How to Build Self-Esteem
You too can build your sense of worth. It's never too late. It's made easier with our free psychological tools.
So, do you like yourself? Do you feel good about being you? If so, your self-worth is high.
Do you dislike yourself? Do you feel bad about being you? If so, your self-worth is low.
Your self-worth is your fundamental evaluation of yourself. In other words, how you feel about yourself.
How to Build Self-Esteem Overview
However, ignoring temporary ups and downs, how do you feel about yourself overall?
In relation to improving your health, happiness, or fitness, it is important to know, because, if you have low self-worth, without first improving your fundamental evaluation of yourself it will be harder for you to achieve your goals.
How to build 'self-esteem' is usually hyphenated.
We use it both ways on this web page because online searches for this topic are often done without hyphens.
So, now let's learn more about self esteem.
The signs and symptoms
For people with high self-worth, the usual ups and downs of life may lead to temporary changes in how they feel about themselves, but only to a limited degree. In contrast, life’s usual ups and downs can make a vast difference for people with low self-worth.
If you dislike or even hate yourself, you may not care about yourself enough to do anything to feel better about yourself. Unfortunately, low self-worth never improves itself.
You won't wake up some magic morning with high self-worth. The suffering caused by the feeling of low self-worth never just vanishes by itself.
It needs to be worked on, but you an do it.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Fortunately, you can change your thinking and determine your own feelings about yourself. This is why it is possible to build your sense or worth and improve it permanently. If you take the time to learn how to build self-esteem and actually take the relevant steps, you can enjoy good self-worth for the rest of your life.
Usually there's a difference between thinking that something is the case and it being the case; just because we think something doesn't mean that what we think is true. If someone thinks, for example, that he or she is the most terrific person on planet Earth, this does not mean that other people agree!
In the case of self-worth, however, your thinking something actually does make it true for you. The truth about your self-worth exists only in your mind!
High and low self-worth
Some people confuse knowing how to build self-esteem with being egocentric, self-centered, or conceited. On the contrary, people who are egocentric often have low self-worth, which they try to mask by acting in an arrogant way.
With respect to relationships with others, people with low self-worth have no choice but to be selfish. It's as if they feel that they have so little intrinsic value or positive energy that they cannot give of themselves to others.
Therefore, if you want to develop good relationships with others, it's important to develop a good relationship with yourself. Respecting yourself is how to build self-esteem. Without it, it's difficult to have caring encounters with others.
Furthermore, nobody knows you better than you do. Other people take their cues about how to think about you from you! As you begin to improve how you think and feel about yourself, you'll notice that other people will naturally begin to think more of you as well.
It's not only possible to know how to build self-esteem and increase how much you like or love yourself, it's also indirectly possible to increase how much others like or love you.
The causes of low self-esteem
As infants we learn to sort objects into "self" and "other." Understanding requires sorting objects into groups such as “food” or “not food,” "hot" or "not hot," "hard" or "not hard," "Mom" or "not Mom," and so on. You were not born with your self-concept; you learned it.
You also learned how to evaluate yourself. You were not born with feelings of poor self-worth; you learned them. You learned them by adopting the evaluations that some other people had about you. These other people may have been members of your immediate family, caregivers, playmates, teachers, coaches, or religious authorities.
The fact that you have low self-worth demonstrates that you learned from at least some of them to adopt a low opinion of yourself.
They may have belittled you, embarrassed you, humiliated you, yelled at you or even beaten or abused you.
When you did poorly at some task, you may have picked up the message that there was something wrong with your whole self instead of just that particular performance.
That was their fault, not yours.
Instead, they should have frequently given you lots of loving attention and hugs. They should have praised you.
They should have listened to you and spoken to you respectfully. They should have provided you with unconditional positive regard.
Once you acquired low self-worth, that fact itself had serious consequences. It increased your chances for depression. It made you more likely to feel lonely and isolated. It increased your levels of stress and anxiety.
It made performances in school and, later, during you working life more difficult. It made creating good friendships and having good experiences more difficult. In short, you learned how to have low self-worth and certain negative consequences followed from that.
That was not your fault.
How to change your life for the better
Let's assume that you happen to have a poor opinion of yourself and want to know how to build self-esteem.
What should you do?
It's important to accept that your low self-worth is not unrelated to everything else. In other words, your poor evaluation has a cause; it is not an uncaused event. Over a period of time, you learned how to have a poor opinion of yourself.
So improving it requires unlearning it and learning to think more highly of yourself. You are the only obstacle to doing this; you have the ability to increase your feelings of self-worth whenever you decide to do so. This page will help you to begin.
