10 Steps To Improving Self Esteem – Learning Self Love

Self-esteem simply put is how you feel about yourself. Your feelings of self-worth and personal value. In his Self Esteem Workbook, author Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph. D., describes healthy self-esteem as a realistic, appreciative opinion of one self.

When we are constantly judging our self and looking for outside validation that we are worthy, life can become unbearable. Whether your low self-esteem has been there as long as you can remember or it came from the guilt of problems created through your addictive behavior, now is the time to start to develop a better relationship with yourself. Not working on self esteem issues is a sure path to relapse.

Following are 10 steps towards improving your self-esteem and learning to love and accept yourself.

1. Pay Attention

We can’t change what we aren’t aware of. So start to become self-aware. Where are the biggest hits to your self-esteem? Are you a people pleaser, always going along and not making waves? How are you talking to yourself, are you your own worst critic? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? What are the patterns of behavior that keep you feeling bad about you.

2. Leave Self Criticism Behind

Developing healthy self-esteem requires changing thoughts towards what is right about yourself instead of the constant focus on perceived shortcomings. When you hear the inner voice calling you and idiot, telling you, you’re lazy, fat, stupid, fill in the blank, learn to release it.

Very gently acknowledge the thought and let it know you hear it and it might feel true in this moment but that doesn’t make it true. Thoughts are just thoughts, not facts, and thoughts can be changed. Turn it around, would you tell a friend she was fat in this situation? You probably wouldn’t, you’d support her and say something nice, try being your own friend.

3. Be Your Own Cheerleader

If you are quick to recognize your flaws, start to notice what you are doing well and give it some praise and acknowledgment. Rather than focusing on the one thing your co-worker said that made you feel bad, what were the 10 things you did well at work.

Take some tome to affirm what you do well. I often hear clients say that they should do something well, for instance, “I should be a good Mom”, or “I should get straight A’s”. My question is, by who’s standard? Does that mean you can’t celebrate that you did a great job even if it is expected?

4. Be Yourself

Stop comparing yourself to others. What is it that you really want for you, what do you enjoy doing, who do you want to be? If you aren’t clear on what it is you want, it is easy to feel like you are falling short when you see other people being successful. Spend some time focusing on your own goals and achievements, instead of how much others have accomplished. We all have gifts, strengths, things we do well. Spend some time bringing your gifts and strengths to the surface. You can’t do that while you are constantly comparing yourself to others.

Spend some time writing out your accomplishments over the years, can you ride a bike, do you like to cook, are you creative, athletic, kind, love animals, good at math. enjoy nature. There is a nugget in the things that bring us joy that help us in  identifying our authentic self. When you focus on you, you share something special with the world. There is only one person on the planet that is just like you, allow you to be you.

5. It’s Okay To Be Human

Humans are imperfect flawed creatures. Embrace your humanness. Everyone makes mistakes, it doesn’t make you less worthy, not good enough. It can be an opportunity to learn something and do something different the next time. It can also be something to just let go. Acknowledge the embarrasment, learn to laugh at yourself and let it go.

6. Let Go Of The Past

If you seem to be stuck in the story of how things are, and have been, maybe it is time to create a new vision of how things could be. How would you rather see yourself? What would you like your life to look like? How would you like to be? We all have a past and from working with clients that have had problems with addiction, for many the past has not been kind. If you come from a dysfunctional family where your needs weren’t met now is the time to change that. If you haven’t gotten it by now, you will likely never get what you needed from the people you wanted it from. Is there a way you can give it to yourself or get it from someone else.

You may never get the approval from your Dad that you wanted, but you can learn to love and approve of yourself and believe that Dad did the best he could. Or if Mom was hyper critical and you never felt good enough, now is the time to stop expecting something different from Mom and become the cheerleader you never had as a child.

I understand there is a lot to unpack in this step, letting go of the past is not a one and done task, it takes time and practice to change the story of how things were to how things are, and finally how you want them to be. Because you may have heard the same negative messages about yourself over and over again or been treated as unworthy constantly, you need to reprogram yourself in a sense. this takes time. Using affirmations and visualization can be helpful in this step.

