How to Boost Your Self Esteem

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Words by Jen Woodward

Self-esteem is our own personal evaluation of our self and our own worth. It includes values, beliefs about ourselves, assurance and even our emotional states. Feeling confident and being happy in your own skin stems from an authentic connection with your true self.

How you see yourself effects how others see you, it effects relationships in your life, professional achievements and overall life satisfaction.

There is a balance to be had of course, low self-esteem leads to permitting others to treat you badly and even depression. But too much self-love means you may not be able to learn from failure and will present as narcissistic or entitled.

Having an authentic confidence, the type of confidence that attracts the right people into your life, might land you a fulfilling job or attract the things you would like - it’s inviting. Whereas having a low self-view is off putting, it either attracts those on a similar level who aren’t going to make you feel good, or pushes people away.

Your self-esteem is a measure of how worthy you think you are - don’t look outward for affirmation. What do you dream of accomplishing? What do you want out of your life? What do you think you’re worthy of experiencing? Maybe something stops you from expressing your ideas to others. Perhaps you cannot give all you’ve got or ask for all you need in relationships.

Ways to overcome low self-esteem


In order to improve your self-esteem, you need to change how you interact with yourself. Thoughts, comments and ideas confirming something you said, did or value lift your self-esteem. Rather than searching for this validation from others, create it for yourself. Affirmations are a really powerful way of doing this. As you change your thoughts, even if you don’t quite believe them, you brain and body will take on these messages and you will begin to live by them. Some positive affirmations you could use on a daily basis:

  1. I am always growing and developing.

  2. I am congruent in everything I do and say.

  3. I deserve to be happy and successful.

  4. I love what I do.

  5. My body is a sacred place and I’ll treat it the way it deserves to be treated.

  6. I am enough. I am okay.

Choose the affirmation that resonates with you and get into the habit of saying it at the same time every day, maybe when you’re brushing your teeth or walking into work.

Get beautiful visual representations of these affirmations that can be downloaded and used as daily reminders

Be kind, compassionate and help others

Sometimes, when our self-esteem is low we might seek ways to elevate it, even momentarily. We might feel gleeful at the misfortune of others, or put them down, lifting up our own self-view. A much more positive, and long lasting, self-esteem booster is to feel compassion and act with kindness. Putting good energy out there will always be reflected back in positive ways.

Have a think, what was the last kind thing that you did? It might be a nice thing you said, something you made for someone, a bit of help offered or even a smile to a stranger. Give freely, help as much as you can. You will get more from that than you ever thought.

Remove what no longer serves you and learn to take care of you

You may feel like saying no will hurt someone’s feelings but when you say a ‘yes’ you don’t mean, you may only half do the job or feel resentment about saying yes. You don’t need to be rude but be firm and decisive. Keeping up these boundaries and protecting yourself communicates that you are worth being looked after and rather than relying on others, you’re taking responsibility for your own wellbeing.

Be authentic

Stop pretending in order to try and please other people. Always thinking you will be found out is what kills self-esteem. It’s difficult to be yourself initially and you’ll feel vulnerable but once you get past that fear it will feel liberating. Listen to your instinct, and don’t suppress a part of yourself in fear of judgement. It’s ok to be emotional at work, or like something no one else you know likes, or have an opinion that you haven’t heard anyone close to you agree with.

Self-esteem is ever fluctuating. It’s easy and perhaps encouraged to form habits that bring it down. However, with a bit of thought and consciousness, you can implement habits that increase your self-esteem and get what you deserve.

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Jen Woodward is a psychodynamic therapist who works in London. You can find out more about Jen and her work over on her website.

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