Low self-esteem is probably something you have struggled with at some point in your life, and it’s important to have tangible practices to pull you out of those difficult ruts whenever you feel yourself slipping.
Generally speaking, people have an inherent need to be seen, feel valued, and have a true sense of connectedness—with yourself and with others. When you are in the flow and feeling good, it can feel as if you’re soaring through life and living as your best self. It’s what you truly desire, at the deepest level; to have a sense of who you are, where you are going in life, and the self-confidence to move you down the path toward fulfilling your purpose or goals.
Yet, often times you might not be able to connect to who you truly are. You may have no idea what that even means or how to arrive at this place you so often hear of from others. Sometimes you may feel disconnected, confused, and lost on the path. Why are you here? What’s the meaning of it all? Your childhoods, societal conditioning, and life experiences can lead you to believing you aren’t good enough, you’re not worthy of love or success, and you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Your painful upbringing, your failures, and your flaws grow louder and stronger until all you hear in your mind is horrific self-talk reassuring you of your deepest fears and your greatest sorrows. Your heart feels laden with a sense of longing, emptiness, and hopelessness. This can (and does) happen through everyday life experiences—when you’re overlooked, cast aside, or abused in some way. You begin to feel isolated, alone, and without any real worth.
Overcoming the loud voices in your head and the misleading thoughts you perpetuate in your mind starts with a determination to rise up from it all and show up as the amazing person that you’re meant to be in this life. You can approach this, in part, through mindfulness-based lifestyle practices and positive self-talk. It’s also going to require that you take certain action to move yourself into a new direction.
It’s fair to note that, in some cases, where your self-esteem may have taken a long-term beating, it can be beneficial to work with a coach—someone who is specifically trained to work with your energy, mindset, and emotions to help get you back on track to living in your light. And, sometimes all you need is to shift your perception and take action toward moving the energy in a positive direction.
You will go through periods in life where you’re at a low point. The important thing to remember is that’s not who you are. It’s just a narrative—a story you’ve created in your mind. It’s simply how you’re feeling in the moment, and you have the power within you to shift that feeling. While things can look cloudy, feel heavy, and sound uncertain, getting the energy moving in a positive direction is often easier than you might think.
Here are five practices on how to build your self-esteem.
1. Find (and Surround Yourself with) Your People
One way to improve self-esteem is to take a look at the relationships in your life. It’s been said that who you surround yourself with will have a strong impact on who you become, the ways in which you show up in life, and how you feel about yourself as a result. It’s imperative that you find and surround yourself with people who are like-minded or, at the very least, are able to appreciate you for who you are and what you bring to the table. Having people around you who admire and respect you, who support and raise you up, and who will be there to encourage you to become your best self plays a huge part in your sense of belonging and connectedness, not just with yourself but with others and within the world you live.
2. Showcase Your Unique Talents and Special Gifts
You’ve come into this life with your own set of unique talents and special gifts. Often, they are things you were born with, gifts that seem to just come naturally to you. In some cases, your talents may have begun as a hobby or an interest, and you’ve since cultivated them as a specialization. Sometimes, these talents show up a bit later in life, almost as if you were being called to explore something which turns out to be your path.
In any event, spending time doing the things you most enjoy and that you effortlessly excel at can bring you a great deal of joy. Taking that a step further, finding ways to showcase those gifts or talents to the world can be a huge boost for your self-esteem. It can feel as if you’ve found your place and other people then reflect your magnificence back to you through their excitement and joy.
3. Find Yourself Through a Daily Meditation Practice
Meditation drops you into a space of stillness and silence where you are able to diffuse the busyness of life’s daily routines and connect more deeply to who you truly are—not your name or where you go to school or what you do for a living, but who you are at the core of your being.
You may have forgotten who you are because you’re so caught up in the daily grind and monotony of repetition: waking up, burning through the day, and passing out. Meditation affords you a glimpse into deeper aspects of yourself; who you are, what you want, and your dharma (your purpose in life). Overall, meditation gives you inner peace that can improve your mental health.
4. Get Moving!
Exercise isn’t about looking great in your bikini, it’s about improving your body-mind health. Daily movement that includes cardio, strength training, and flexibility combined with balancing postures keeps your body structurally aligned, your muscles and other soft tissues healthy, and your lymph system fully circulating.
If you’ve ever had a solid workout at the gym (or at home); an invigorating yoga class; or a great walk, run, or hike in nature, you’re already familiar with that energized feeling you have afterward. The rush of endorphins inspires creativity, boosts self-confidence, and enhances mental clarity and focus. Exercise gives you the drive to move through the rest of your day with purpose and intent, and this can make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
5. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
You may be wondering how kindness can help improve your self-esteem. Can you think of a time when you did something for another person out of the kindness of your heart with no attachment to the outcome? What was the result of your action and did you feel good about it?
Whenever you are able to positively influence another person or situation in life, it generates feelings of pride, happiness, and a sense of appreciation of yourself for being that person. It can get the energy of kindness swirling into a contagion of positivity that continues to circulate within you and those you come into contact with. It’s the law of cause and effect, which states that every action generates a force of energy that returns to you in like kind. That which you put out is that which you will receive back. So love openly, be kind, do good deeds, and support others and you just might be surprised at how much this boosts your own self-esteem.
When building self-esteem, it’s important to remember that there will be great days and not-so-great days. The laws of nature are always seeking a balance. Allowing yourself to feel into your emotions as you move through life’s experiences is part of being human. The point isn’t to work hard at making everything (including yourself) perfect but, rather, to refine your approach to how you’re able to navigate the ebb and flow of energy—and to be the best version of yourself in any given situation.