7. Take Care Of Your Body

Exercise, nutrition, sleep, and meditation can all be a part of this step. All of these have been shown to have a positive impact on self-esteem and mental health. Start slow and add things in. You might want to start with adding in exercise several days a week, which has been shown to increase the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain. Making the time to do something good for yourself also is a boost to self-esteem.

Take some time to learn about nutrition and fueling your body. What we put in our body absolutely affects energy level and mood. Getting enough sleep allows you to be more resilient throughout the day and deal with challenges, as does meditation which can help release the stresses from the day. All of these practices fall under the realm of self care. Taking time to do things that nurture you, can definitely affect our sense of self worth in a positive way.

The problem is that with low self-esteem we sometimes have problems setting boundaries to make time for our self. Have a conversation with the people that might be impacted with you taking time for you. Let them know that you are working on being a better version of you and want this for yourself, or you might even ask for their support and have them join you in this journey of self care.

8. Be In Service To Others

This may seem counter intuitive if you already have trouble saying no, or making time for yourself. However there is research that supports that doing volunteer work, being in service to those less fortunate helps improve feelings of self-worth. The other benefit is that it takes you out of your head and the focus on your own problems. Helping at a homeless shelter, or a food pantry can help put a different perspective on your own issues.

If you just can’t see yourself doing volunteer work or the time isn’t right, try doing random acts of kindness throughout the day. Send positive thoughts to people you pass during your day and see if you notice any difference in the way you feel.

9. Focus On What You Can Change

Where do you have some actual control to change things. You can’t change your height but you can change your weight. You can’t change other people, but you can leave a toxic relationship. You can change your thoughts, you created tehm and you can change them.

Set some small achievable goals. The goals don’t even need to be related to self-esteem, setting goals that you will follow through on will help to build a success mind set. By setting small achievable goals you are able to feel a sense of accomplishment and start to believe that maybe you can be successful at other things as well.

It could be as simple as “I will be 5 minutes early to work every day this week”, or “I will watch 20 minutes less television 3 nights this week and read instead.” Look at some of your shoulds, either let them go, stop shoulding yourself completely, shoulds are just thoughts too, probably given to you bey someone else. If however it is a should that really resonates with you, create a small goal around changing it.

As you gain confidence in your ability to follow through on things your self-esteem will also grow.

10. Realize That You Have Innate Value As A Human Being

Dr. Schiraldi states that, “Recognizing inner worth, and loving one’s imperfect self, provide the secure foundation for growth,” “With that security, one is free to grow with enjoyment, not fear of failure — because failure doesn’t change core worth.”

We all come into this world with equal worth as human beings and unlimited potential. If we no longer believe that, it’s because that belief was not nurtured and supported when we were young. Changing that starts with self compassion, patience, affirming one self, and letting go of the harsh inner critic. Negative and limiting beliefs can be changed over time with some work and consistency, along with behavioral change. When we treat our self with love and kindness, we start to believe that we deserve that kind of treatment from others as well.

Final Thoughts

When I was going through one of my IOPs, I received a handout on self-esteem and it had many of the above ideas. I’ll be honest, I still have my own issues with setting boundaries and making my needs a priority. Like everyone else I am a work in progress. I did find this particular session helpful because I believe most of us grew up in a family where we got mixed messages as best about our value, and at worst that we had no value.

Be kind to yourself on this path of growth and change. Take time to look into the mirror into your own eyes and say loving words to yourself. Let go of resentments and forgive those that hurt you, most of them were doing the best they could. Be forgiving of yourself, the self sabotaging behaviors and thoughts served a purpose and were meant to fulfill a need at the time, hopefully you are ready to let them go.

Accept yourself fully for who you are, the good and the bad. If we did not have the darkness we would not appreciate the light.

Peace & Joy on your recovery path.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment