It's common to feel down about ourselves sometimes, but boosting your self esteem can happen in a few simple steps.

Are you constantly worrying about how you compare to other people? Do you pay too much attention to that nagging, inner voice that tells you you're not clever enough, not thin enough or not successful enough? Learning to develop compassion for yourself is the key to boosting your self esteem and feeling happy within yourself.

Loving yourself isn't about having a giant ego; it's about cultivating a quiet confidence and inner peace. Until you feel comfortable in you own skin you will not be able to feel content. And you can't expect others to like you if you don't love yourself first.

What is self esteem?

Self esteem is how much - or how little you value yourself. It is like a mental image you have of yourself that you project into the world. To have a healthy self esteem, you are aiming to feel a sense of peace and acceptance within yourself. To achieve this, you need to change the way you think about certain aspects of yourself. For example, don't dwell on the things you can't do or haven't got; instead focus on developing the talents and opportunities you can have within you.

Healthy self-esteem

  • You generally feel positive about your life
  • When things go wrong you can deal with problems and move forward
  • You enjoy making plans for the future

Low self-esteem

  • You generally feel negative about life
  • You fixate on mistakes you have made
  • You always feel responsible when things go wrong

Causes of low self-esteem:

Low self esteem is not a natural state. Feelings of low self esteem can be triggered by negative life events:

  • A difficult childhood
  • Bullying
  • Bereavement
  • Illness
  • Unemployment
  • Stress
  • Isolation
  • Trauma

You should seek professional counselling if you feel as if you can't cope. But the good news is that there are small actions you can take right now to help you break free from negative cycles of thinking.

Erase negative beliefs

Facing up to your negative beliefs can make you see that they are not insurmountable and that with just a little effort you can break these thought patterns.

Identify the beliefs that are holding you back. Write down a list of what you perceive as your weaknesses. In the next column write down the reason or cause for this weakness. In a third column write down three things you can do to begin to change this weakness. Make your resolutions very practical. For example, you might write:

Weakness: feeling shy

Reason: afraid of being laughed at; feelings of inferiority

Action: I resolve to have a conversation with somebody who is outside my social group; I will sign up for a class or new hobby; when I feel nervous I will smile and take a deep breath rather than running away from the situation.

Boost your self esteem

Doing something for yourself is the key to building your confidence:

Learn a new skill

What have you always wanted to do but kept putting off? Think about where your talents lie. Try something creative like taking a class in writing, drawing or learning a style of dancing or singing. Keep the costs down by setting up your own group where like-minded people can get-together and exchange skills. Start by setting yourself small goals so you can see that you have achieved something and have a chance to build your confidence.

Surround yourself with supportive people

It's essential to surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart. This means cutting contact (or at least limiting contact) with those who criticise you or tend to put you down. Cultivating a strong support network of friends is essential for raising self esteem

Be assertive

This is about setting boundaries, respecting yourself and, essentially, ensuring others treat you with respect. It isn't about being bossy or aggressive.

  • Make a conscious effort to relax and be open when you are communicating with people.
  • Try to stay calm if somebody upsets you. Take a deep breath and explain, calmly, what the problem is and how it can be remedied.
  • Don't be afraid to say 'no' to requests that are unfair or not for your highest good.

Top Tips to feel boost self esteem

Meditate - this relaxes mind and body and can help you release negative emotions

Take regular exercise to release feel-good endorphins in to your blood stream

Eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water to keep your body healthy

Meet up with friends who make you feel good about yourself for a regular natter

Set yourself small challenges each week, such as starting a new book, going for a long walk or trying a new spiritual therapy.

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