Our self-esteem is tied to our peace and overall happiness, and if we do not monitor our esteem levels, before we know it, they are so low that it feels impossible to recover.
Many self-help books, magazines, and even websites just like this, are filled with strategies and advice to improve and maintain high self-esteem. It’s a popular topic because we have all either struggled with self-esteem ourselves, or witnessed someone else live their life feeling less-than, and they are unable to see the value of their life.
We need to take a look at some of the aspects within our life that are connected to our self-esteem and then continue to work toward developing consistent awareness and improvements in these areas. While there is no magic formula for achieving supreme self-esteem levels, we can do our best to stay vigilant about at least maintaining positive self-esteem levels.
So what do we do? How can we improve our self-esteem or even help others?
- Stop seeking people-approval. Living our lives expecting the approval of others, and being disappointed when we do not receive it, is not going to build our self-esteem. Yes, it is difficult to completely remove our connection to others and ignore the opinions that other people have, but we have to start. No matter what we do, we will never gain approval from everyone, and at times, we will certainly receive unwanted criticism. Unless we live in a bubble, this is part of life. So, accept this and do not let it negatively impact your self-esteem when people are not approving your lifestyle choices. As long as you are living the best life you can, and not intentionally harming yourself or others, keep it moving and continue smiling despite what anyone has to say.
- Assess your priorities. Our self-esteem is also tied to our choice of activities. If we are out of balance, we will feel the impact in our self-esteem levels. It is important to take some time every few months or so to review your daily schedule. Review the things you choose to do, and the things you choose not to do. Are they aligned with your life goals? Are you accomplishing current and preparing for future goals? Do you procrastinate more often than not? Do you need to completely revise your priorities because they are out of balance? Most of all, if you are not feeling good about the direction of your life, and seeing some positive results, then it is time to make changes. These changes will have a positive impact on your self-esteem and overall well-being.
- Establish a plan for self-development. Learning is a lifelong process, and making improvements on ourselves should also be a lifelong activity. Are there ways that you can practice more self-development? Education, health and exercise, spiritual development, financial, emotional, mental, and physical (appearance) are all ways that you can commit to self-development. You very well may not need improvements in every area, but certainly every area requires maintenance. A simple hair cut or color can make a huge difference, or a quick weekend trip alone just to get away from it all can release build up stress and give us the opportunity for some quiet reflection time.
- Make positivity your presence. Intentionally become known for your positive energy and contributions. When you go places and interact with others, inject positive thoughts and emotions by responding in ways that others may not. Focus on finding the positive in every negative. Although there will certainly be some situations where an immediate response of positivity will not be appropriate (such as funerals, or unfortunate life circumstances), if you become known for your positive approach to difficult situations, people will be more likely to build lasting relationships with you, and you will feel good about yourself!
- Never complain. Complaining is not the same thing as venting. We have to stop taking all of our problems and magnifying them based on negative thinking and speaking. When we complain, we remain in the same circumstances. Complaining does not produce action or results, and instead enables us to continue in the same behavior and thinking patterns. Even when we need to seek the help of others, we have a better opportunity to receive support if we are doing our best to first help ourselves, and second, we are not complaining. Besides all of this, complaining makes us feel bad about ourselves and our situation. This is not at all helpful for positive self-esteem. Stay away from complaining or people who constantly complain. We all have problems, so we have to rise above the instant reaction of repeating our misfortunes over and over and over….
- Spend more time with those you love, and who love and care for you. Our environment is very important. If we hang around negative people, or hostile environments, our thoughts and emotions will be negatively affected. Being around the people we love, and who love us, can contribute to positive self-esteem. We can feel the love from them, and we share our love in return. And who doesn’t want to feel loved? This is not about being in a romantic relationship either, this is about being around friends and family who build you up, and do not tear you down. We all need at least one (hopefully you can identify more) person in our lives who loves us, and we love them. We can get through a lot of life’s challenges by leaning in on our support system, which includes the people who have our best interests at heart.
There is no guidebook or set of rules for instant positive self-esteem. Self-esteem itself can feel like a roller coaster ride, with no predictability or stability. While life does throw some unknowns our way, causing us to rethink and re-route our original plans, and then we may question our confidence and wonder if we are capable of accomplishing anything. It is ok to have days, or even seasons of our lives like this. The most important piece to understand is that we have to work on ways to accept that we do not have to adjust our self-esteem levels according to our circumstances, in fact, we should fight with everything we have to avoid allowing our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and self-esteem to shift every time something changes in our lives.
Even though we may feel like life is beating us up, we can persevere beyond our challenges and setbacks.