Self-esteem can be defined as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect; self-worth”. Self-esteem can range from low to high or even somewhere in the middle. Self-esteem is an important thing to have and according to Psychology Today it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Our self-esteem begins to develop when we are children and can be influenced by how our family and friends view us and treat us. Low self-esteem can lead to depression and too much self-esteem can lead to narcissism. So where does healthy self-esteem lie? Healthy self-esteem could be defined as being comfortable and confident of who we are while not allowing it to turn to selfishness. Self-esteem can go up and down depending on what’s going on in a person’s life and continues to develop throughout most of the life span. Self-esteem can be affected by any number of things including but not limited to friends, family, grades, talents or lack of talents, job status, financial situation, whether or not a woman is able to have children, our short-comings, life set-backs, career success, whether or not we feel loved, criticism, praise, positive attention, negative attention, being fired, the ability to live up to society’s standards, family expectations, the way we feel about the way we look, level of intelligence, etc…
If you are someone with low self-esteem, the good news is that there are things you can do to work towards improving your self-esteem. Start with daily affirmations. Make it a point to say or write something kind about yourself or to yourself every day. Some examples of daily affirmations include: “I am a loving parent.”, “Progress is progress no matter how small.”, “I can play the piano well.”, “I am good at drawing.”, “I am kind”, or “I looked pretty today.”. Sometimes when our self-esteem is low it is because we feel like we do not have any good qualities, but EVERYBODY has some good qualities. This exercise will increase one’s awareness of the good qualities he or she has and will help create a shift in thinking. Another reason a person may have low self-esteem could be that the person engages in a lot of negative self-talk. It is good to challenge these thoughts and reframe these thoughts. If you when you make a mistake you think to yourself that you can’t do anything right, you are engaging in negative self-talk in that moment. You can challenge those untrue thoughts and correct them to reflect that you made a mistake and that is part of being human. Then focus on how to learn and grow from the mistake. Learning to challenge your thoughts can be a process and is often easier when you use a journal to write them down. Write down both the distorted thought that occurred and then the thinking you used to challenge it. A third thing you can do is write yourself an “I love you because letter”. Write a letter to yourself and in the letter stay positive and talk about your positive traits. While attempting to improve your self-esteem, just remember, that it is a process and does not happen overnight.