On a daily basis, ignore your inner critical voice. Practice self-nurturing. Start to treat and heal you with kind, uncritical, encouraging words. Remember, we are all equal. You have as much right to live your life as anyone else!
If you want to read more about how to build self-esteem and Self-Talk or our other free psychological tools, see the psychology section of our website, which is listed on the menu/navigation buttons, to the left of this page. Self-Talk works by replacing some thoughts with better thoughts.
First, stop being critical of yourself. Stop thinking and saying negative things about yourself. Just ignore your inner critic and carry on ignoring it.
Second, frequently think or say to yourself positive things about yourself whether you believe them or not. In other words, fake it until you make it. If you begin acting the part, you will become the part!
When you begin treating yourself with respect and kind, positive thoughts and words, as if you deserved to be treated that way, gradually you will come to believe it.
"Act the part and you will become the part" holds true for many things in life.
Many others have pointed this out, including philosophers like Aristotle and writers like Shakespeare.
If you act a part long enough you'll eventually not be acting any more.
[This works because your self is not a real separate entity beyond your control. Meditation demonstrates this; see the references near the bottom of this page. Meditation is more effective than self-talk; it works because its goal is to enable you to free yourself from all compulsive thoughts.]
How not to dwell on your past
It's impossible to change your past, but it is possible to decide not to dwell on it and not to let it keep affecting you so severely. If you want better self-worth from now on, it is possible. What it requires is an effort to change the way you think about yourself.
Old habits die hard. It is not always easy to let go of the past. We adults all understand that. Raising self-worth from low to high is not done overnight. However, raising self-worth is easily done over time with persistent effort and the results are invaluable.
The key to raising self-worth is to pay attention to how you think about yourself and how you treat yourself. Once you begin noticing what you are doing to yourself, try to improve it.
Banish negative memories from your mind, and, each time they return, immediately banish them again and immediately replace them with better ones. Now is the time to take charge for yourself. That is how to build self-esteem.
Free yourself from being enslaved by some others' ancient judgments. After all, nobody has power over you unless you give it to them.
Instead of always beating yourself up, nurturing yourself is how to build self-esteem.
People with good self-worth are realistic about weaknesses as well as strengths. They accordingly set realistic goals and work toward them, even if it’s only one small step at a time.
When should you pay any attention to someone else's opinion about you? Only when that person (1) knows you well and (2) is a good judge of character, which is demonstrated by being a good and compassionate person.
If you think about it, aren't there very few people you know who meet both conditions?
If so, there are very few opinions about you that are balanced, compassionate, and worth your noticing.
People with low self-worth have a difficult time evaluating strengths as well as weaknesses. They tend to see only their weaknesses. Accordingly, they are reluctant to set goals and feel that they have failed before they begin. They take other people’s opinions of them far too seriously.
They also tend to feel not good enough in areas that they consider important, have an interest in, or enjoy, even if they have a particular talent. People with low self-worth tend to be pessimistic. All this follows from the habit of listening to the inner critic. However, habits can be changed! It is possible to unlearn what we have learned.
Now you know how to build self-esteem, and it can be made easier with our recommended books.
Highly recommended books to help you further
If you gained useful information from this page and wish to have further control over how you feel about yourself, or how you look, the following books are highly recommended.
Web pages to in this section
In the psychology for weight loss section of our website we have the following pages:
You will find the direct links to those pages on our site map/index.
A few final words
Of all the pages on our website, we particularly enjoyed writing this page. If it helps only one person, it will have been more than worthwhile. All our very best wishes to you for the future.
A final thought about how to build self-esteem
"I don't like myself."
What true sense does it make? After all, it seems to mean that you are two selves instead of one! There's the self who is making the judgment (the "I") and there's the self ("myself") who is being judged. Are you split from yourself?
If so, since suffering is caused by separation, you are suffering. Now you can ease your suffering; the effort of improving your self-worth is infinitely better than the distress of suffering from low self-worth.
If you continue to think negative things about yourself, and judge yourself, it may diminish your ability to cope with life and the difficulties that we all have from time to time. You may turn to something that does temporarily enable you to cope. You may become dependent on distractions such as sex, food, drugs, alcohol, or whatever.
Dependency or addiction can further damage self-worth and reinforce negative beliefs. Dependency or addiction can also lead to social isolation, making it even more difficult to build self-worth.
[To ease your suffering, and for peace of mind and ongoing support, you may want to print out this page and read it over and over again whenever you need to.]
If you are now looking for more about how to build self-esteem, you can search our website or the World Wide Web.