Do you ever feel as though you’re waiting for someone to love and appreciate you? Do you feel “less than” because you are single and other people in your life are in relationships? Do you find that you wait for others to recognize your accomplishments before being proud of them yourself? Do you struggle to take care of your own needs because you feel unworthy?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are not alone. Sometime we judge ourselves too harshly and compare ourselves to others, which only leaves us feeling empty or miserable. At times, we allow our relationship status, a harsh comment, negative feedback, a bad date or a missed opportunity to cloud over the sources of light and joy in our lives. These tendencies get in the way of true happiness and feeling good about what we have and who we are.
One of the ways to overcome this is by developing and maintaining a positive relationship with yourself and increasing your self-esteem. This involves tuning into and taking care of your own needs, accepting your strengths and weaknesses, recognizing your positive qualities and making choices that enhance your personal wellbeing.
Here are ten tips to increase your self-esteem:
1. Use positive self-talk and be your own cheerleader. Change thoughts such as “I’m a loser” or “I always mess things up” to statements that are more positive and encouraging. Tell yourself you can handle it and support yourself in going after your goals.
2. Engage in regular physical activity. Regular exercise fends off depression, low energy and disease while increasing stress management abilities and enhancing your mood.
3. Take care of your needs. Be good to yourself by getting adequate sleep, taking care of your personal hygiene, creating time to be alone, saying no when you need to, eating in nutritious ways, stimulating your mind and connecting with others.
4. Let the little things go. When feeling insecure, it is likely that you will look back on interactions, conversations and experiences and wish you could change something you said or did. You may wonder if you represented yourself well or if you said the wrong thing. These tendencies easily create anxiety and self-judgment. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and let these thoughts pass. It is healthy to reflect for personal growth, but damaging to your health to beat yourself up over every little thing.
5. Own who you are. Give yourself permission to like what you like and not like what you don’t like. It’s completely okay to be an extrovert, introvert or somewhere in between, enjoy chocolate ice cream but despise vanilla or prefer to hang out in smaller groups instead of big crowds. Be uniquely you and be proud!
6. Practice self-acceptance by exploring who you are and recognizing all of your qualities, even if they don’t feel positive in nature. Without judging yourself for your weaknesses, get to know yourself. Let go of any need to be perfect.
7. Be creative to help your brain function more efficiently and effectively. Creativity helps you achieve a greater sense of wellbeing and gain better control of your thoughts. Try doodling, sketching, writing, listening to or playing music. Visiting museums, reading, starting a new hobby, going to concerts or changing a habit are other ways to tap into your creativity.
8. Have a grateful and optimistic attitude about life, which naturally brings hope, happiness and confidence. Practice daily gratitude by writing down three parts of your day you are grateful for, writing down two lessons you learned from the day or three qualities you are proud of in yourself.
9. Have personal integrity and live by your values. You will feel better about your life if you feel good about your choices and actions while listening to your inner voice. This may include setting appropriate boundaries by saying no when you need to, not gossiping, speaking with kindness and using your intuition.
10. Participate in meaningful activities. Make time for your hobbies, get involved in your community, take a class on a topic of interest or join a local group. Following your passion and engaging in healthy interactions with others are important for your self-esteem.
Remember, our attitudes and feelings about ourselves have significant effects on our happiness and quality of life.
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!