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How to raise your self-esteem

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?

People with low self-esteem commonly feel sadness or depression, inferiority, anger, jealousy, and/or loneliness.

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

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  1. Eleanore Hartman January 16, 2017 at 12:48 pm · Reply

    Please, I don’t agree that low self esteem is caused by what other people have done to you, told you, or said about you.

    YOU cause your own low self-esteem by allowing outside negative information to negatively impact your self-esteem. We all make mistakes, get grouchy, dress sloppy, etc. sometimes. It’s o.k., that doesn’t mean we are all that negative stuff.

    • Eleanore you are wrong, if someone as a child is told over & over they are stupid, that will eventually lower self esteem. When your a child you are still growing physically and emotionally.

  2. Very good introductory article to the problems from this issue and ideas to work through this challenge.

    Years of negativity can definitely give rise to esteem issues. Fortunately, there are methods available to work towards a positive self image.

  3. Greg Koelling June 5, 2017 at 1:57 pm · Reply

    From the time I was old enough to walk and talk my father let me know I was stupid and couldn’t possibly make anything of myself. I’m now 61 and have nothing. Maybe he was right.

  4. I do agree that what others have said and done to you have a big part in your self esteem. It’s a tough road to bounce back from low self esteem.

  5. The negative pattern can be passed from one generation to the next until someone decides to break it. I grew up where perfection was the expectation, not really to be praised and daily pointed out in great detail the ‘imperfections’ that needed to be fixed, Does this lead to a better person as the critic expects? Actually it leads to someone who feels they can’t do anything right. All correction and no praise leads to one who may hate themself for being human. First step out of the abyss is to get out of this situation. Then years of support and effort to rebuild the self into a normal person. For those who have not been there, this can’t be true. For those who have, the challenge is moving on and climbing out of the hole and discovering there can be life.

About the Author

Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn
Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn

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.