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Can self-esteem be changed?

Six simple practices you can do to boost your self-esteem.

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Are you stuck with your current level of self-esteem or can you transform yourself into the person you would love to be?

Your level of self-esteem is a reflection of the confidence you have in your own worth, the confidence you have in your own abilities, and your level of self-respect.

There are many people that have had some tough and very painful experiences in life. For some people adverse early life experiences can damage self-confidence and lower self-esteem at a young age, and people wonder if it can ever be changed.

The good news is, with the investment of time and energy, you can transform your self-esteem so that you too can look in the mirror and smile about being you.

Carl Jung famously said “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become”. This quote is at the heart of personal development and supports my unshakeable belief that you change your thoughts and perceptions about the past and learn how to raise your self-esteem.

Why is self-esteem important?

Everyone goes through challenges in life, and it is not so much what happens as the thoughts we have around what happened to us. As a result, developing your self-esteem allows you to have the courage and strength to stay true to what you believe and how you want to show up in the world. Your self-esteem protects you from criticism, allows you to stay strong in the face of challenge, and trust yourself that even if something isn’t going according to plan, you have the resources to turn it around.

Self-esteem is therefore not developed overnight. It requires you to value yourself and invest in yourself first. When you out yourself first, and you demonstrate you care about yourself enough to make you a priority, self-esteem can begin to flourish.

How to increase self-esteem?

Whether you view yourself as a human being having a spiritual experience, or a spiritual being having a human experience, we want to acknowledge that self-esteem has both mental and physical components.

The most important concept that over-arches all of the principles we will cover below is consistency. In order to build self-esteem, it is the simple, small actions on a daily basis that accumulate over time and lead to big results. Einstein described how compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe; by taking small steps each day, your self-esteem can benefit from the compound effect.

Physical approaches to boosting self-esteem

  1. Self-care. Eating, moving and sleeping. The famous phrase of you are what you eat still holds true to this day. But when it comes to nutrition there are two angles we can consider to help increase self-esteem. Of course eating a healthy, nutritious diet will give your brain and body all the resources you need to feel better and therefore think better. There is, however, an additional point to consider, which is when you do decide to have the occasional treat, is to allow yourself to embrace it be free to enjoy it. The more emotion we bring into the equation, such a feelings of guilt and obligation, the harsher we are with ourselves and the harder it is to feel confident. So do your best to eat a balanced diet, and give yourself permission to enjoy the things that you love to eat in healthy moderation.
  2. Moving. When you live a sedentary life, with minimal exercise and a low level of movement, your body will begin to show signs of stiffness, tightness and putting on weight. When we are not physically comfortable in our own skin, it’s so much easier to beat ourselves up and lower self-esteem. A small, regular period of exercise – doing something you enjoy – boosts your body confidence and floods your nervous system full of feel good, health promoting chemicals. If you struggle, make sure you experiment with lots of different options until you find something you enjoy.
  3. Sleep. Getting adequate rest is not important for the brain, but your entire body. This means things such as late night drinking, watching tv until the early hours, and working excessively in stressful environments make it harder to achieve deep rest. Finding your sweet spot of sleep per night can allow you to build your routine around it, rather than sacrifice short-term rest for long-term self-esteem issues.

Mental approaches to boosting self-esteem

  1. Negative self-talk. We often speak to ourselves more harshly and critically than we would dare speak to anyone else. To begin to change this, pay attention to which context you are most harsh with yourself. It could be work, relationships, family or any other area of life. Once you have identified this area, put all your attention and effort into being kinder to yourself in just this context. It gives you something to focus on your energy towards and also breaks the task down so you can begin to make progress in the most important area first. It may take some time and patience, but keep working on it.
  2. Saying no. Many people go above and beyond to try and please others while compromising their own happiness and wellbeing. This is one of the most important factors in lowering self-esteem. When you fail to say no when you mean it, and you don’t put yourself first, you lower your self-worth. To combat this practice saying no. Practice in easier, less emotionally charged areas and build up your confidence until you can say it with certainty in more and more areas.
  3. Keep a journal. Make short, concise notes on your wins and successes each day. Sometimes they will be big, and on others you may have to go searching a bit more. But keeping a close eye and documenting evidence of your growth and development is a powerful self-esteem developer.

Can self-esteem be improved?

Practising the simple action steps named above on a daily basis and recording them in your journal is a efficient way for you to start taking back control of your confidence and self-esteem. These steps, although challenging at times, will give you the platform to gradually and methodically improve your self-esteem until you can look in the mirror and smile about being you.

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