’ve all got things that need doing – so pick one and get it out of the way today.
  5. Clean your living space. Coming home to a cluttered and messy house can be depressing and can result in feelings which reinforce a sense of low self worth. You are a great person and you should live in a beautiful space!  Take some time to clean and organize your living space so that homecomings feel good and make your home a place you can be proud of and that reflects your personal style and sense of self.
  6. Get rid of ‘should’ and ‘must’ from your self vocabulary. The world is never as black and white as you perceive it to be from an outlook of low self esteem. Turn ruminations like “I should be as slim and fit as my friend from college…I’m such a fat loser” into celebrations about what’s positive in life. For example, “It would be great to have the fabulous body of my friend from college but I’ve managed to lose 15 pounds this year and keep it off and once I lose another 10 pounds this coming year I’ll be right at my ideal weight. I am really doing great!” 2
  7. Spend more time with people who make you feel good about yourself and less time with people who make you feel badly. This is easy to say and sometimes harder to do, of course, but how many of us have ‘friends’ that we might be better off seeing a bit less of…?
  8. Spend more time doing things you excel at. If you’re a great cook, take the time to cook for your friends and family. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel a self esteem boost from your obvious proficiency.
  9. Spend some extra time to make yourself look and feel great. Buy yourself a flattering new outfit or get a haircut
  10. Learn a new skill. Forget about what you can’t do or can’t do well and focus on improving what you can do or on learning interesting new skills. Try evening adult education classes as a great place to start.3

Low self esteem works against us like a negative spiral. We lack the confidence to live life to the fullest and so we fail to thrive – which only reinforces perceptions of low self worth, and that cycle repeats itself downward. Fortunately, the opposite is also true, and so simple acts that raise self esteem can result in positive feelings and accomplishments - which further raise self esteem!

None of the ideas listed above are groundbreaking in any way, but if you lack self esteem, making a few small changes to your daily routine can really help to improve the way you feel and the way you look at yourself. Why not give some a try today?

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Page last updated Aug 26, 2011

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