How to raise your self-esteem
Self-esteem is the regard and respect you have for yourself. A high self-esteem means that you have a positive view of yourself. According to Dorothy Corkville Briggs, author of “Celebrate Yourself,” your self-image and the real you may not be the same. Whereas the real you is unique and unchanging, most of your self-image, or what you think is true about yourself, is learned and may not be accurate at all.
Where does self-esteem come from?
Self-esteem comes from what other people have said about you, told you and done to you. For example, you may believe that you are not very smart, that you are painfully shy, that you are not attractive or that you are weak. In addition to learning to believe certain things during our early years, there are experiences that make many people feel inferior or lacking in self-esteem. For example, being criticized, not being loved, being rejected or not getting encouragement.
How does low self-esteem feel?
What can be done about low self-esteem?
One of the most successful methods of improving self-esteem is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive-behavioral therapists believe that faulty thoughts cause us to feel badly, which makes us feel negatively about ourselves. CBT helps people feel better about themselves by identifying how faulty ways of thinking contribute to how they feel. CBT is a process in which clients analyze their faulty thoughts and beliefs and learn to substitute them with healthier, positive thoughts and beliefs.
Additional ways to improve your self-esteem include:
- Spending time with people who support you in feeling good about yourself, who treat you with love and respect, who encourage you, who are thrilled when you succeed, who help you bounce back from difficulties without being critical.
- Spending less time with people who are overly critical and/or have negative attitudes.
- Taking steps toward learning more and doing things you enjoy.
- Asking people who treat you well about the positives that they see in you and reminding yourself of these often.
- Treating yourself as well as you would treat your own best friend or loved one.
About the Author
Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Advocate Medical Group – Behavioral Health in Normal, Ill. She has helped her clients through a variety of issues for more than 20 years.